By Ruth Lund

Before I went cruising, I was not a fan of fans. I found them them noisy, sometimes hurtful to people and pets, a devil to keep clean, and always in the way when not in use. However, I could never have survived 21 years living onboard a yacht in the Caribbean without them.

When I moaned about not sleeping in the heat and humidity to a seasoned cruiser shortly after crossing the Atlantic and arriving in St Maarten, she said: “Just put a fan at the end of your bunk and leave it on all night.”

My immediate reaction was: “All night – what about the noise, what about running out of boat power?” Despite these misgivings I soon joined the “fan club”. We eventually had 8 fans throughout our small boat and here is why:

Cooling comfort for humans and equipment

Fans help ventilate those corners of a yacht not directly under a hatch or near a porthole. Cozy cabins built for colder climes, airless engine compartments, or a galley where an open hatch would funnel too much breeze, come to mind. Fans also keep you cool when sailing in a muggy tropical storm with the hatches battened down.  

And it is not just humans that need comfort to function well – we had a fan above our autohelm control unit and our little fridge – as both gave off quite a bit of performance-reducing heat.

Safe, stylish models

Marine fans are small, easy to install on horizontal or vertical surfaces, and designed to take bumps in rough seas. Safety features include protective grills and in the case of the clever ULTIMATE FAN, a soft-edge, finger-safe propeller that can be easily replaced when necessary.


Calming low-key white noise

Today’s marine fans make relatively little noise. When SOCA music started up at who knows how many decibels, we closed the hatches, put on our cabin KONA FANS, and were able to sleep. This could also be an advantage in noisy boatyards, anchorages, and marinas.


Health and practicality

When water for washing is limited, reducing damp and sweaty clothes, sheets and pillows that cause skin irritation and pile up dirty laundry, is a plus. Anything that gives relief from constant stickiness improves one’s mental and physical state. And if you are looking for powerful total re-circulation of your boat with fresh air, check out the versatile TAKU HATCH FAN.


Low-cost solution

12-volt marine fans take little power to run and one of our best buys was a SIROCCO FAN that could be set for a short time, switching itself off by the time we had fallen asleep.  Even when theydo eventually wear out and require replacement, fans remain a low-cost comfort solution, specially when compared to air conditioning units, and they are “lifesavers” in the fight against damp and mildew during the hurricane season.