Monday, February 18, 2013

Beat The Heat

Back in the day, we lived in a house.  Unlike Kiwi and Aussie houses, which tend to be low and spreading, Canadian houses go up and up.  And in a Southern Ontario summer, things got hot upstairs.  Our family room was on the third floor, and it was positively melting when the thermometer crept above 30 degrees Celsius. 

Except, we had air conditioning.  It was a power-wasting luxury, but, being home with small kids, I loved it.  It was hard to adjust correctly - you were always too cold in one place and too warm in another - but we didn't much mind.  One did have to be careful, though; one summer, the a/c broke down while we were at the cottage.  Sadly, our fish tank was situated at the top of the house, and, by the time we got back, the fish had liquefied. We moved Fish Tank Mark II down to the second floor with better results.

When we moved aboard Papillon, we had a tiny plug-in air conditioner, much like the window-mount units people often have in apartments.  The first time Erik and I tried to wrestle it into the companionway for the night, we managed to drop it on my leg.

Yes, it hurt just as much as you think it did.
And that's the last time I remember using it.  Which is good; we were young and foolish in those days, and had no concept of just how much power an air conditioner would steal on a boat.

We sold the air conditioner when the opportunity arose, and happily sailed through the topics without it.  Sure, it was hot, but we were in bathing suits most of the time, and swimming all day long.  Who needs a/c?

In New Zealand, we had the opposite problem, and had to fire up the diesel heater to fight the damp and cold.  But in Australia, it is hot.  Really, really hot.  Erik reports that, when the wind starts blowing where he works, it feels like walking around in front of a hair dryer.  Even here in town it gets hot; we took a drive through the Adelaide Hills on the weekend, and this sign caught my eye.

That's 96.8 Fahrenheit, people.

Last week we had a few hot nights, which did not help the precarious sleeping situation around here.  I mentioned this on a call to my parents.

"Don't you have an air conditioner?" asked my dad.

Oh.  Yes.  Yes, actually, we do.  I'd forgotten all about it.

(Indy just asked me what an air conditioner is.  I pointed out the unit in our apartment and explained its function.  "Oh," she said.  "I thought that was a hand dryer.")

Later that morning, the maintenance man for our building came through the apartment to check on a few things.  We chatted about the rising temperatures, and he was horrified to discover that I hadn't even turned the unit on yet.  This was a serious breach of protocol.  He abandoned his work to give me a quick overview, and to set the air conditioner to a decent temperature.

He told me - quite seriously - that 19 C was the way to go.  That sounded a little frosty to me, but who am I to ignore expert advice?  So, we set the unit to 19 C, and the day went on.

I quickly began to lose feeling in my fingers.  I turned the controller to 20 C.  I still craved a sweater.  21.  No good.  22.  23.  At 24 C, the girls and I agreed that things were becoming comfortable.  Instead of an artic blast, we had a cool trickle pouring out of the unit above the couch.  People could sit below it without a blanket.  Just right.

But, even though it sometimes feels like Hell's foyer out here, we are still trying to enjoy the great outdoors.  We spent our weekend at the local park:

Stylish on the zipline.

Mom, I'm not getting anywhere.
So much climbing goodness.
The beach:
Sand!  We never get to play in the sand!

Lunch, now with extra sand.
We looked for wildlife, but this was as close as we got:

And, sometimes, we just sat around and made hats:
What else do you do with old envelopes?
A pretty good couple of days, at any temperature.


Anonymous said...

That park looks terrific. Even I would like a try at the rolly device.

Kate said...

It is cold and raining today. The snow is trapping the rain on the sidewalk, so when the person beside you steps in a puddle it splashes freezing rain on your leg. I wish I was in your heat.

I totally agree on the A/C front. My a/c is broken and I have never found a need for it in the last three summers. At work they make it so cold in the summer I need a sweater...

Love Kate

Karen said...

Awesome bruise!

Darryl Iorio said...

I have to admire you guys for not having your air conditioning turned on 24/7. While it burns a hole in my pocket when the electric bill comes, I don't think I could survive summers without it. I guess it really depends on the type of weather someone's accustomed to.

Amy Schaefer said...

@Darryl Iorio: It's funny - the heat feels much worse in a house than on a boat. Maybe because we can wander around in bathing suits aboard and not get weird looks from the neighbours.

Randall Rogers said...

Well, that is an ominous sign. I hope it doesn’t get that hot often during the summer, but then again, we are taking about summer here. Haha! That being said, I also think 19 degrees is a bit of an overkill, especially if only a few of you are utilizing the AC at the moment. Setting it at 21-23 degrees is often the sweet spot on a hot day. Anyway, I hope you’re all doing well!

Randall Rogers @ R.J. Mechanical

Ambrose said...

In my own personal experience, air conditioning is a luxury that spoils us for the long-term. I did not have a/c in my home for about 4 years, and we managed just fine. Now that I have an a/c unit, my family seems to think they will instantly melt into a steamy puddle if it is not running all the time. It is like many things in life, you do not know what you are missing if you have not ever had it!

Ambrose @ Brown & Reaves Services, Inc.