Acclimating – living on a boat without air conditioning

sailing luna sea

You won’t have air conditioning when you leave the Marina?!?! How are you going to survive!?!?!?!

Air Conditioning. Yes, that is one of the most asked questions about this life.  At least from our friends here in sweaty-as-all-get-out Savannah, GA.  As soon as people realize we won’t have A/C when we unplug from the dock and sail away, they get a look in their eyes.  Kind of an “I think you are crazy, but don’t want to hurt your feelings” look.  They worry about us.  Not because we are going out to sea, but because we are quite possibly going to sweat to death while doing it.

It doesn’t help that we are going through a record heat streak here.  60 or 70 some odd days straight in the 90’s, with a LOT of those days 100+.  I understand the concern.  And to some degree, we have the same worries.  But never fear!  As always, we have a plan.

While Mark was working, I was hesitant to mess with our sleeping routine.  We like it cold when we sleep.  We both tunnel under our blanket.  God forbid a toe poke out from under that blanket, because that little piggy would get frost bite…

Did this habit prep us for living on a boat in the Caribbean?  Uh, no.  Absolutely not.

As soon as Mark wrapped it up at work, I started jacking with the thermostat.  Each day I bump up the temperature a degree or two.  We run the fans.  We sit outside more.

A year or so ago, when it was time to purchase a blanket for the boat, I had to make a choice:  a big fluffy blanket that would keep us warm in our arctic tundra of a cabin, or a light weight version that would have us shivering ourselves to sleep each night.

After a little thought, I compromised.  And I think it has worked out nicely.  I ended up picking up a duvet cover.  I cut it to fit our boat bed (a queen with some custom “modifications”).  I then took our existing comforter (a very basic poly filled blanket) and cut it to fit as well.  I added some snaps to the corners, opposite the duvet opening.  The only thing I’ve never liked about duvets is the tendency for the inside blanket to migrate.  So now it stays snapped firmly in place until it’s time to remove it – for wash, or rising temps.

Sailing Luna Sea master cabin

Our cozy sleeping quarters.

Now that we are sleeping comfortably, just south of 80 degrees, I’ve obviously taken the interior blanket out of the duvet.  So we are basically sleeping with a sheet covered in the duvet – which is just a heavy sheet…

The heat wave has finally broken around here, and the evening temps are finally lowering.  I’ve even dug out an additional blanket, as I’m getting chilly.  Apparently we are acclimating just fine.

So what ARE we going to do when we leave and don’t have air conditioning?

As long as it’s not raining, we can open all of the hatches (and install all the screens over those hatches -to keep out the bugs). And we have fans in each room. Fortunately, Luna Sea came with a couple (maybe 3?) windscoops.  Neptune has graciously accepted one of them as an offering, but we still have at least one – and it is AMAZING.  Is it still going to be warm sometimes?  Yes.  Especially on hot, rainy days.  But we’re counting on those Caribbean winds to keep us cool for the most part!

We will also likely spend the hottest part of the days in the water.  That’s a pretty quick way to drop your core temp significantly.  And there will be so much to see when we get to clear waters!

I’ve been swimming here daily, but after the SECOND jellyfish sting in a week, I’m taking a break.  I’ll pick back up when we get into clear enough water for me to see my attackers.

One thing we are not doing?  Getting used to the humidity… :/  We ARE still using the A/C – so it is drying out the air.  But we’re getting there.  It’s a fun little balance between getting ready for our destination and enjoying the perks we still have.

Do you have any tips for staying cool in the islands?  Do you have any questions you want answered about transitioning to boat life?  Feel free to leave a comment!  I love knowing you were here and reading the blog 🙂


    • Jennifer s/v Luna Sea

      Thanks Ross, we already have wind scoops – and they are AMAZING. I just forgot to mention that in the post. I think I will update it, so thank you!

  • Ken and Deb


    For hot days, a water squirt bottle. Put a cube or two with water and just spritz yourself. Cools you right down. Usually about 1 or 2 dollars at Wally. Wide brim straw hats with a open weave crown. No cotton clothes. They never get dry. Loose and airy is the ticket. Keeping the sun off the boat helps a lot. We had a Pifertex shade cover made for the boat. Just a big rectangle with PVC pipe to spread it. Blocks about 80% of the sun, lets hot air rise. Remember, half the boat is under the water, so that helps keep you cooler. Anchoring out as opposed to marina usually allows better air flow. Finally, just being outside a lot. You get use to climate so you don’t notice much. You adapt. Ken and Deb

    • Jennifer

      Oh, now, what if we don’t have ice!??! Ha ha! Actually, we’re starting to make ice, just need to see if the freezer can keep up when we are on anchor. Can’t wait to try that trick! Thanks for all the tips, guys. I know these will all come in handy for anybody visiting the hot sweaty climates we’re aiming for. 🙂

  • Candy Hicks


    IT’S ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL SO EXCITING ! ! ! ! When we were kids without airconditioning Mom would turn on the fan and put ice in front of it and we would sit or lie on the floor ….pretty cool .. 🙂

    • Jennifer

      Oooh, ice in front of the fan. That’s similar to Ken and Deb’s ice water suggestion. Sounds like we’re going to need ice!

  • Deb


    We’ve really never missed the air conditioning in the Bahamas but we haven’t gone much farther south than Eleuthera so I can’t vouch for the southern Caribbean. We absolutely won’t live on the dock in Florida without it though. I’ll be glad to get out of here and ditch it so we don’t have the noise!!

    SV Kintala

    • Jennifer

      Hey Deb – yes, I cannot imagine not having it in Savannah, GA in summer… It’s cooling down now, so it could be do-able. But not the past 3 or 4 months – we would’ve been MISERABLE!
      So glad to hear you were just fine in the Bahamas. We plan to hang out there for quite a while when we finally leave the states!
      Thanks for chiming in – hope to run into you out there!

  • Ken and Deb


    About the spray bottle. Deb used the ice cubes because of her hot flashes. Just plain water will cool you down just fine due to evaporation. Just use a fine mist. She is glad (and I am really really glad!) those days are past. Ken

  • Suzy


    Hi Jennifer… I just discovered your website and FB page tonight through Tammy Campbell’s FB posts about Hermine.
    My hubby and I are fellow Geechee members with Tammy and Rich.
    We spend our summers (Memorial Day through Labor Day) on beautiful Lake Champlain in upstate NY away from Savannah’s heat and humidity. We live there full time on our 36′ 1983 Catalina. We love it. In fact we love it so much we are considering selling our condo on Whitemarsh Island and getting a boat to live on down there. I’m a little reluctant as I am a weaver and would miss the 3rd bedroom studio I have now…but I’m willing to consider it.
    We are both retired… Bob from lobbying for NYS Farm Bureau (yes… We had a dairy farm for 18 yrs in a former life) and I from teaching art. We retired early… So not much expendable income… But it’s a possibility.
    I’d love to meet you once we get back in a few weeks to chat about this all year living on a boat idea (actually it would be 2 boats… One on Lake Champlain June-Sept and one in Savannah Sept-June.)
    Anyway… Loving your posts… Hope to meet up someday soon…

    • Jennifer

      Hey Suzy! Welcome aboard! And thanks for check in with us. I’d love to visit, if we’re still here when you get here. Feel free to shoot us an email when you headed this way!
      I’ve had to cut way back on my art supplies, but so far, I think it will be enough basic stuff to keep busy/make things. It is certainly do-able on a boat. Good luck – and more importantly have fun 🙂

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