Cold Weather Sailing



It’s winter in the Southern Hemisphere so there is no better time than now to talk about cold weather sailing. For our friends in the Northern Hemisphere, even though I am jealous of your current temperatures, you too will again get to “enjoy” colder weather sailing in the future. What to wear in cold weather sailing.

I recently read an excellent article written by Quantum Sails and have copied below a couple of really interesting facts and tricks. Some are obvious and some are not so obvious but all are worth noting.

Keep Dry by Having Reliable Outer Gear – Dry = Warm

What to wear in cold weather sailing.

There is a lot of great gear available at a wide range of prices and styles. These include spray-tops, offshore jackets, waterproof bibs, dry-suits for dinghy sailing, and gear designed specifically for women.

Invest in outerwear that will not only keep you warm and dry but will last for more than one sailing season. Talk to sailors in your area to see what they recommend. Depending on where you are on the continent there will be different conditions to contend with.

Discounted Book for Aussie Sailors

Base and Mid Layers

If you don’t have the right layers to keep you warm, you will also be miserable. Have merino wool or synthetic blend base layers, wool socks, insulating mid-layers, mittens, and maybe even a heavy layer.

A good wool sweater is warm – wet or dry – and cozier than a synthetic top. Because of the nature of wool, it has greater bulk and can retain more heat. It’s also moisture-wicking and can absorb a third of its weight before it feels wet.

Avoid cotton against the skin. Cotton is not moisture-wicking, so as you begin to sweat, you want to keep that moisture away from your skin.

Vests keep your core temps up and help your extremities stay warm. They’re a lightweight and incredibly packable option for a very warm mid-layer. They are also easily removed if you start to get hot.

Toe and Hand Warmers

Disposable hand warmers are available at your local hardware or sporting goods stores. Toe warmers have a sticky back so you can stick them in other areas like your neck or chest. A word of caution though stick them to your clothes, not bare skin.

For your hands, use commercial-grade insulated rubber gloves, 3mm neoprene dive gloves or leather utility gloves from the hardware store.

Neck and Face Guard

Neck gaiters such as the ones used in summer to protect from the sun are very effective. Another effective trick is to use a synthetic towel or chamois cloth like a scarf. When it gets wet, simply wring it out and tuck it back in.

Eye Protection

Cold air and wind make your eyes water. Sunglasses aren’t always enough and can sometimes be too dark on a bleak day. Ski goggles can work really well and the right coloured/polarised lenses can help you to see the wind on the water.

If coloured lenses are a hindrance, clear lenses are great for stopping your eyes from watering at night.

Avoid Large Meals.

Eat a lot of little snacks. A big meal takes more energy to digest, and this will make you colder. Keep your energy levels high with small snacks that are high in protein and are digested more slowly.

Discounted Book for Aussie Sailors

Sleep In Your Gear

The best way to get rid of the moisture is to leave your clothes on when you sleep. Remember, your body runs at 98 degrees – that is a great drying agent.

Remove your boots though and put on a pair of dry, warm socks when you go to sleep to help retain body heat.

Empty Your Bladder

Your body uses energy to keep the liquid in your bladder warm. Go when you have the urge, and it will help you stay warm.

Drink Warm Liquids To Stay Hydrated

Even if you’re not a coffee drinker, there are plenty of other options that are easy to make on the water. Grab a thermos and fill it with a hot beverage of your choice.

Stay Active

Whether you are cruising or racing, if you stay involved in the sailing and/or racing of the boat, it will help keep you warm. . Help your body stay warm by keeping your blood flowing.

Most times you get cold when you’re sitting around and not exerting any energy.

Cold Weather Sailing can be fun and really challenging but to thoroughly enjoy it you must stay warm and dry.

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