Boating in warm weather under the sun can be relaxing and rejuvenating — but it can also be sweltering hot. Whether you are fishing off the coast of Florida or cruising around the Caribbean, you are bound to start sweating in the summer heat. As the temperatures keep climbing, boating can become almost unbearable on the hottest days of the year.
Luckily, there are many practical ways to stay cool while boating so you don’t have to miss out on any summer boating adventures. We’ll teach you how to keep your boat cabin cool and other tricks to beat the heat while boating this season.
The Importance of Staying Cool While Boating
When you are boating on the open water in summer, you can be exposed to extreme heat and intense sunlight. Too much exposure to UV rays and hot temperatures can cause fatigue, impaired focus and dehydration, and can eventually lead to more serious consequences like heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat-related illnesses can worsen quickly and may have fatal consequences. In 2017, excessive heat was the third most deadly weather event in the U.S. and caused 87 fatalities.
The early signs of heat exhaustion are fatigue, headache, dizziness and severe thirst. You may not be able to operate your boat safely and will likely feel nauseous. As heat exhaustion worsens, it can cause vomiting, rapid pulse, clammy skin and excessive sweating. If heat exhaustion is not controlled, it can lead to heat stroke.
When a person experiences heat stroke, their body will likely have stopped producing sweat, and their skin will become flushed and hot to the touch. The person will experience confusion, rapid breathing, dizziness and headaches. They may act irrationally, and, as heat stroke progresses, they may become unresponsive or have convulsions. If a person experiences heat stroke on your boat, contact emergency services immediately, and immerse the person in cold water. Heat stroke can be deadly if not treated quickly.
Prolonged sun exposure while boating can also pose long-term risks. Too much exposure to UV rays can cause your skin to age prematurely and can increase your risk of developing skin cancer. Skin cancer is currently the most common cancer in the U.S., and an estimated 20% of Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime. Although most cases of skin cancer are curable if detected early, melanoma, which is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, causes nearly 20 deaths each day in the U.S.
While boating on a bright day, your risk of harm from sun exposure is multiplied by the sun’s rays bouncing back off the water. To stay safe on the water this summer, you must practice proper hot weather boat safety. Use the boating safety tips in the next section to protect your skin and stay cool while enjoying the water this season.
21 Tips to Beat the Heat on Your Boat
Whether you are lounging on the deck or sleeping down below, there are many simple ways to beat the heat on your boat. Use these tips for how to keep cool while boating to stay safe and comfortable on your next summer boating trip.
1. SPLASH WATER ON THE DECK
When water evaporates, it produces a cooling effect. Use this to your advantage to stay cool while boating by splashing water onto your woodgrain vinyl cockpit decking with a hose or bucket. The temperature on board your boat will drop noticeably, as will the temperatures below deck.
2. INSTALL A MISTING SYSTEM
Another great trick for keeping cool aboard your boat is to install a misting system. Misting systems can be attached under a shade structure on your boat — such as an arch, Bimini, canvas soft top or hardtop — and work in a similar way as splashing the deck to lower the temperature on board your boat. Misting systems release a fine spray of water into the air to provide evaporative cooling.
Misting systems are easy to install and can be attached to the shower hose or tap on your boat or connected to a pump.
3. INSTALL A SHADE STRUCTURE
If your boat does not already have shade coverage, you can install a shade structure for extra sun protection. Boat tents are available for additional shade during anchorage or side panels can be used to extend the coverage of a Bimini. You can also use sheets or tarps clipped to a Bimini or arch for extra protection on sunny days.
When out on the water, try to stay under shade coverage as much as possible, especially when UV rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
4. USE A WIND FUNNEL
Keeping the boat cabin cool can be challenging on sunny summer days. With all the humidity and heat, the compartments down below can become muggy and miserable. To keep your boat cabin cool, use a wind funnel to help increase airflow below deck. A wind funnel, also called a windsock or wind director, can be attached to your boat’s hatch to direct the cool breeze down the open hatch. Wind funnels work especially well while anchored and are perfect for cooling down the cabin while you sleep.
5. INSTALL RAIN VISORS
When a summer thunderstorm rolls in, you may be forced to close your cabin windows, causing your boat to become stuffy and uncomfortable. If you want to keep the cool air flowing during the rain, install rain visors on your cabin windows.
6. USE SMALL FANS
Placing small fans around your cabin can keep the fresh air flowing and help you sleep better when you’re anchored in the heat. After your wind funnel pushes the breeze into your cabin, strategically placed fans can keep that cool air circulating. Small fans also use very little electricity, so they will not exhaust your boat battery if used overnight.
7. USE AN AIR CONDITIONER
If you are lucky enough to have a boat with a built-in air conditioner, you can use it to sleep soundly in a cold cabin all night. Portable air conditioners can sometimes be installed if you do not already have an air conditioner. Using an air conditioner will also reduce humidity inside the cabin and help prevent mold growth.
However, boat air conditioners consume a lot of energy and often require a generator to run while anchored. Some air conditioners may also be fairly large and not practical for smaller boats.
8. TRY A COOLING MATTRESS OR SLEEP OUTSIDE
Special cooling mattresses, mattress pads and mattress toppers are designed to keep you cool while sleeping. These plush mattresses trap extra heat and are perfect for a hot night down below.
On scorching nights, you may choose to sleep outside in your cockpit. You can also string up a hammock on board your boat to enjoy the summer breeze. When sleeping on board your boat, pick a safe location where you do not risk going overboard. Check the weather before dozing off, so you are not surprised by a midnight storm. If you are boating in an area with a lot of bugs, it is also wise to hang mosquito nets so you do not wake up with itchy bug bites.
9. CHANGE YOUR LIGHT BULBS
LED light bulbs are significantly cooler than traditional incandescent light bulbs and compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs. While LED bulbs produce almost no heat at all, incandescent bulbs release about 90% of their energy as heat and CFLs release about 80% of their energy as heat. Swapping the light bulbs on your boat for LEDs can help lower the temperature in your cabin on a hot summer night. Using LED light bulbs on your boat also has the bonus of reducing your energy consumption.
10. STAY HYDRATED
When you are out in the heat, your body needs a lot of water to stay cool. Drinking water throughout the day helps replenish the fluid your body loses from sweating and also lowers your core body temperature. In extreme heat, staying hydrated is essential to prevent heat exhaustion or heat stroke. If your body does not receive enough fluids, you will not be able to sweat, which can cause your body to overheat.
Stay hydrated while boating by drinking lots of fresh water. Avoid drinking other liquids like beer, wine, coffee, tea and soda, which can actually make you become dehydrated more quickly.
Before you head out for a boating trip, pack plenty of water for everyone on board — including any four-legged friends. Your pets also need a lot of water to stay hydrated and safe on hot and sunny days.
11. EAT LIGHT FOODS
In addition to losing fluids, your body also loses essential electrolytes like sodium, potassium and calcium when you sweat. Pack healthy snacks to fuel your body with the nutrients and electrolytes it needs. Sports drinks and electrolyte water can also help replenish your body during a long day on the water.
When choosing meals to bring on your boat, look for cool and light foods that are easy for your body to digest. When your body has to work harder to process your food, your body temperature rises. Skip heavy meals with a lot of carbs and proteins and pack fresh fruits and vegetables instead.
12. BRING A COOLER
If your boat does not have a refrigerator, you’ll want to bring a cooler to keep your food and drinks cold all day. A small cooler can typically fit enough drinks for everyone on board without getting in the way. If the water temperature is cold enough, you can also chill your beverages by hanging them overboard in a net for a while before you drink them.
13. WEAR SUNSCREEN
Wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 to protect your skin from harmful UV rays while boating. Apply sunscreen before your boating trip and reapply every two hours while you are out in the sun. If you take a dip in the water, are sweating or towel off, that’s also a good time to reapply your sunscreen. To protect your lips from sunburn, you can purchase lip balm with SPF as well.
Although wearing sunscreen outside is fairly common sense, it can be easy to forget to apply it during the excitement of heading out onto the water. It’s a great idea to keep sunscreen on your boat at all times so you always have it handy in case you forget to bring some along.
14. WEAR PROTECTIVE CLOTHING
Wearing the right clothing can help protect your skin from the sun and keep you feeling cool on a sunny day. Choose clothing made of lightweight and breathable fabrics that will wick away moisture and sweat. Loose-fitting clothes with long sleeves and pants shield your skin from the sun while letting in the cool ocean breeze. Light colored clothing also helps you stay cool while boating by deflecting the sun’s rays.
To keep your feet cool, choose sandals or open-toed shoes instead of sneakers.
15. WEAR A HAT
A wide-brimmed hat will protect your nose, face, ears, neck and shoulders from getting sunburned. The shade will also cool you down and shield your eyes from the sun’s glare. Choose a hat made of a tightly woven fabric for the most sun protection. If your hat is made of fabric, you can also dampen it with cold water before putting it on to enjoy even more relief from the heat.
16. WEAR SUNGLASSES
Your eyes need protection from the sun, too. While boating, wear sunglasses that are designed to block both UVA and UVB rays. Wearing sunglasses can reduce your risk of developing cataracts, an eye disease that causes cloudy vision and can eventually lead to blindness. Sunglasses also protect your eyes from the glare off of the water, which helps you pilot the boat more safely.
17. USE A WET BANDANA OR COOLING TOWEL
Wrap a wet bandana around your neck to help cool down your entire body. As the water evaporates, it will provide a cooling effect. Once the towel has warmed up, simply wet it again with cold water.
If you want to stay dry, you can also purchase a special cooling towel that is designed to feel dry to the touch even after they are dipped in water. These highly evaporative towels can be used the same way as a wet bandana, but work with warm or cool water.
18. TRY ICE PACKS
For extra hot days, you can use ice packs to stay cool. Store a few ice packs in your boat’s freezer or bring some along in your cooler. If you do not have any ice packs, you can freeze wet paper towels inside a plastic baggie or freeze rice inside of a sock. When sleeping in a toasty cabin, place ice packs near your feet to stay cool.
19. CHILL YOUR LOTION
If there is any extra space in your refrigerator or cooler, store your body lotion and sunscreen in there. Keeping your sunscreen in the refrigerator provides a soothing cooling effect when you reapply. Although the chill is temporary, applying cold lotion just before bed can provide welcome relief for sun-baked skin and help you fall asleep more comfortably.
20. TAKE A DIP
On a sweltering day, there is nothing better than taking a dip. If you plan to spend your whole day on the water, pencil in a few breaks to anchor your boat for a quick swim. The cool water will lower your body temperature and leave you feeling refreshed. Just remember to reapply your sunscreen when you’re back on board!
21. KEEP CRUISING
The weather always feels the hottest when you are sitting still with the sun glaring down on your boat. While anchored, you will not have as much fresh air moving through the cockpit or cabin, especially on those rare calm days on the water. Keep cruising to beat the heat on your boat and enjoy a cooling breeze. When you venture out far enough from shore, you’ll also enjoy a drop in air temperature and colder water to cool the cabin.
Stay Cool on Your Formula Boat
There’s no better way to beat the heat this summer than to hit the water in your Formula Boat. With the wind in your hair as you zip across the water, you’ll feel cool and look even cooler. Many of our premier powerboats are available with cockpit air conditioners, or you can simply lounge in the comfortable shaded seating area. When it’s time to take a dip, the built-in swim platform makes it easy to dive right in.
For over four decades, Formula Boats has represented the best in luxury powerboats. Combining high-quality materials with striking designs and our family’s own love of boating, we strive to build sports boats and cruisers that your family will enjoy for years to come. We even offer the unique opportunity to design your own Formula boat with all the features that matter most to you — whether that is a cool air-conditioned cockpit or an onboard freezer with plenty of room to store your latest catch.
Experience the unparalleled fun and functionality of a Formula powerboat for yourself, or contact Formula Boats to learn more about our features and models.