Seasonal maintenance: Optimising ventilation

by • April 25, 2017 • older, Yacht MaintenanceComments Off233

Most of Oyster Yachts’ designs have large opening ports in the front of the deck saloon.

In warm climates efficient ventilation makes the interior of any boat much more comfortable, yet many yachts are notably deficient in this respect. It’s therefore worth spending a little time to improve your own boat in this respect. While it may already have a plethora of opening hatches, but few offer any effective ventilation that can be used during inclement weather, or when there’s a significant amount of spray across the deck. Even if your boat is equipped with air conditioning a good ventilation system will minimise the amount of time you have to use it, which in turn reduces generator running hours, or on a smaller boat frees you up from being dependent on shore power.

Oyster Yachts is one boatbuilder that addresses this issue well. Almost every model boat has large opening ports in the forward facing deck saloon windows, which promotes a cooling flow of air through the accommodation when at anchor and therefore lying head to wind. This is particularly important in deck saloon yachts, where the greater window area can create a greenhouse effect. However, it’s expensive to do this well and make it look neat, so it’s all too frequently omitted from boats that are built to a lower budget.

Another important omission on many yachts is the lack of a vent or opening port above the cooker. This can make a huge difference to comfort levels on board and, fortunately, is often reasonably easy to rectify with an existing vessel.

A basic model of Windscoop that’s ideal for use in the Mediterranean.

Simple wind scoops will funnel even the lightest of breezes down hatches in the forward part of the boat, which can make a huge difference. A basic model (see photograph) is ideal for use in the Mediterranean, but more sophisticated types that allow the forehatch to be easily closed from within during rain showers are better for the Caribbean and other tropical locations. Opening hatches, with insect screens if necessary, towards the aft end of the boat to allow air to escape here will help to create a through draft.

At sea the challenge becomes much greater. Granted it maybe fine when you’re running downwind in light or moderate breezes when there’s no chance of water over the deck, but few of us are lucky enough to be able to guarantee that’s the only type of sailing we do and there are plenty of conditions in which hatches must be secured closed. This is where Dorade vents, which were first fitted to the Sparkman and Stephens yawl of that name can be a great help. These are designed with baffles to prevent any water that finds its way in through the cowl drains away before reaching the interior of the boat.

As well as improving life on board while on passage – an unnecessarily hot and steamy cabin is hardly conducive to having fun – good ventilation also helps to keep the entire boat, including woodwork, soft furnishings and any personal possessions in good shape.

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