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Keeping cool below decks with free air conditioning

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What is the issue?
The heat in the tropics can be unbearable at times when at anchor or alongside. This is especially the case in equatorial regions with high humidity. Moving a breath of cooling air becomes imperative but fans and any air conditioning typically consume enormous amounts of power.

Why address this?
A place of refuge from the heat can make life bearable in oppressive environments during the hottest part of the day.

How to address this?
Fit a wind scoop to harness any breeze that passes over the deck and directs it down to ventilate the interior cabins. Wind scoops draw no energy and provide such a wonderful cooling breeze on hot, stagnate days, that they can be considered an indispensable addition to the cruising arsenal.

Bespoke wind scoop
Photo: middlebaysailing

A wind scoop is an aerodynamically designed sail especially designed for this purpose. They are available off the shelf from many manufacturers but they are such a basic system they are easily self-manufactured in a wide varity of shapes External link to make the most of a vessel's available hatches.

The conventional wind scoop is fitted over the front hatch of a yacht and flown from a halyard wrapped around a roller furling or attached in some fashion to the sheets. An anchored vessel laying to the wind points the scoop forward to capture and direct the breeze below decks. As the wind shifts, the vessel shifts correcting itself so the wind catchment maintains its alinement.

A wind scoop turned sideways to catch a breeze when alongside
Photo: Courtesy of Windscoop

The problem with the conventional wind scoop is that it only works properly with an anchored vessel that maintains its ailment to the breeze. This does not happen when a vessel is alongside a pier or in a marina and in these circumstances, the wind scoop has to be continuously adjusted to follow the direction of the breeze. This limitation led to the development of the 4-chamber or omnidirectional wind scoop. This design, though less efficient, can catch wind from any direction without any requirement to repositioning it. This is because the scoop itself changes shape based upon the direction of the wind, creating a more efficient system for boats that are alongside.

Omnidirectional Wind Scoop
Photo: Courtesy of PLASTIMO

Another variant of the wind scoop is a free-standing version designed to cater for vessels that do not have a halyard or supporting fixing point to enable a conventional wind scoop to be flown over a specific hatch. Smaller pop out wind scoops are also available for portals.

A free-standing wind sccop
Photo: Courtesy of Breeze Booster

We had our very large wind scoop made up specially, and from our usage I would always suggest the bigger the better. It was rigged over the forehatch with four attachment points and flew from a halyard looped around the roller furling. Our first setup used small measured off carabiners to allow us to quickly connect it up around the hatch and widen it out to the guard rails. But we found the carabiners to be a mistake as they rattled on each connection point when the wind scoop fluttered. We quickly turned to connecting by clove hitches and never had another issue despite using it day in day out as we anchored almost all of the time. We did take ours down at night as we slept directly beneath the forehatch and we found the breeze it directed down was too strong and cool to sleep under, and the fluttering immediately above us was too disturbing at night.

A wind scoop is a simple, yet energy and cost-efficient cooling and ventilating system in hot climes. Below deck fans move the air, but a wind scoop will direct fresh and cooler external airs down into the interior. In most cases, you can eliminate the need for air-conditioning when a wind scoop(s) is used in conjunction with a proper awning. They should be considered an essential item before heading off to hot climes as they are worth their weight in gold when it gets hot.

With thanks to:
Michael Harpur, Yacht Obsession.

A good sized custom wind scoop

Illustration of the 4-chamber or omnidirectional wind scoop

A small free-standing individual hatch wind scoop

Alternative omnidirectional wind scoop

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