14 June 2010

Enemy #1

They call Florida "The Sunshine State", but for a small boat sailor in Florida in June, a better motto might be "The Too-Much Sunshine State".

When I set sail from Steinhatchee in April, I was wearing my Irish wool sweater on deck to keep warm, and zipping myself into a sleeping bag at night. The sun was a pleasant companion who's warming rays were always appreciated.

Two months later, I'm doing everything possible to fend the sun's rays off.



I rarely lust after big, white, shiny boats, but I must admit that recently I've been coveting those giant, hard dodgers. When I see Captains waving from the blessedly shady recesses of those covered cockpits, I feel like I'm seeing a glimpse of Heaven.

And those power boats with the enclosed -- and no doubt air conditioned -- pilot houses... Well, I try not to think about those.


For example, I took the above photo from the Blue Moon after we had been tossed into the air by this guy's wake (luckily, I had my camera at the ready... you don't get this kind of photo opportunity every day, thank goodness.)

I was cursing the heck at him, of course, but even while cussing a blue streak, I couldn't help envying that air conditioned lounge.

My attempts at blocking the sun are more modest and low-tech, but no less earnest. Shade is not a luxury out here, it's a necessity.


The biggest source of shade on the Blue Moon is the main sail, of course. Sometimes, it even shades the cockpit, but since I'm finally heading north, its shade is usually cast on the cabin top. Beautiful, deep shade, but it's a bit difficult to steer the boat from the cabin top, right?

Not when your life depends on it!

First attempt at steering from the cabin top
photo jalmberg

It was a simple matter to lash a block to the tiller and then run a line from the side of the boat, through the block, and up to the cabin top. Lashing the block to the tiller gave me a potential 2X purchase, but the angle was wrong, so I improved the design by running the line through a turning block on the side of the boat, and running the line up the deck.

As a further improvement, I added a bungie cord on the other side of the tiller, which helped pull the tiller to starboard when I released pressure on the tiller line. I forgot to take a picture, of course, but I'll try to remember to take one the next time I use this rig.

My other weapon against the sun is a small tarp that I can often tie in the rigging even while sailing, to cast a small patch of shade in the cockpit.

3' x 4' Homemade Multi Purpose Tarp
photo jalmberg

I got the idea for this tarp from one of the Pardy books, and highly recommend it. It's small enough that you can rig it in many different orientations and places, depending on the location of the sun. It's not so big that it's difficult to put up or move, so I tend to move it frequently.

Helena made this tarp on my Mom's sewing machine, and when I was home last time, I whipped up a bigger, 4' x 8' tarp for use at anchor. Being able to sew up simple things like this on the spur of the moment, is a very useful skill, as I've mentioned before. It's quite easy and fast once you get the hang of the sewing machine.

I also use the tarp as a wind scoop every night. Luckily, there is often a nice breeze at night, but without a scoop, not much of it enters the cabin. But the scoop rigged in the companion way sends a river of cooling air rushing through the cabin.

Besides making sleeping easier, it makes cooking possible. Before I started rigging this scoop every night, lighting the stove would boost the cabin temperature to what seemed like an unbearable 400 degrees F. With the scoop, the stove's heat is flushed right out of the cabin, making cooking possible again.

Multi-purpose tarp rigged as wind scoop
photo jalmberg

It's a life saver.

Well, that's a short look at some small, simple, easily rigged weapons that I'm using against Enemy #1 -- the Sun. If you have a favorite shade or breeze generating trick, please share it with me! I'm going to need every trick in this war.

Next Episode: Natural Florida


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1 comment:

  1. That guy's cousin nearly ran me down in the ICW north of Jupiter Inlet. He was driving a cigarette boat at 50 knots as he passed us in the narrow channel. My wife was below, boiling water for something. Could have been bad...

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