How to Dress for Sailing Regardless of the Weather
Weather can get pretty fickle when you’re out on the sea, and this makes packing for the trip quite a chore. Even if you book a boat in the peak of summer and every forecast points to stable weather, you won’t regret preparing for the unexpected. You can find a few guidelines here to help you get properly geared for sailing.
Tricky Summer Weather- Outsmart the Sun
Even though summer usually brings forth stable weather; the advice is to pack things that will enable you to adapt to anything nature may throw your way. In addition to your regular clothes, the following pieces are good to have at hand. A light colored, thin, comfortable long-sleeved shirt will protect you from the unavoidable sun on board. When you’re sailing, it is often impossible to escape the sun, as you’ll find there are a lot of things at sea that reflect the sunlight, including your own boat and a long sleeved light shirt is just the thing to protect you from possible sunburn. For the same reason, it is necessary to have a good pair of sunglasses and a hat (if possible with a strap to keep both safely on your head). It’s also not a bad idea to wear appropriate shoes, not only to protect your feet from the sun, but also from the hot surfaces on the boat. On the other spectrum, while you’re out in the open sea you may expect an occasional chilly breeze, especially at night, so packing something to warm up while lounging on the deck isn’t a bad idea either.
Braving the Chill On Board
Following the old Scandinavian saying: ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes’ we can agree that there is no reason for the cold to keep us away from our nautical passions. Packing for winter or autumn sailing however, does require a bit more effort than summer packing. In addition to putting emphasis on non-slip footwear, it is also very important to stay dry. Wet or damp clothes combined with cold, windy weather make a very inconvenient situation that can become a serious threat to your health. Thankfully, there is a wide assortment of good winter sailing equipment that includes waterproof sailing jackets, pants and gloves, quality sailing boots, and well designed head protection. If you’re sailing during a transitional period, it’s a good idea to dress in layers so you can quickly adjust to the shifting temperature and weather.
The Matter of Footwear
We’ve already mentioned the importance of having non-slip soles while sailing, for obvious reasons, but there are a few more things to take into account when choosing footwear for sailing. The first issue is well illustrated by the instruction issued by Captain Richard Brown to Prince Albert of England in 1851 when receiving him to his schooner America and that is: ‘I know who you are, but you’ll have to wipe your feet’. I’m pretty sure that any boat owner can share the Captain’s sentiment. Due to this reason, wearing heels as well as shoes with dark or colored soles on board is definitely frowned upon. Heels of any kind can damage the boat floor and the colored soles can leave unappealing stripes all over the deck.
Now, on another note, there is a healthy debate going on regarding the topic: ‘saying yes or no to shoes on board’. We’ve found that both sides have some valid things to say on that account. In support of barefoot sailing, people generally say that they prefer it because they feel more stable and unconstrained and that they have a better grip on the floor surface. However, on the other side of the conversation there is a significant amount of photographic evidence of broken and bruised toes. Since there are a lot of things on deck that you can bang your feet into, there is a risk of bruises or even worse, spilling blood! In conclusion we’d say that it depends on personal preference and foot agility, but if you choose to go barefoot, make sure to have a ready pair of sailing shoes at hand, just in case.
A Few More Tips
Whether you’re sailing during summer or winter, sunscreen is something you should definitely pack. We’re all well accustomed to the biting summer sun but particularly sunny winter days can also pack a punch, so it’s definitely good to have some sunscreen lying around. Always have a spare set of sailing clothes on board, since spending a day in damp clothes is far from comfortable and as we mentioned previously it can also be a significant health hazard. And finally if you plan to actively participate in sailing ‘keep it simple’ should be your motto. If you have long hair keep it tied up, keep your hands as free as possible and avoid dangling accessories and long flowing clothes. In short, there are a lot of ropes around, so avoid anything that can get tangled up.
Apply these general guidelines to the way you usually dress and you’re set for an enjoyable and active sailing trip. This way you’ll be better prepared and you’re sure to have a less grumpy skipper, happy crew and most importantly a clean and beautiful boat. As always, we wish you a safe and exciting sailing experience!