The Heat is On

Heat inside the boat with sun blaring in, 126.2ºF.

It’s 7:30 a.m. and the thermostat reads 32ºC inside the boat (that’s 90 ºF). Given the 75% humidity, that makes the apparent temperature 106ºF!

Hatches above us are open, but there’s not a wisp of breeze blowing in.  Sweat trickles down my back, soaking the elastic waistband of my pajama shorts.  The air inside is heavy.  It feels like I’m sitting in a steamy sauna at the local gym, only... I’m not.  I’m sitting at our salon table, stubbornly sipping my morning coffee, determined not to let this heat rob me of my morning indulgence.

We haven’t had any rain since the lockdowns started - nearly two months ago now.  The sun rises blazing, and continues to turn up the temperature throughout the day.  Moods turn irritable on board.  The heat is oppressive, and we are all struggling to carry on with our regular routines.

How Do We Beat the Heat When Living Aboard?

Staying cool during school.  (No, we do not promote wine drinking in class, but the glass bottles
get cold faster in the fridge so we reuse them for water!)
Increase the Airflow.  Running the generator to power the air conditioners all day isn’t really an option, as we’re in ration mode with diesel fuel until travel restrictions ease.  Desperate for some air flow, I rally the kids.  We go through the boat, collecting any free-standing fans that we can find, and place them wherever there’s an outlet around our salon table.  The best fans we’ve discovered are the portable, powerful 12-volt Caframo fans.  They can be moved around the boat and even suction to the hatches to bring in fresh air.  Any bit of breeze makes a big difference.  If there is a breeze outside, opening up the hatches throughout the boat can lower the temperature exponentially.

Quick dip to cool down in the midday heat.
Get wet.  Really, we should just jump in the water to cool off, but right now in the Philippines, the water temperature is in the bathtub range - 30-31ºC (88ºF), so it offers no refreshing reprieve.  Sometimes, though, a quick dip is all it takes to take the edge off.  Other options I’ve found to cool me off are simply wetting my hair, sleeping under a damp sarong with a fan blowing across me, or freezing a wet bandana and placing it on the back of my neck.  I don’t sit in sweaty or wet clothes for too long, though, or I may develop swimmer’s rash or other skin irritations.  Itchy skin and hot weather are NOT a fun combination!  (Believe me, I learned this the hard way.) A quick application of baby powder can help remove sand and completely dry your skin.

On a friend’s boat, they post this chart next to the head as a reference.  Great idea!
Hydrate.  Pure water from the watermaker doesn’t replace the minerals we lose through our pores, so we add a pinch of salt and a half teaspoon sugar to our glasses of cool water.   The salt replaces the minerals and the sugar helps with absorbtion.  Gatorade used to be our rehydration drink of choice, but we haven’t been able to find any sold in stores here in SE Asia.  There is an electrolyte powder called Picari Sweat sold here, but right now we’re all out, and I realize I prefer making our own.  That way, I can control my sugar intake.

In order to make sure we are properly hydrated, we also monitor our pee.  Yep, always check the bowl.  Too dark or cloudy?  Time to drink a liter or two!

Michael cooling off while he scrubs the rudder.
Don’t add more heat.  This seems obvious, I know, but even daily chores can raise the temperature of me or my surroundings.  Cooking, cleaning, exercise, and boat maintenance all leave me drenched and spent.  Expectations about when and how things are done must be adjusted to the temperature.  For example, I save workouts for after the sun goes down or before dawn.  I look for meals that don’t require me turning on the stove or oven during the day.  Instead, I try to use the microwave or grill outside like baked potatoes or kebabs.  Boat chores like polishing stainless steel or fixing a pump in a small, tight space are either broken up into smaller bits to prevent overheating or saved for a cooler time of day.  Scrubbing the waterline, however, is one chore that doubles as a way to cool off in the heat of the afternoon!  

Our Sunbrella sunshade

Seek cover.  Whether that means putting the dark shades on our salon windows, closing the shades on the portholes and hatches, or even securing our massive Sunbrella deck shade we had designed by “Johnny” back in Grenada, we avoid the sun’s blazing rays however we can.  It automatically lowers the temperature on board and raises the mood of the crew.

Sweating through my morning coffee

Say goodbye to spice and caffeine.  This is a tough one for me, but ever since pre-menopause set in, hot flashes have exacerbated my tropical heat battles.  Now I’m heating up from the inside and out!  However, I do notice that when I refrain from that precious morning cup of coffee, my body temperature stays more constant.  So even though coffee grows well in the tropics, drinking a hot cup of joe out here can bring on an instant full-body sweat-fest.  And instead of turning up the heat by adding tasty chili peppers to my meals, I stay cooler if I do without.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.  

Heat can zap my energy, dull my motivation, and challenge my mood.  The more I can do to fight the heat, the happier our crew and I will be!  I think it might be time for me to switch to iced decaf coffee in the mornings!  Anyone have a good recipe?


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