Spending the summer at anchor in Florida is only possible with good ventilation. When the boat is free to swing, it usually orients itself to any available breeze, but that breeze still needs to be captured and forced down into the boat. This is the role of the ubiquitous windscoop, which is essentially a little spinnaker positioned over a hatch and held up by a halyard.
Some are chambered to capture the breeze from any direction. This would be ideal if you were tied to a dock or the current were influencing the boat’s heading more than the breeze, which sometimes happens. My objection to this type is how to close the hatch for rain. This type has to extend down inside the hatch, or otherwise obstruct the hatch opening, making it impossible to close up without taking down the scoop. Taking down a windscoop is normally not a big deal. But doing it in the middle of the night, bleary-eyed and naked, on a wet deck in a strong breeze and cold rain is no fun at all. And that’s the way it happens. Every. Damn. Time.
So we don’t use that kind. Instead, we’ve been using the more common single sided variety. Our hatches face backwards, and these scoops still recommend attachment inside the front edge of the hatch, but we quickly abandoned that for the above reasons. Instead, we broke down and installed attachment points on the deck outside the hatch so we could simply close the hatch from inside, leaving the scoop in place. With aft-facing hatches, we can often stay dry with the hatch cracked.
Our complaints about these type of scoop are that they still require a halyard, the material is quickly destroyed by UV, and they’re too big. The breezes we frequently get at night are too strong for these big scoops. And I’m not sure the bigger scoop results in more ventilation anyway. So I sewed reef points into a pair of them so to make them smaller, and that worked better, but was too much effort. We considered designing our own out of more durable material, but don’t have that kind of skill or energy.
We chewed through a few Davis brand scoops before trying the West Marine brand, which we like better. It has sewn loops instead of grommets and feels like sturdier material. The West scoop hasn’t died yet, but it is still too big, and still needs a halyard. Poor Sarah doesn’t have a halyard over her hatch.
Then we saw another boat with a small self-supporting scoop over its hatch. Upon investigation we learned it was called a Breeze Booster. We ordered one and like it very much. A little more expensive, but it came with a note recommending 303 Aerospace Protectant to reduce UV damage, so hopefully it will last a little longer. It still wants to go inside the front edge of the hatch, but it will work fine with our existing deck attachments. We’ve now ordered a few more and hope this will be a good solution.