Hotter than Hades here in Ottawa

The topography of Ottawa appears to be as flat as a pancake but we actually live in a valley. And, in the summer, it gets hot. Really hot. The feeling is not unlike being trapped in a bowl of heat.

Environment Canada and Ottawa Public Health issued a heat warning [today] as the mercury is expected to reach 30C until at least Thursday. Ottawa Citizen, July 27, 2015.

We have air conditioning on SV Aphrodite. But, won’t be using it when we anchor out, which is what we plan to do most nights. The temperatures that we are experiencing now in Ottawa has me thinking about how we’ll cope with the heat, year-round, in the Caribbean.

I’d like to think that this heat forces us to consider strategies that will help us when we are cruising. A few days ago, we packed up our tent and temporarily moved to a house closer to the city. It is a rustic house – 10 minutes drive from the Parliament buildings. Once considered to be Ottawa’s cottage country, the location is perfect.

Our kids at the 'duck pond', which is along the Ottawa River Parkway
Our kids play at the duck pond, which is 10 minutes from Ottawa and a 15-minute walk from the house where we are staying.

But, the house doesn’t have air conditioning.

So, at sunset today my husband, Rick, suggested a walk along the Ottawa River pathway to the ‘duck pond’.  (Ottawa has more than 600 km of bike paths.) Rick reasoned that no one would be sleeping in the heat. We might as well be outside where it was cooler.

My husband, Rick, with Henry (left) and Paul (right)
My husband, Rick, with Henry (left) and Paul (right)

As darkness approached, we saw fireflies blinking in the tall grasses, and bats flying overhead.

Later, as we all lay on top of our camping gear – in the house – our kids complained about the heat. They were sweaty and cranky. Using technology as a balm, my husband read to us aloud from an article about “The History of Air Conditioning.” Soothed by the sound of his voice and perhaps lulled by the topic itself, our kids fell asleep quite quickly.

I gather from the article that porch sleeping might help, but we are just too close to the city to consider this as an option.

Curious as to what other people do to beat the summer heat, I turned to Cruisers Forum. Without air conditioning, one person referred to their trip to the British Virgin Islands as “7 wonderful days and 5 nights from hell.” Oh dear. A few people mentioned that they slept up top, on deck.

When I was in Antigua in April, I slept on deck to beat the heat. It was very pleasant. The wind kept the mosquitos at bay, and it was only the rain that drove me downstairs on one occasion

In Florida, we will have the shade of our bimini.  For the benefit of non-sailors, that’s the roof top cover at the back of the boat. And, when we depart from the marina, a positive attitude will be a must. (I must remind myself not to think of the heat as Hell.) Sleeping on the deck will be a strong option.

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