Every time we’ve been aboard a catamaran, Dave and I have remarked about how light and bright it is inside. But last January, aboard Beagle Knot (they’ve just started officially offering charters — check them out) we discovered the downside to this, as well as a simple and ingenious solution.
You see, all the panoramic (and mostly non-opening) windows aboard Beagle Knot are fine while the sun is high in the sky. But by mid-afternoon the sun is pouring through those windows on one side of the boat and it’s getting HOT inside!
LaDonna got some auto windshield reflectors and cut them to size for the windows and simply puts the ones in that are needed on a given day. She uses just a bit of masking tape on each one — since they’re only up for a few hours, it comes off easily. You can see in the top photo how she labelled each one for where it goes — it literally takes her about a minute to put them up!
If they’re leaving the boat for any amount of time — say snorkeling, walking the beach or a shore excursion — they put all the window covers in so that even if the boat swings at anchor, the inside will be shaded.
They also have pieces on the inside of the hatches in the cabins — these are usually open when at anchor and only closed underway or if it’s raining, so it doesn’t interfere with light in the cabin but significantly cuts the heat build-up when they’re underway. Should there be an extended rainy period when they want the hatches closed but also want the light, it only takes a second to remove them.
When we bought Barefoot Gal and immediately prepped her for summer storage in the blazing Florida sun, we did a slight variation on LaDonna’s idea. We bought rolls of Reflectix, which are basically the material that the auto windshield shades are made from and cheaper than the shades (it can be hard to find outside the US, hence using windshield shades). I’ve written before about using Reflectix to add insulation to your refrigerator or cooler — see that article here.
Reflectix is easy to cut and shape as necessary — it’s bubble wrap with foil on both sides. I simply taped a piece roughly in place, then used a felt pen to draw the shape of the window. I took the piece down and just cut along my lines and got quite a good fit.
I didn’t want to use masking tape as I worried that it’d be hard to get off after six months. Instead, I used Command Strips for posters. The poster strips are much cheaper than the heavier-duty picture hanging strips, and provide plenty of hold as the Reflectix is extremely light weight. So far, our boat-watcher says they’re holding just fine (we were worried with the heat) and none of our pieces have fallen down.
UPDATE: Don’t use Command Strips. They leave a nasty residue on the windows in the sun.
NOTE though, that the command strips aren’t suitable if you’re using the windows covers on an as-needed basis.
Both Reflectix and Command Strips are sold at many home improvement stores. In Fort Myers, where we were, Home Depot didn’t carry it in the store, but Lowe’s did. If you can’t find it near you — or just prefer the convenience of having it delivered to your door or the marina office — both are available on Amazon:
Wondering how much to get? To do our entire boat (Gemini 34′ catamaran) I used one roll of Reflectix that was 18″ wide and 25′ long and one that was 24″ wide and 25′ long and had a little left over.