Stay Cool While Boating in the Hot Summer Sun

By Jessica King

Aug 04, 2022

Heading into late summer is a perfect time to get some boating trips in before the kids return to school and the weather turns cooler in the fall. This summer, hot temperatures have made getting on the water even more enticing. A dip in the cool water and the breeze felt on a speeding boat are great ways to beat the heat.

But it’s important to be careful as too much sun can be dangerous. Signs of heat exhaustion include fatigue, developing a headache, becoming dizzy, and being extremely thirsty. Extreme cases involve a rapid pulse, clammy skin, excessively sweating and vomiting.  

If left untreated, too much sun can lead to heat stroke, in which a person is confused, breathing rapidly, dizzy, and may have a headache. This can lead to unresponsiveness or convulsions. If someone on board has heat stroke, place the person in cold water and call for help immediately.  

Too much sun can also lead to skin conditions and even contribute to skin cancer.  

It’s crucial to keep cool and limit your sun exposure. Here are several ways to stay cool while boating:

Drink water

If you are in the water or getting splashed by water, you might forget that your body still needs water to function. Carry a cooler with bottled water and perhaps a beverage with electrolytes if you are very active. Keep a beverage handy and remember that you are already dehydrated when you feel thirsty. Toss some ice packs in the cooler to keep the drinks cold and cool yourself off.

Stay Nourished

Fresh fruits, vegetables, and other light snacks can replenish vitamins and minerals lost by sweating in the hot sun. Energy bars and mineral waters also help. 

Choose foods that are full of water and require less heat to prepare. Avoid using the stove or oven in the cabin as they add heat. A solar cooker will harness the power of that hot sun. A BBQ grill on deck allows the heat to bleed into the atmosphere.

Spend Time in the Shade

You might consider installing a canopy, boat tent, or even a tarp over your boat’s cockpit or passenger areas for sun protection. Many of these items can only be left up when the boat is anchored. Boat tents also offer side protection and have been known to cool down the temperature of the top and inside of the boat by an average of 10 degrees.

Cheaper alternatives include an umbrella or a wide-brimmed hat. Taking breaks out of the sun will keep you cool. If you have a cabin with air conditioning or windows that offer a cool breeze, that’s a great place to take a break.

Protect Your Skin From the Sun

Even under a canopy, the sun’s rays reflect off the water. That’s why it’s important to wear water-resistant sunscreen. An SPF of 30 is recommended. Apply sunscreen at the beginning of the day, after getting out of the water, and every two hours while in the sun.

In addition, wearing long sleeves or light-coloured pants adds sun protection. Remember, you can get a worse sunburn on cloudy days, so don’t skip applying sunscreen on those days. Sunglasses help with the glare.

Splash Water on the Deck

The surface of your boat retains a lot of heat. Splashing water on the deck with a hose or bucket will cool the surface, preventing burns on your skin from contact. It can also lower the temperature on your boat above and below deck. An optional misting system is easy to install and can be used to cool the boat surfaces periodically. You can also use a spray bottle to mist yourself.

Cool the Cabin

If your boat has a below-deck cabin, that area can get stuffy and warm. Several options for cooling the cabin include installing small fans, an air conditioner, or a wind funnel – a device attached to the boat’s hatch that directs the cool breeze into the cabin.  

Rain visors keep the water out during storms while letting fresh air in. This allows you to keep windows open while preventing stuffiness or mildew.

LED light bulbs generate less heat than incandescent or compact fluorescent bulbs. A cooling mattress will make sleeping in the cabin on hot nights more comfortable.  

If you have any of these items installed, you can escape the midday heat by anchoring and taking shelter in the cabin.  

If the cabin is still too warm and stuffy when the sun goes down, consider sleeping in a hammock under the stars or use guided meditation to achieve mind over matter.

More Quick Ways to Cool Off

Aside from taking a dip in the water, getting a bandana or towel wet and placing it around your neck will cool you off.  

Remember those ice packs in your cooler – place them near your feet when you sleep for a cool night’s rest. You can also make homemade ice packs by putting wet paper towels in a resealable bag, filling a sock with rice, or filling up a hot water bottle. Freeze any of these, and you are ready for cold therapy.

Storing your sunscreen in the cooler will soothe your skin when you apply it.

Finally, get the breeze going around your boat by venturing further from shore and cruising right along.  

Hot Fun in the Sun

Getting out on the water is a perfect way to stay cool if you follow some simple guidelines. Take a moment to check how you are feeling. Look out for kids and loved ones who might be having so much fun that they forget to take time to get out of the hot sun, drink some water, and slather on more sunscreen.  

Often, the effects of the sun might be noticed or felt too late. At that point, make sure you’ve packed some aloe for relief (stored in the cooler, of course).  

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