Winter Sailing Tips
Winter Sailing Tips
With the beginning of frostbiting season upon us it is important to remember to stay safe and have fun while on the water. Frostbiting is an extreme winter sailing experience: high winds, cold water, hey - maybe even some snow is on the menu. These elements can all add up to great days on the water but caution must be taken because there are real dangers of getting frostbite and hypothermia.
For winter and early spring sailing a drysuit is a must. Any time water temperature is below 60 degrees, long exposure can be fatal. A drysuit is designed to prevent water from entering and touching your body, with tight gaskets around the wrists and neck as well as built in booties for the feet. This allows sailors to wear warmer, heat insulating clothes underneath without the risk of getting them wet. To maximize the longevity and effectiveness of drysuits it is essential that dinghy boots be worn over the built-in rubber booties.
So, now that you have your drysuit, what are you going to wear underneath it? The short answer is, layers. It is important to be able to take layers on or off quickly to be comfortable. Always start with a polyester base layer which wicks sweat away and dries quickly. Make sure to avoid cotton which absorbs moisture and stays wet. After you are set with a proper base layers you then add warmer layers as needed. It is important to keep your hands warm - exposed hands will lose dexterity, and even worse, are at risk of frostbite- neoprene winter gloves are the perfect combination of practicality and functionality. The neoprene insulates your hands, keeping them warm and also allows your hands to move freely, maintaining the feel of the tiller and lines.
Hats are important when sailing in cold weather. Although you don’t ‘lose 60% of your body heat through your head’ like the old wives tale suggests; your head is important to keep warm, allowing your body to function better in an extreme environment.
If the weather is too warm for a drysuit but too cold for board shorts, a wetsuit or neoprene outer layer is the way to go. Typically, wetsuits are used when the water temp is between 60 and 70 degrees and works by keeping a layer of water between your body and the suit that gets warmed by body heat - highly effective! A wet suit fits snug to your body which is ideal for dingy sailors where loose clothing could get in the way while you’re trying to do your thing. There is a large selection of wetsuits that are sailing specific.