Dry Feet at Night

It is always satisfying when you find a new use for kit or gadgets that have languished on a shelf for some time. In Temptress’ case a Windscoop purchased in Shepherds Chandlery, Gib back in 2001 and that still looking brand new, has been rolled up on a cabin shelf for several years seeing only occasional use on summer cruises.  Cooling breezes weren’t something we needed to capture often in the UK whilst here in the Caribbean the constant trade winds make a wind scoop equally obsolete.

However now the rainy season is upon us we do have the small problem of keeping dry with the forward heads hatch open channelling the breeze down below as it also channels in every shower or downpour. Rain is especially annoying at night; one of us would have to get out of bed to shut the bow facing hatch to ensure the skippers feet didn’t get wet as the accompanying wind blows the rain  through the open door into our cabin. And later, after the rain stops, we’d awake in stifling heat, bathed in sweat. Not pleasant nor conducive to a good nights unbroken sleep with the frequent heavy downpours we’ve experienced most nights this week.

Saloon lee cloth – big enough for Kevin but not for a hatch

The answer it seemed looking round at boats anchored here Prickly Bay is to have some sort of cover suspended like an umbrella from the guard-wires high enough to permit air to flow in but low and large enough to stop the rain blowing underneath as far as the open hatch. Initially I, as the resident seamstress on board, investigated purchasing canvas but was unable to buy sufficient locally for this and a couple of other planned projects. We were faced with shipping a supply in from overseas, the cost of which is beyond our pocket (if someone knows of a cheap source of 10-20m of material suitable for a dinghy cover and some dodgers in Grenada or Trinidad I’d welcome suggestions).

Being at anchor means the bow always points into any breeze. Here rain is usually accompanied by squally winds which blow the wetness quite a distance. We tried the new lee cloth I made in January for ur Atlantic crossing to see if that would work but the 1.5 x 2m rectangle of canvas was pathetically small when placed over the relevant part of the foredeck. The aim is to have the cover stretch far enough forward to prevent the rain being blown underneath as far back as the open hatch.

Trying the Windscoop for size

Light bulb moment when pondering what other large piece of cloth I might use! What about the Windscoop – essentially a long thin triangle with narrow “wings” designed to attach to a length of dowel (placed inside the hatch so the scoop can follow the wind). Alternatively the scoop base may be fitted round a hatch so has some eyelets for tying it down. There are loops on Temptress’ deck just aft of the hatch placed there by a previous owner possibly for just this purpose. Usually the apex of the triangle is attached to a halyard and the scoop is held upright facing the breeze. However as a rain shelter the top end needs to be much lower just inches above the deck. With assistance from the skipper and some oddments from Temptress’ useful string box holding bits in places I realised that the single eyelet at the apex wasn’t sufficient. Two new eyelets using brass grommets fixed either side of the batten that keeps the top part open were required. 

One of the new grommets in place

There was a slight delay as the cheap plastic hole cutters the grommet inserting kits in my sail repair box contained had such burred edges they were pathetic not even marking the fabric.  A quick trip to Budget Marine provided a Handi Grommet kit, with a sharp new cutter and much better grommet fixing tools in steel. Ten minutes of hammering later and we were ready to give the new “hatch umbrella” a try. Once in place there seemed a good if slightly reduced airflow through the boat and we didn’t have long to wait for a heavy downpour to test the umbrella part. Last night we finally had a good night’s cool sleep interrupted only by the sound of heavy rain on the cabin top at intervals.

Making some final adjustments

It may glow a bit orange down below but at least it is now dry