SimplySailingOnline.com shows by example how easily you can eliminate stress, become more independent, raise your children in a safer environment (while spending more time with them, instilling values not based on the mighty dollar) and avoid the traps of commercialism. Because we live and sail simply, we have been wandering for 11 years with no intention of stopping. This is not a trip for us; it is our life, and I hope to share our success with stories of laughter and tears, as well as how-to tips and DIY projects for preparing, sailing and making a boat a home, so that others can join us.

Creative Fan Brackets

August 24, 2015

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about staying cool aboard in which I mentioned having five fans. I received a comment to that post from a reader concerned about the exorbitant cost of marine fans. She had seen our options for buying/finding more reasonably priced fans, but wasn't sure how to mount a random fan you scavenge from the dumpster or computer your neighbor is throwing away. So today we'll share some of our methods for installing not-necessarily-for-marine-use fans: the best kinds.

When we were commissioning the boat 15 years ago, we researched every purchase and weren't afraid to buy the best. We anticipated cruising for a while (though neither of us predicted THIS long!), and we are firm believers in "you get what you pay for." Ventilation was important, so we purchased the best we could afford: a 2-speed, 12-volt Hella. We installed the nifty little attachment under one of the steps on our companionway ladder so that it would cool the galley or the boys' bunks in the aft cabin, and we were all in heaven. For about six months. When our Hella died, we realized it was a habit we couldn't afford to maintain, so we investigated other options, and found 3-packs of computer fans at Radio Shack for $14. (Some of the five fans we are currently using are from that original 3-pack. Sort of makes the price of a Hella look silly, huh?) But like our reader pointed out, buying them is the easy part. It's installing them that gets tricky.


Hella fan bracket

It wasn't easy or immediate. In fact, it probably took months to device a good plan, but Dave persevered. He started with the Hella bracket, but he installed in the corner of a cheap fan two short pieces of dowel that fit in the bracket. They are a tight enough fit that tension keeps the fan pointed in any direction, and we can still swivel the bracket like we did the original fan. Since Hella fans obviously aren't forever, these brackets are almost as easy to find (consignment shops, free piles at marinas, dumpsters) as cheap fans are.


The dowel is the key.

At one time, we had three fans, but only one Hella bracket, so Dave had to get creative again. This time he found (in a free pile somewhere), a bracket for holding some sort of device, probably a GPS or other screened electronics. He mounted this to the wall, then built a wooden brace to attach the fan to the bracket. (The trick is not to block any more airflow from the back of the fan than necessary.) The bracket swivels in all directions. He installed two of these in the salon.


Ball-joint bracket

Then we were left with needing a way to install a fan in the V-berth (and 15 years later, in the head). After prototyping several ideas, we ended up using our trusty fallback plan for everything: string. We installed two cup hooks in the backside of the purlin and then wove string through the holes in the corners of the fan (intended for screws) with knots on one end and loops on the other. By changing how the fan hangs from these strings, we get a wide range of motion from this method. When I finally got a fan installed in the head, we again used cup hooks and string to allow the fan to be adjustable.


Maintain as much airflow behind the fan as possible.

I'm sure there are dozens of creative ways to install inexpensive fans. If you have one, please share! We are on the lookout for two more fans for the salon and are always open to suggestion.


String is king.

You've conquered the To Buy list, you are whittling away at the To Do list, but have you even started working on the most important list of all? MONDAY we'll talk about the preparations for cruising that are often forgotten because they can't be purchased.

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