Keeping Cool when it's hot inside or outside

Being in the south we get some hot days.  I would venture to say it is as hot here as it is in the Caribbean except we don't have the benefit of that 15-20 mph continuous breeze.  So it is not uncommon that we do work on the outside of the boat and it quickly becomes more difficult as the heat starts to almost hit oppressive levels.

When we have done intercostal passages (where there is very little breeze), we have used 4 wash clothes dampened and stored in ziplock baggies in the fridge.  We would take them out and drape them on our head or neck and it would provide a nice relief for a few minutes.  After they didn't feel cooler than the air, we would rinse them out, dampen them again and put them back in the fridge.  We did this with 2 sets of washcloths so we could alternate them.    While this was workable it didn't last long and didn't really provide any protection from the sun or UV rays.

Then we saw thee cooling towels one time in the store.  We didn't pay much attention as it seemed gimmicky and they were expensive for the little swatch of material. 

After years, I finally gave it and bought a couple of these things.  I got a "towel" and also this sleeve kind of thing that you can wear around your neck or head, etc.  (There are like a dozen ways to wear it, but frankly there are only 2 or 3 that I typically use).  On the left you can see the basic item just slid over my head and down to my chin.  Typically I would wear it lower so it is only on my neck, not up over my mouth like this.  I don't want people to think I am coming in for some kind of robbery with my face covered.

I also opted for a neutral color, they had them in black, blue and I think I even saw some in hot pink and other wild colors.  I wanted something that wouldn't stand out so much in the event I am working and going on into town or a store.   I didn't want to stand out like a sore thumb.

Here is how they work and my experience with them.  In short it is some kind of fabric that essentially wicks sweat from your body on the inner layer of the product, and then the outer layer allows that sweat or any water you put on the towel to travel and spread out within the outer layer of light fabric.  When air flows through it the air cools the moisture and provides a cooling effect.  The weave in the fabric on the outer layer is designed to hold that moisture in the material as long as possible to prolong the cooling effect.   The way that you trigger this effect is to run water on it and wring it out real good.  You then "snap" it for 2-4 times to activate it.  At the end of the day, all the snapping does is get air flowing through the outer fabric to start the cooling, you can fling it, swing it around or wave it and get the same effect.

The company that we got our's from state that the results depend on the amount of water on the towel, the airflow, body temperature, etc and that results vary depending on the circumstance.  They state that in normal usage the towel can be about 30 degrees cooler than the body and can last for several hours.  In my experience is doesn't last that long.  When working outside and a slight breeze it seems between and hour or two.  In no wind and a crazy hot day (above 90 degrees fahrenheit) the material tends to dry out fairly quickly and I soak it a bit more often, or at least remember to about each hour or so.  When working inside, it doesn't provide the same level of cooling (maybe 10 degrees cooler but tends to last for 2-3 hours and is very refreshing.  

The other thing that I found interesting about these is that they have a certain amount of UV blocking characteristics too.  I am a bit vague on this as the towel states that it is essentially SPF 50.  However it doesn't say that on the sleeve (or what the company calls the "Multi-Cool Pro"   If you watch for sales I have seen these for as little as $10 for the sleeves (like the photos in this blog) and I think regular price is about $24 USD.  

My Most common way of wearing it (sometimes I just
double the tail back onto my head like a small beanie/cap
I don't have any kind of an endorsement from this company, I just happen to like the way these work.  
The other 2 ways I wear this when working is like a do-rag if I am indoors.  If I am outdoors, I wear it with a longer extension or "tail" to cover my neck.   This blocks the sun from burning my neck but also feels good to keep the back of the neck cool.  At times I will tuck the tail into the collar of my t-shirt and allow it to cool my shoulders or upper back wherever it happens to touch while moving around.

If you see these on sale somewhere give them a try, or order one for yourself.  Anyone on a boat, would likely appreciate these.  I have seen something similar at West Marine, but they are obscenely expensive there, $25-$35 if I recall.

If you are interested below is a link to the one that I picked up.  I noticed on Amazon, the color you get depends on the cost, which is kind of interesting.

The image on the right is a link to order them on Amazon but in the spirit of full disclosure, I happened to pick my most recent one up at Lowes Home Improvement.  I was in there getting other supplies and noticed that they had all of their products at 50% off.  So the item normally marked $24.99 was marked down to $19.99 and then half off, so $10 was a really good price for it.  Given how well I like this sleeve style item, I may run back there to pick up a couple more and keep them handy for others that visit on board as well.

Like the most interesting man in the world says "Stay Thirsty my Friends"  When you work outside or on the boat in the South, the saying changes to "Stay Cool my Friends".

Here's hoping you have a steady breeze and a following sea.

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