It’s hard to believe that just a week and half ago I was still running the space heater in the evenings just to take the chill out of the boat cabin. Now, the highs for the days are in the low 80’s and it’s time to start thinking about getting the boat ready for summer.
I’ve already had to turn on the ac a couple of times right around sunset to take out some of the humidity in the cabin. Yeah, I know, I like it warm. But these little boat cabins turn into ovens in the sun. The humidity builds and then you get mold and mildew on the inside. I’ve been wiping down the walls and ceiling as best as I can but it don’t take long for those little black spots to return.
In a couple more weeks I will most likely have to turn the ac on and leave it on all the time. If it were just me, I would only run it when I am on the boat. But I have two companions who wear fur coats all year round and it would not be good to leave in them in that kind of heat. I hate to have the ac on all the time. It’s one of those cheap little window units and makes a lot of noise, plus the vibration runs through the boat when it runs. Right now, I can leave the forward and rear hatches open, let the air blow through to cool things down, and be nice and comfy. It’s also much quieter. But that will end soon enough and once the ac goes on it won’t shut off until October. At least I hope it will last that long. Nice thing is, if it dies on me, I can replace it for about a $100 and keep on going. My electric bill will jump of course, probably upwards of $50 in the peak heat of July and August, but there are a few other things I can do to help.
Vessels the size of the Fritter don’t come with ac so you have to improvise like I am doing. As long as you have shore power, you have ac. The location of the ac unit can make a difference too.
It’s very common to put an ac unit on the roof of the cabin. You buy or fashion a cover that goes over the forward hatch, slide the ac unit in, vainly attempt to seal it off from the rain, and enjoy the cold air cascading down on you. In my case, this is not what I want. The little unit I have will freeze the inside like an icebox. I run it at as low a setting as it has. Having that cold air blow down, right into the v-berth where I sleep would not be a good thing. The previous owner tried it and said it was too cold for him too. So, he did something different. The second most likely spot for the ac unit is in the rear hatch where you get in and out. Mount the unit in there and just have the top two boards to remove to gain access. But the unit makes it a pain in the ass to get in and out of the cabin. You have to step over the damn thing every time. It works, but it ain’t the best solution. So what the previous owner did was rather interesting. There was just enough room under the rear hatch to cut out the bulkhead and make a big hole to slide the ac unit into. It sits tucked away under the hatchway and you can still reach in and turn it on and off. Outside it sits up on some boards so it’s not directly on the deck. Only one minor problem. The hole leaks like a sieve when it rains. I’ve tried everything to seal it up, more gasket material, 5200 marine sealant, and it still leaks. The owner said if I were to go sailing and waves came in over the rear cockpit, the water would run into the cabin which would not be a good thing. At least he saved the piece that he cut out so if I was of a mind too, I could pull the unit out, put the cut out back in, seal it properly and be all set. That is probably what I will eventually wind up doing. But the hole where he cut out gives me another slight advantage. To the side of the cut out is where the electric control panel sits. So if and when I ever get into the electrics project, I can access the rear area to run new wiring down into the nether regions of the boat. For now, the ac unit will stay.
One thing I will need to do very soon, and may well happen by the time you read this post is to put up a tarp over the cabin area. A simple 10 x 10 tarp, draped over the main sail boom and tied down at the safety wires does a fine job of blocking out most of the sun from hitting the cabin directly. This cuts back on the heat and the ac doesn’t need to run near as much. I may take it a step further and add a second tarp forward of the mast to cover the v-berth area too. Tarps are cheap, and though they don’t hold up well in high winds, will suffice for now. Canvas tarps would be ideal but are way too expensive. A bimini top, which is like a canvas convertible top over the rear cockpit would be a nice option but the way the rigging is set up in the rear, there is no room for one. I may find a cover of some sort to put over the exposed part of the ac unit just to keep it from running too hot. None of this will cost a lot of money and will go a long way towards making the summer here more bearable.
I am glad the warm weather is here though. I would much rather try to deal with the heat than the cold any day. Just a few tweaks here and there and the Fritter and her crew will be ready for summer.