One thing you can count on sailing is to be exposed to a lot of sun. Tahina has a bimini (a roof over our cockpit area) that provides a lot shade, but Tahina also has a lot of other deck that is exposed to the sun. We have discussed many times getting some awnings to cover more of the cockpit, and more of our decks. We have envied other boats that had much more shade protection. But, it wasn’t until we got to Singapore and Malaysia that we found it a real necessity. The sun this close to the equator is blazingly hot. If it wasn’t for the air conditioner we have been using at the marinas we would be miserable.
Fortunately, when we got to Pangkor Marina for our boatyard work, we discovered a South African couple on a boat here who are riggers and make awnings. Chris and Lynne were in the boatyard at the same time as us, so they couldn’t start work until after we got back into the water. This is why we have stayed longer at Pangkor.
They first worked a couple of days on the main awning covering the front part of the boat. This goes from the mast to the bows and provides a lot of shade, and protection from rain, while still allowing the breeze to come through the boat. The photo above shows it shortly after completion. The material is called Weathermax and is reportedly as strong, and provides as much UV protection, as Sunbrella. But, it is much lighter. It’s also made by a company based in North Carolina. Chris and Lynne are real pros at this and have helped us keep the design as simple to install and take down as possible, while still enabling a taut fit so the shades can stay up in even moderately windy conditions.
Next, they worked on the cockpit awnings which cover the sides of the cockpit, and a bit forward so we can have good shade coverage. We can leave this cover up even on calm or light-wind sailing while underway. But, especially while at anchor or in a marina.
The final project is the center section which will cover the salon – our main living area inside. This one will be particularly important for reducing the temperature inside the boat on blazing sunny days.
The amazing thing is that this really creates a lot more space for us to hang out on the boat. We set up some chairs on the front deck and can just sit out there when there’s a nice breeze. I can also set up the hammock near the trampolines and lay out in comfort and shade. The cockpit shades are making a surprising difference to the comfort level there.
Here is an album showing the awnings and the shade they create. I’ll add photos of the middle section when they are completed.