This July has been hot here in the Northeast U.S.A., and even when on the boat and on the water it can get uncomfortable, and even dangerous, if you are not careful. What can be done to beat the heat when onboard?
One of the obvious things to do is to take frequent breaks and go for a swim in the water, which will usually be cooler than the air, but this is not always practical when underway. Pouring fresh water over your head can really help, and I find that soaking a canvas hat (of the Tilley type) in cool water, preferably fresh, and then wearing it until dry can help act like a miniature air conditioner for your head. You can do the same thing to your shirt–the material will absorb water and as it evaporates it helps to cool you down.
When offshore in a hot climate, like the Caribbean, we have found that often the coolest place on the boat is down below on the cabin sole. If you have a deep-bilged boat the cabin sole may very well be below the waterline, down where you get some coolness from the water and the air in the bilge. Plus hatches tend to be on the centerline over the sole so you get whatever air is moving, and we have found that often there is more movement at cabin sole level. If you have a wooden or fiberglass floor you can lie directly on it to help suck that heat out of your body. Try sleeping down there, where the motion is great, the air is moving, and the floorboards help to cool you down.
Another cooling trick is to have spray bottles with freshwater in them so you can squirt some mist into your face from time to time. We have also found that having some sports drinks, like Gatorade, can make a big difference when you are feeling the “bonk” coming on. Yes, they do have a lot of sugar and calories, but we have found they are critical at times when you have been working hard in the hot sun. We don’t drink them regularly, but we keep an emergency supply down in a bilge locker where they stay fairly cool.
Feel free to comment with your hot weather tips.