Foul Weather Gear Essentials
So, you don’t want to be just a sunny day sailor? Well, if you’re really into boating why would you be? In our area of the Mid-Atlantic only slightly less then half our days are sunny anyway so be prepared for some rainy days when you can fish or cruise on an empty bay or open water. If it’s not near gale winds or major storm warnings you’ll be fine, that is if you’re dressed for the weather.
During a summer shower you have more latitude to what you can wear but remember, even a warm sticky day can turn chilly during and after a thunderstorm. A light, hooded, zipper jacket that is breathable, yet waterproof is the perfect answer. If it’s a bit chilly put a light sweatshirt underneath. You can go with resistant fishing or sport shorts and dockers are the perfect footwear. Many of these wearables are offered by Calebra’s, West Marine, Dicks Sporting Goods, Field and Stream Etc.
For harsher weather in summer, you are going to need a full set of lightweight rain gear that includes hood, jacket, matching waterproof coveralls socks and fishermen’s boots. It is very important to get the correct style and size boot. I’ll explain. These boots are white and end only about 5” above your ankle bone. Make sure you buy them LOOSE!
This is very important. Should you go overboard with the taller mid-calf or higher boots and they are fitted exactly to your size, you risk drowning. The bigger boots will fill with sea water and you won’t be able to easily kick them off. They’ll drag you down, especially if you were stupid enough not to be wearing a life preserver. Under your hood, you should also have a visored hat to keep the rain out of your eyes.
Now early spring, autumn and winter drag you into different clothing situations entirely. Yes, we get some nice days on the outside but most of the time you are cold and damp. This calls for extra measures such as a heavy duty Grundens, Helly Hanson and Guy Cotton are well known brands you can investigate. It’s all your choice. We receive nothing from them. The trick with dressing for this type of weather is what you wear underneath. I always recommend a very good Irish wool sweater. Don’t skimp here. They keep you toasty warm and keep you that way even if the sweater gets a little wet which is rare due to the fact that wool has natural water resistant lanolin.
Underneath your waterproof bib pants, jeans would work and you can add insulated long johns, if you wish. Suspenders are always helpful. Two pairs of big wool socks will keep your feet functionally warm, but again, remember that your feet should still be rather loose so boots can be kicked off. For my hands I depend on my Aran Islander Irish wool gloves. These are the ones that leave the ends of your fingers outside. I’ve never had a problem as my hands stay warm and pump warm blood into my fingers. So, no frostbite yet! Top all this off with a close knit wool sailors cap, raise your hood if necessary, and you’ll stay warm.
Just a reminder, always wear a substantial professional life jacket over your get up. It will keep you warmer still. Should anything happen, it’s what saves your life. You want one with a high collar in cold weather. There are other set-ups which I will go over at a separate time covering survival suits, heat blankets, EPIRB, etc.
See you on the water! Stay safe!