Keeping Cool on your Boat


Every time you step foot on your boat, you should be concerned about the damaging potential of the sun. Even on overcast and cloudy days, you are still at risk of sunburn, dehydration or just an uncomfortable trip. With some preparation, you can make the time spent on board your boat day or night both safer and more enjoyable.  

Below Deck

Below deck is more difficult to cool than above deck as the air is trapped and can quickly heat up making it unbearable to spend time there.    

Air Circulation

One of the best ways to keep a cabin cool is air circulation. A simple 12-volt oscillating fan can make a huge difference to the temperature of the cabin on a hot day. Multiple fans over seating and sleeping areas will provide maximum relief. Air conditioning is the ultimate way to keep cool however once you leave the marina’s power supply behind you will need a generator to run it. Space and cost are the two main considerations for installing a generator.  

Cooling breezes may help you above deck, but if you can’t get the breeze through the hatches to cool below deck, you won’t want to spend time there. A wind scoop is an aerodynamically designed sail that pushes any wind into stuffy cabins, improving air circulation.  


If you are spending a hot night at sea, make sure you anchor with your bow into the wind to maximise airflow through open hatches. If you aren’t always sure which direction the wind is blowing, you may need a wind indicator which can be 100% accurate in as little as two knots of wind. Some wind indicators come with reflective tape for night viewing.   


You will need to keep your cabin as cool as possible to provide relief from the heat so try to avoid cooking below deck on hot days. Use a BBQ above deck or eat cold foods that don’t require cooking or heating.  


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If your cabin still uses halogen bulbs, upgrade to LED or fluorescent lights which give off far less heat. They also have the added benefit of being more energy efficient so you won’t need to run your engine for as long which also cuts down on excess operating heat.

Above deck


The most obvious way of protecting a boat’s occupants is with shade. A canopy or bimini protects you from sun, wind, cold and rain. Made from heavy duty polyester fabric, a bimini offers good sun protection with little effort to put it up and down. If you are planning on spending a few hours or more on your anchored boat, you may want to string up side awnings to provide more shade.

Now that the shade is sorted, don’t forget the other parts of the slip, slop, slap message. A good fitting hat that stays on while the boat is moving is ideal so you don’t need to turn around and retrieve it from the water. Wear polarised sunglasses to cut the glare from the water and protect your eyes from premature ageing. Take sunscreen with you on the boat and reapply every two hours. A long shirt will protect your arms while you are reeling in the big fish. Make sure you retire your thin fishing shirt that offers little protection and invest in clothing with an SPF/UV rating.


Take plenty of water and remember to keep up your fluid intake even if you don’t feel thirsty. Chilled water is more enticing and cooling. If you don’t have any refrigeration or ice on board, keep drinks covered with a wet cloth in a bucket half-filled with water.  

Remember if you are still hot, you can always take a dip in the cool ocean water.

Category: Safety

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