Best Wind Scoops: How to Use Them Properly

Best Wind Scoops: How to Use Them Properly | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

June 15, 2022

Wind scoops are an excellent passive ventilation tool for use at anchor or when moored at the dock.

The best wind scoops are the Plastimo Ventilated Sail, the Dorcap Hatch Vent, the Breeze Booster Hatch Ventilator, the Breeze Booster Port Ventilator, and the Breeze Bandit Hatch Ventilator.

In this article, we'll cover how to use wind scoops effectively for ventilation. We'll also discuss the best situations in which to use wind scoops, and we'll feature five of the best on the market today.

This article is based on information sourced directly from wind scoop manufacturers and sailors who use wind scoops as an alternative to air conditioning.


Table of contents

What is a Wind Scoop?

Wind scoops are a lightweight and stowable alternative to air conditioning. They require no electricity, and they draw large volumes of outside air through the hatch or porthole of a sailboat.

Air scoops aren't as effective as regular air conditioning, but they're more affordable than fans, and (under the right conditions) they can provide significantly more ventilation. They're also highly compact when stowed and made of lightweight sail-like materials such as nylon and polyester.

Wind scoops are sometimes confused with deck cowls. While standard deck cowls can perform the same function, modern wind scoops are much larger and more efficient at ventilating a sailboat cabin.

How do Wind Scoops Work?

Wind scoops work the same way that traditional deck ventilators do, but on a larger scale. These large tent-like ventilators point towards the wind and channel it through the boat. Wind scoops are completely passive, and they take advantage of even the smallest breezes.

And while they're not as effective as air conditioning, they can easily add effective cooling and keep the air in your sailboat from becoming hot, stuffy, and stagnant.

How to Use a Wind Scoop Properly

Wind scoops can be somewhat tricky to use, but most people find the right alignment fast enough. The first step in using a wind scoop is to learn the circumstances in which it is most effective. Most wind scoops aren't designed to be used while underway. This is because of their lightweight construction and position on the boat. The ideal time to use a wind scoop for ventilation is when you're at anchor.

As most sailors know, an anchored sailboat will naturally turn and point into the wind, which is perfect for wind scoops. Wind scoops can also be used when in the marina as long as you orient the induction end towards the wind.

The primary purpose of a wind scoop is to simply redirect an existing breeze into and through a sailboat. The wind scoop is generally mounted over the front (forward) hatch, which must be open completely for it to be effective. This works best as it directs air from the narrowest part of the boat out into the wider spaces.

Remember that wind scoops are most effective when they move air through the boat. Since they don't actually cool the air, the best way to utilize them is to replace the existing air in the boat as often as possible. The best way to ensure that this occurs is to open the rear hatch, as it will allow the most efficient flow of air through the boat.

The same rule applies to other types of wind scoops, such as porthole scoops. In the case of larger wind scoops, you can use the companionway hatch or portholes to finely tune how much air flows through the cabin. Think of the companionway hatch as the thermostat or throttle.

Are Wind Scoops Weatherproof?

So, what should you do with your wind scoop if it rains? Many sailors ask this question, and the answer depends largely on what type of wind scoop you buy.

Standard wind scoops aren't rainproof at all. This is a problem in tropical climates, as it rains frequently, and excess moisture can easily cause mold in your cabin.

If rain is a frequent issue, consider a weatherproof wind scoop. Unlike traditional wind scoops, which are tall and thin, rain-resistant wind scoops are short, bullet-shaped, and elongated lengthwise to reduce the amount of rain that falls or blows into them. These models are also treated and waterproof, similar to a tent rainfly.

Traditional wind scoops move more air than most weatherproof models, which is why many sailors use them in tropical climates regardless. The best way to prevent rain-related problems is to be vigilant and simply close the forward hatch whenever it starts to get stormy outside.

Best Wind Scoops

There are dozens of wind scoops on the market today, including several made by the Windscoop brand. Here are the best sailboat wind scoops available today from several top marine brands.

1. Plastimo Ventilated Sail

Plastimo is a well-known manufacturer of marine ventilation equipment. If you have a newer sailboat, chances are you have a plastic ventilation cowl made by Kastimo. In addition to standard vents. Plastimo also offers a large wind scoop which they call a 'ventilated sail.'

The Plastimo wind scoop is omnidirectional, which makes it somewhat unique in the industry. That means that this wind scoop will efficiently funnel air down into the forward hatch regardless of what direction the wind is blowing.

Omnidirectional wind scoops are ideal for most situations, and they're particularly useful when you're docked at a stationary marina. The Plastimo wind scoop is shaped like a pyramid and held up by a line that usually runs up the mast. The eyelet at the top of the pyramid is ideal for attaching to a halyard, so this wind scoop is easy to deploy and requires no bulky poles or separate rigging.

The wind scoop itself is made from polyester, which is lightweight and durable. Polyester is also soft and flexible, which prevents annoying whistling and flapping sounds. The primary drawback of this design is that it isn't particularly water-resistant, and it will readily funnel rainwater down into the cabin if the hatch is left open during a rain squall.

In other weather conditions, the Plastimo wind scoop shines. Thanks to its durable stitching and halyard-hung design, it can stand up to strong wind gusts without tearing or coming off. It also fits most standard sailboat hatches.

2. ATN Dorcap Hatch Vent

Here's a unique all-weather wind scoop designed to hold up to rain, wind, and spray. The ATN Dorcap wind scoop is self-supported and fits most standard boat hatches.

The ATN Dorcap wind scoop is essentially a large stowable sea cowl designed to mount sturdily to the hatch of a sailboat. Unlike most wind scoops, this ATN model is stubby and low-profile. These design features make it resistant to water and wind gusts, as there's less of an opportunity for weather influx.

The scoop itself has rigid supports and doesn't need to be Leathered to a halyard to stay upright. It has adjustable airflow settings for maximum airflow and maximum rain protection. This air scoop features a 'dam' in the base of the inlet, which helps prevent water that runs along the deck from getting into your cabin.

Despite its small size and air dam, the ATN Dorcap wind scoop moves a remarkable amount of air through the cabin. It can be operated from inside the cabin as well, which means you won't have to scramble on deck during a rainstorm to close the hatch or disassemble the air scoop. This is ideal for anchoring in tropical and subtropical climates where heat and rain often accompany each other.

The primary disadvantage of the ATN Dorcap wind scoop is that it is not omnidirectional, and it can be tricky or impossible to reposition-,if the wind direction changes. However, at anchor, this is rarely a problem.

3. Breeze Booster Hatch Ventilator

The Breeze Booster Hatch Ventilator is the wind scoop equivalent of a supercharger, and it's well known for moving an enormous amount of air through sailboat cabins. This self-supported wind scoop is ideal for medium and large sailboats in areas where the wind is usually insufficient for other smaller wind scoops.

The Breeze Booster is a large cowl-shaped wind scoop. It is self-supported and does not require a halyard. This means that it's taut as useful on powerboats. This wind scoop is about as tall as it is wide, which allows it to efficiently harness slight winds and channel them throughout the cabin. The scoop itself is very easy to set up, and it can be oriented in any direction without much trouble. This makes it ideal for use at anchor or when docked in a marina.

Another advantage of the Breeze Booster wind scoop is that it allows sailors to adjust the hatch independently. This means that you can fine-tune the airflow from inside the boat or close the forward hatch completely in the event of a rainstorm. The scoop itself provides little protection from the elements, though it offers shade and doesn't impede the user from closing the hatch.

As far as its application is concerned, the Breeze Booster ventilated hatch is comparable to the Plastimo Ventilated Sail. It works well at anchor or in the marina, though it doesn't stand up to high winds as well as the Plastimo. That said, it's easier to set up at the expense of size.

It stows larger than the Plastimo, as it's self-supported and requires some rigid parts. The manufacturer states that, when stowed, this wind scoop takes up about the same amount of space as a traditional umbrella.

4. Breeze Booster Port Ventilator

Sometimes, a giant air scoop over the hatch isn't necessary, and an extra ventilation boost over a port will suffice. That's where the Breeze Booster Port Ventilator comes in. This smaller wind scoop is designed to mount over a traditional sailboat porthole or portlight, and it works well as an additional source of passive ventilation.

The primary advantage of the port ventilator is that it's mostly weather resistant due to its size and location on the side of the cabin. It can keep the air inside flowing even when you're not aboard, which allows you to lock up or button up your hatches. It also works well while you're on board and at anchor, as you can point it forwards towards the wind.

The Breeze Booster Port Ventilator is designed for use with inward-opening ports, which means you can adjust the airflow from the cabin or close it when it rains.

The Breeze Booster port vent air scoop is constructed of flag stock nylon, which is durable and lightweight. It also includes a screen, which is a necessity in areas with mosquitos and other insect pests. And like the standard large Breeze Booster, the port vent wind scoop is also self-supported with PVC framing.

This model is highly affordable and compact, making it a great option to start with if you're new to wind scoops.

5. Breeze Bandit Hatch Ventilator

Here's another durable wind scoop designed to stand up to gusts and windy weather. Like the Plastimo ventilated sail, the Breeze Bandit wind scoop is omnidirectional and capable of harnessing wind from all directions without adjustment.

The Breeze Bandit wind scoop is essentially four wind scoops sewn together back to back. It has four panels that harness wind from all directions simultaneously, and it channels the wind downard and into the hatch. It's tall, thin, and lightweight, making it ideal for use on sailboats.

Interestingly, the design of this four-paneled wind scoop is not new. It was rediscovered in a centuries-old British Navy manual, as similar canvas designs were once used to cool and ventilate tall ships. In other words, it's a proven and highly-effective design.

Unlike the originals, the Breeze Bandit is manufactured from durable and lightweight polyester. Like the Plastimo Ventilated Sail, polyester was chosen to provide longevity, tear-resistance, stretch-resistance, and to eliminate flapping and wind noise.

The sides of the Breeze Bandit are reinforced with 1" webbing, providing rigidity when deployed but allowing it to collapse and stow in a compact package. The webbing is also double-stitched, which provides much more durability than some competitors. The Breeze Bandit fits hatches up to 21 inches square.

It mounts at the base with stainless steel snaps, which are durable, unobtrusive, and easy to install. The Breeze Bandit rigs up with a halyard connected to an eyelet at the top, and it stands 6 feet tall when deployed.

The primary disadvantage of this design is that it's not rainproof, and you can't close the hatch while it's deployed. That said, it's easy to simply unbutton the base and close MOB the hatch in the event of foul weather.

6. Davis Instruments Windscoop

We can't forget to include name-brand wind scoops on our list. The Davis Instruments Windscoop is one of the most popular passive hatch ventilators on the market today, and it's the namesake of products in this category.

The original Windscoop rigs up like the Breeze Bandit and moves a large volume of air into the cabin. It must be pointed into the wind to work, but its tall and wide design makes it the most effective wind scoop on our list. It's also almost universally compatible with sailboat hatches and companionways. It fits any opening up to 4 feet wide, which makes it an option for sailboats such as the Catalina 30 that have unusually large and non-square forward hatches.

The original Windscoop is compatible with screens and mosquito nets, making it ideal for bug-filled areas. Installation is easy, as it doesn't require tie-downs. Simply feed it through the hatch and rig it up to a halyard.

The original Windscoop is affordable, and it makes a great addition to your standard cruising gear lineup for warm weather. Due to its quick and easy install, it's also great for clearing the cabin after cooking or working with fume-producing chemicals such as paint, varnish, stain, or epoxy.

Best Wind Scoops: How to Use Them Properly
Daniel Wade

Daniel Wade

I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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