Wilbur has to burrow under his pillows if his clueless parents don't cover him up when he's obviously quite chilly
When we arrived back at our marina after our Shake Up Cruise we knew we'd better get a start on readying the Knotty Cat for another brutal Florida summer. This will be our third full summer here and we're finally getting a grip on ways to survive the tropical heat. And I just want you to know, I'm not the one who came up with the term 'tropical' for Florida. I read somewhere that the 'South' ends somewhere in Georgia; after that it's tropical all the way.
Now that we have many systems in place to combat the heat I cringe when I remember how unequipped we were our first year here.
We now have:
A phifertex sunscreen around our dead lights (or wind shield if you think of us as a car) which faces east. It's snapped in place and doesn't have to be removed when we sail.
A phifertex sunscreen dead astern (at our rear end and it can be unzipped and put away when we set sail) which faces west and keeps us from baking during the afternoon.
We can now sit in the cockpit (back porch) in the afternoon without getting fried.
A close up picture of Phifertex. Look at all the colors!!
(this picture is from Sailmaker's Supply)
Home Depot patio curtains (they are very porous and allow the wind to blow through without trouble) tented over our boom and the bow. While they look pretty feeble, they keep out a lot of UV rays and also deflect some of the heavier rains we get during the summer.
What a mishmash of crap. But it works!
Air conditioners. I could write a thesis on this particular subject. Well, maybe not, but almost.
We don't have built in air conditioners and most likely never will so while we sit here in our slip we use A/C window units. Back in August of 2011 we set sail from Indiantown (in central Florida) where the Knotty Cat had sat on the hard since May of the same year. We were going to transit the Okeechobee and there was no way we could do this without A/C. This was because we were going to have to dock every night. I can't even remember if there are any anchorages in this waterway but it was August and unless you've experienced it you wouldn't believe the size and volume of mosquitos there. They arrive like angry B-52 bombers as soon as the sun sets.
So we went and bought a horribly expensive (and we found out horribly inefficient) West Marine air conditioner. Each evening after docking we had to heave that sucker atop the Knotty Cat since it wasn't stable enough to stay in place while we moved during the day. We then had to sleep in the salon since it only (slightly) cooled this area. After we arrived at our Marina here on the gulf coast we were able to leave the air conditioner in place. However, we were still sweating 24/7. We finally draped tarps over the windshield (anchoring them with our fenders) and since we lacked hatch covers I would lay our cockpit cushions over them during the day to keep out the sun.
First summer. Tarp covered windows and up on top and to the right; the West Marine air conditioner. Pretty!
Luckily we paid for the extended warranty because our deluxe air conditioner broke down within about 3 months. Its replacement and its replacement's replacement also broke down within 3 months. We finally got smart, sold the last unit on Craigslist before it could break down, and the following summer bought 2 window units for about a 10th of the cost. BTW, we made sure the new owner knew about the extended warranty should anything go wrong with it. We've never heard anything from him so maybe he finally got a good unit.
Summer number two is when we bought two 5,000 BTU units and with one over the salon and one over our berth we were a lot more comfortable and I was quite happy that I no longer had to re-convert the salon from a berth back to a settee every day. Also that second summer we had the sunscreen for the windshield made and I sewed some hatch covers. We tried several methods at the stern where the western sun drilled its rays through our cockpit door. This included some straw-like roll up curtains we salvaged from the dumpster but they just didn't do the job. We ended up having that sunscreen made too and it made a huge difference. Some marina friends had draped their boat in Home Depot patio curtains so of course we hustled off to buy some for ourselves.
From the stern looking toward the bow: on the left you can see our phifertex windshield cover; it wraps all the way around to the other side. Straight ahead is the box that covers our berth air conditioner. Over head are our Home Depot curtains.
Every additional layer of systems helped but guess what? During the hottest part of the day our poor Knotty Cat was still uncomfortable. Trying to do anything; sewing, cleaning... would bring on a sweat storm.
So now, in this our third summer, we replaced the 5,000 BTU unit over the salon with an 8,000 unit and kept a 5,000 BTU for our berth.
Wilbur is the true barometer of whether the Knotty Cat is now set for summer. When he does 'the tuck', which involves lying on his pillows with his paws all drawn up under his body and gives us his poor-me-winky-blinky-eye look, we know to grab his blanket and cover him up. Only then does he relax, stretch out, heave a huge sigh, and go to sleep.
The fact that has happened now that summer is here...
Dare I say, "By jove I think we've got it!" ? Because I think we do.
Is that a blanket on Wilbur? Is this June in Florida?
I don't even want to think about having to take all this stuff down when we get our first hurricane threat.