Sewing in Lieu of Air Conditioning

We pulled into Marsh Harbour last week for the Lay Day Regatta Party that was to be held Tuesday night.  As we headed for a spot close to the Union Jack Dinghy Dock, we noticed a Canadian Flag on a sailboat – CANADIANS!!

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Not only was the boat Canadian, but they were from Toronto too!  Tim peered at the boat name and realized we knew them.  We’d spent a week being dock neighbours back in Toronto at Marina Quay West when we’d arrived for our first winter living full time on the boat.  Suncast was stuck in Toronto at the time waiting for the Erie Canal to re-open after repairs so they could head south for the winter.  Now, here we both were anchored in Marsh Harbour in July some two and a half years later.  This kind of stuff amazes me.

Tim stopped by their boat to say hi as he was taking the dog ashore and they invited us for drinks the following night.  We had a great time picking their brains on all sorts of things.  They have been travelling south on their sailboat for 17 years and always taking the boat back to Canada in the summers.  This was the first year they decided to not make the long journey back and stay south for the summer season.  We both were commenting on how hot it has been and how even the locals seem to be saying it’s hot.  We think it’s hotter than normal for July.  The bad news is July isn’t the hot month!  August and September are worse!

We both had been considering air conditioning for our boats but the cost to purchase a unit and the means to keep it running were challenges neither of us could manage.  I noticed that Suncast had a wind scoop on their forward hatch and I asked if it made much of a difference, YES, I was told.  “It’s a must have.”  They also had shade curtains around the cockpit which made for a pleasant evening as the sun was getting lower and beaming directly into the cockpit.  The curtains diffuse the sun, blocking 70-90% of the light while allowing you to still see through them.

We returned to our boat and within a couple of days had I had made shade curtains for the cockpit and sewn a wind scoop too.  All in lieu of air conditioning.


When I returned to the Bahamas at the beginning of June I had brought shade fabric with me.  We’d been planning to add these side curtains for sometime and I jumped on a sale back home to get some material at a decent price.  To manage our sun exposure we’ve been “pining” the fabric around the cockpit using the kind of clips you keep open bags of potato chips sealed with.  In any kind of a breeze these clips would come shooting off with an alarming projection.  While I had also purchased UV thread back in Canada, I did not buy any other supplies for the project, we hadn’t made a firm plan on how the drapes would be attached or held out to the lifelines so I didn’t know what I needed.  Now we were desperate to get this project sorted and as always necessity helped move the planning along.

Ideally I wanted the drapes to be hung with zippers and I thought we could use the same attachment points that our plastic side curtains are hung from the bimini with.  Great idea, but when we went to town to the sewing and fabric store, they didn’t have any zippers that large.  We talked about adding snaps or grommets to the bimini and then tying the drapes on, but it seemed like not a perfect or elegant solution.  It would be time consuming every time you went to put them up or take them down.  Finally we decided to remove the zippers from the plastic side panels and reuse them on our shade panels.  It will be months before we need those plastic ones again and by then we’ll be back in the States and can buy new zippers.


The fabric is really easy to use, you don’t need to hem it as it doesn’t fray and a lot of people go this route as it’s very easy.  I wanted a more finished look and so I hemmed all sides and attached the zippers at the top.  I pinned the zippers on and then zipped them up to make sure the zippers were correctly placed.  Volia!  Shade!


As it turns out I didn’t buy enough fabric and we’ll need to purchase some more in the states.  We want to add a triangular piece to either side of each panel and some strapping to the bottom with clips that will wrap around the lifelines to hold the drapes out at an angle.  We’ll also be making a third panel that will hang across the back of the cockpit.  When you sail in an area with easterly trade winds, the sun is always setting off the stern!

The wind scoop was actually a more pressing matter.  We have shade tents for over the hatches, and they do a great job keeping the sun out.  unfortunately they also keep the breeze out too.  I’d read a few blogs about making the “perfect” wind scoop and had planned on making one based on the trial and errors of others.  I looked at nylon fabric back home, but decided it was too expensive and did not buy.  So here we were in the Abacos needing some inexpensive fabric to sew a wind scoop.  We decided if we could find a fabric shower liner, it would be perfect!  Tim went off to the hardware store and came back with a white shower curtain for $25.  Back in the States, we could have got this kind of thing for $10, but we thought $25 was a deal for the location we were in.


We decided against trying to sew the luxury 4 way wind scoop for now.  (If the wind shifts or your at the dock and the wind is not directly on the bow, you don’t have to readjust the scoop to match the wind direction.). Eventually we’ll probably make one of these, but first we’ll see how long the shower curtain fabric lasts in the sun before investing more time and money in a more complicated design.

We looked at a couple of simple designs on line and blended two together for ours.


Our first attempt had the scoop coming down into the salon and tied off in a few spots to keep it in place.  After living with this for a week, we decided to alter it and have it wrap around the hatch with a bungie cord to hold it in place.  This decision was based on seeing various scoops on other boats that had this kind of set-up.  We’ll see how it holds up, but for now, there is a breeze in the salon which is greatly appreciated by all the crew.