Not a sailing how-too manual.  I wrote one of those when encourage Sailors to take smaller boats around the DELMARVA. Just a few thoughts that might help.


We're not trying to scare you off, but there is reality. We've found them quite simple to endure by observing a few simple rules:
  • Bug screens. Every opening. Also have rolled towels to fit any gaps around sliding openings; often they can navigate the maze of water baffles.
  • DEET. We've tried the non-DEET product and been unimpressed. DEET mixed with light mineral oil is very effective.
  • No matter how shallow your draft, anchor at least 200 feet off the shore. Most bugs don't fly over water.
  • Don't grill with a marsh or beach down wind. The bugs will follow the scent trail. Try a cold dinner, or cook inside with the bug screens deployed, just in case.
Strangely enough, mosquitoes never bother us in the salt marsh. They need fresh water and the multitude of tiny fish feed on them as well.

After buttoning-up the cabin for the night, there are always a few pesky insects flying around; it was their very presence drove you to pull out the window screens and seal the doors. Perhaps a few dozen hoodlums remain; more than enough to annoy you for the rest of the evening. Chasing them down with a flyswatter will generate more dents, scratches, and blood spatter than the effect justifies.

The following is the definitive way to clear the cabin of a sailboat of flying pests - mosquitoes, flies, and moths. It works so well, no other alternative or caveat is needed. It's that good. This shouldn't work. It's too simple and bugs can't be that dumb. They are.

1. Fill a plastic cup to within 1 1/2 inches of the rim. Add a few drops of dishwashing liquid and shake to get some foam.
2. Slowly bring the cup up underneath the fly or mosquito. If he doesn't promptly drop-off and drown in the foam, move the cup slowly to one side and delicately brush the insect from the ceiling. It will fall into the cup.
3. The foam does a perfect job of catching every insect that drops into the cup

I have caught so many mosquitoes in this manner that within 15 minutes the water became thick with them. There is no mess to clean up; simply dump the water down the drain and get on with reading your book or toddle off to bed. It works because cabin lights draw most of the bugs to the ceiling and because the bugs need to drop short distance before they can manage flight. Also very useful for amusing guests and keep in the kids out of mischief.

This is not an original idea nor is the illustration original. The idea, of course, is not original and has been passed down many times. I borrowed the illustration from "The Sailors Sketchbook" by Bruce Bingham. It is one of the best collections of DIY boat improvement ideas I have found, and I recommend it to everyone, whether their boat be large or small.


I have a Cruise-N-Carry AC unit. We have a love-hate relationship. It's heavy, blocks some of the view, and is in the way when stowed below. It snags genoa sheets. I can only use it when plugged in at the dock because of the power demand--I could run a 2000 watt genset, but that's just too much total noise and too much complication.

Lucky folks are enjoying trade wind AC about now. I don't want to hear about it. We've invited you to explore out-of-the way corners of the Chesapeake at mid-summer, many of which are quirte steamy.

A few years ago I was in Annapolis with my parents for an over-night.We'd finished the tourist thing, were fixing dinner, and were listening to thunderstorms grumble in the distance. We were going to watch an old movie around the salon table after dinner. However, even with the slider open, when we close the rest of the hatches it gets darn steamy fast, and the heat of cooking doesn't help. We needed to do something.

When we bough the boat it came with a 20-inch fan, hidden away in the huge under-bunk lockers. I figured it was for drying things out or something, but was clearly too big for convenient use. But desperate times call for desperate measures; I decided to set it somewhere, just to get some air moving. It fit nicely on the chart table, swiveled to point up and over into the salon, and even on low it served as a silent ceiling fan. You can still slide by into the head.

 Lakewood Cool Operator

Since then we've found many uses:

  • Ceiling fan. Sit it on the cart table and aim it up. Even on low it moves a lot of area around the cabin, 10 times what the 6-inch fans can manage on low. It is also whisper quiet in that location, perfect for watching a movie.
  • Sleeping cabin fan. Place it in the door and try medium if it's really hot, low if not. It's not too high to step over.
  • Salon door. Same idea.
  • In the cockpit, if stuck in a marina and it's sizzling hot.
It draws 0.6-1.2 amps @ 110v AC (about 6-12 amps at 12 volts from the batteries, post inverter) depending on the speed setting, about 66-132 watts, or about 10x less than AC. About 70 amp-hours if you run it all night on low--though generally at some point in the night we turn it off--a manageable load easily handled with a solar panel system. There are many equivalent models, probably even better models; be certain to get one that is very quiet on low and that swivels up. It moves 1400-2000 CFM; compare this to the 225 CFM and 0.3 amps of a typical cabin fan. Oddly, not as energy efficient, but much quieter than 10  6-inch fans!

Since them we've experimented with some 12-inch fans. More convenient--good when set on low for moving air through the cabins at the ends of the boat--but the 20-inch fan remains the workhorse.

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I'd be happy to add entire descriptions, if you have an idea that fits. Just give a hint here and we'll swap e-mails.