Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Window Treatments on a Boat?

Although natural light is a great addition to any room, windows have their downsides. In addition to light, they let in heat. Not a bad thing in a house up north in the winter, but on a boat in Florida, big windows (boatspeak: "ports") can turn the interior into a greenhouse pretty quickly. Although we run the A/C when we are at the dock, we can't run the A/C very easily/inexpensively at sea, so we need to control the amount of heat that comes through the windows and builds up inside the boat. This problem is more serious on Sea Gem than on most boats because Sea Gem has enormous windows that don't open. The windows are thus very effective at both letting in and trapping lots of heat. This is a problem.

Fortunately, Sea Gem's prior owners came up with a solution that lets us control the amount of light and heat that comes through the windows: Bermuda shutters. Here they are positioned in a variety of sun-blocking angles:

I have seen many boats, but I had never seen Bermuda shutters on a boat before stepping aboard Sea Gem. It is incredible that they have not caught on. Boat manufacturers should consider making them standard equipment because they really do work. We can control the amount of light that gets in, from shutting it out completely to filling the room with sunlight.

A second downside to large windows on a boat is that they can break. In a big storm, a well-placed wave could potentially smash a large port and fill the boat with water, and that unpleasant scenario is well worth trying to avoid. On Sea Gem, we don't have to worry about that problem because we have storm windows on the outside of the windows:

The storm windows are extremely thick plexiglass--strong enough to protect the windows from a freak wave, and they have the benefit of being clear so that we can leave them installed all the time and still get light down below.

Between the shutters and the storm windows, we are able to enjoy the benefits of having nearly house-sized windows on our boat without suffering the consequences. One more feature that makes Sea Gem an excellent home.


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