Why talk about fans for a boat? Well, if you only use your boat for day trips, you can probably skip this section altogether. However, if you do overnight, keep your boat at a dock or camp-cruise, a fan or fans might just be the key to a successful outing and a good night’s rest.
Fans used aboard boats can be divided into two groups, AC and DC. AC fans obviously require some kind of shore power. Yes, I know there are inverters out there that can provide AC power from our 12-volt batteries, but make sure you have the kind of battery power and the means to recharge the battery.
One of the problems being tied to a dock or slip is that the boat isn’t free to move around and take advantage of any prevailing wind to cool the boat. In fact, the wind is often cut-off by nearby boats, boats that usually seem much bigger than you are. Sweltering through a long August night in Tennessee convinced me that I needed a fan.
I actually ended up with two AC fans. The first was a small clip on fan that I could place in the opening between the galley area and the vee-berth. A big plastic clip like a clothespin made it convenient to clamp it on the edge of the bulkhead opening. It was multi-speed and had a flexible stem that allowed it to be directed where I wanted it.
The second fan was a larger oscillating pedestal fan. It was great for placing in the companionway and inducing airflow from the bow hatch and out the companionway. I ran this one mostly during the day, as it was overkill for nighttime use.
I also had a DC fan I could use when out on the hook or tied to the shore in a secluded cove. It, too, had a clamp that allowed it to be placed where I wanted it. The cord had a cigarette type plug that fit the accessory plug on my DC power panel. I was careful about using it as I only had one battery aboard and no means of charging it away from the dock.
There are also DC fans powered by flashlight batteries. I’ve never tried one but they look ideal for those boats that have no battery power. Coleman has something called a “tent fan” that is powered by a single “D: cell battery that can be mounted anywhere. One battery should last about 18 hours. Not bad for around $14.
Another popular DC fan is the Hella fan. These are designed to be permanently mounted and connected to the boats DC power system. They are quiet, are adjustable and have two speeds. We have five of them aboard the big boat, but again, they’re overkill for smaller boats. They do move a lot of air, quietly. Mounted near the bow end of the vee-berth in out big boat, these are just the ticket for keeping the air circulating in what otherwise would be dead air space.
The AC fans are off-the-shelf home models available at any discount store. They have held up aboard the boat for over six years, protected below. The DC fan was purchased at a marine store but they are also available at camping or RV stores. The good news is that they were all cheap enough that I could experiment with them until I found one that I liked.
So rather than doing nothing but complaining about the heat, try installing some fans. While the results won’t be as spectacularly cool as a full-blown air conditioner, the price is an order of magnitude less. That will leave more cash for the gas!
Caframo #707CL A/C Fan with clamp.
Caframo Dragonfly A/C Fan.
Caframo Elan A/C Fan.
Caframo #737 Fan. 300 hours on four “D” cell batteries. Can run on 120-volt A/C with adapter.
Caframo #807 Sirocco Fan. Folds flat against the cabin wall when not in use. Battery saver timer shuts off fan, if battery voltage drops below 10.5 volts, fan will not run.
Caframo #827 Fan. Powered by one “D” cell battery.
Coleman Tent Fan. Powered by one “D” cell battery.
Hella Turbo Fan