24 September, 2013

Sea and Shade and Sun

According to the Weather Underground Almanac, the hot weather in our part of Belize lasts from May through September, and this September is certainly not letting its end of the bargain down!  The high for the last several days and forecast for most of the upcoming week is in the low 90s F (30 C).  Because we face east toward the Caribbean, the morning sun comes straight in our veranda from dawn (6:00 AM +/- 30 min) until about 10:00 AM.  As you can imagine, this yields considerable undesired solar gain.  We didn't want to plant trees to shade the east side because that would block the sea breeze and our view.  So we decided to try our hand at making solar shades that would meet our requirements.  Namely they should withstand the UV, the wind, and the salt air and would be easy to use, inexpensive, and relatively simple to make and maintain.  We don't ask for much, do we?  Below is version 1.1 of the shades in the first 4 of 11 sections of screened veranda.
Shades from Keystone's (cheaper) version of Coolaroo shade fabric.  Can't you just feel the heat from the blazing sun?
The shades need to adjustable, yet anchored at each level to keep them from flapping in the breeze. 
We have 3 levels for the shades:  fully furled, 1/3rd down, and fully unfurled.
Version 1.0 was made with cheap cup hooks for hanging and anchoring using the butterfly clips alone.  Version 1.1 upgraded the cuphooks to stainless steel eyehooks and added stainless steel carbiners to make it easier to adjust the levels.
Stainless steel eyehooks and carabiners attached to the black plastic butterfly clips anchor the shades at the 1/3rd unfurled level.  This height was determined as the maximum height I can reach without using a stool - very critical to meet the "easy to use" requirement!  Luckily, that also keeps the shades high enough so they don't block the view.
I cut the Keystone fabric so that the selvedged edges were the top and bottom of each section.  This particular weave of shade fabric blocks out 90% of the UV light, which is a big plus.  I left the cut edges unfinished and I don't think I will bother to finish them; I may trim off some of the errant threads if they get too unruly.
The shades puff out in the breeze, but are securely anchored with the hooks and carabiners.  Simply unclip the carabiners, let the shade unroll, and reclip at the bottom to get the full shade effect.
The butterfly clips were easy to attached to the fabric using needle nose pliers .
There is a pattern of little prongs that poke through the fabric and then through the holes on the other side of the clip when you fold the clip over, thus securing the clip to the fabric.
 We can tell a tremendous difference in temperature of the side of the veranda that is shaded compared to the unshaded side. Once we were happy with the shades, I bought the fabric and other supplies to do the rest of the veranda.  For the entire length of the veranda (34 ft), the fabric was about $70, stainless steel hooks and carabiners were $25, and butterfly clips were $10; all on Amazon with free shipping. 
Sun on the left and shade on the right with shades fully unfurled on a sunny morning.
So what do you do on a hot morning without a sea breeze to help keep you cool?   You get in the water, silly!  This morning, Dennis and I got in the water, which is quite shallow in front of our place.  I took my camera with me as we waded to the south of the dock.
I took this photo standing in mid-thigh deep water about 60 ft off shore.
We waded in the water to the south past our property.  And then I swam a bit longer once I handed the camera off to Dennis.  The only people we saw were in 2 boats - one was a tour boat with Percy at the helm, probably on the way to give his 2 clients a tour up the Monkey River.  The other boat had our neighbor Lloydie and his lady Diana in it going to the village for the day.
Dock-eye view of our cabana.
We saw a couple of stingrays, some small fish, and whelks, but not much else.  The water was flat and clear - and very refreshing.  An idyllic day in South Englishtown.
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  1. Wilma,
    You certainly paint an idyllic picture to us here in the UK who are about to enter the dark and cold of autumn and then winter, especially when we only get 30 degrees a couple of times a year and its then called a heatwave!
    Do you suffer much from hurricanes there.

    1. It sure has its idyllic moments, Derek. From the historical records, only a handful of hurricanes have made landfall in the southern third of Belize. The last one was Iris in 2001 and she did some serious damage right here. In fact, that was the main reason we had to clear so many of the trees - 90% were damaged to the point of being unstable or unhealthy or both. The other 2 hurricanes were in 1960s and 1970s. If you look on a map, you can see that we are tucked down in a little pocket that is protected from direct hits. Still, we do have an evacuation plan just in case.

  2. Goodness me - even a shopping trip is an adventure, expensive for fuel as well.
    I do like the sun blinds.I could do with some of that under the roof of my conservatory as it can easily reach 40C when the Sun blazes down.

    1. Every day is an adventure here, whether you are ready or not!
      The sun shades are working great. I now have 8 panels installed, 3 more to go. I'm sure the sun shade fabric would do the trick for you. With your tinkering habit, I bet you could rig up something connected to a thermostat to automatically open and close them!

  3. Wilma,
    Nancy Moltaji sent me an email yesterday saying you had left Mayo! We knew it was in the works but not when...google is a wonderful thing...able to track you to this lovely blog. I look forward to your updates as you and Dennis live the dream.

    1. Alice! Good to hear from you. Are you back in MN? I had heard a rumor to that effect. I'll send you an email so we can communicate offline. Cheers!


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