1 First time afloat?
3 Motor Boating
4 Yacht sailing
5 Tall ships and traditional vessels
6 Whats the choice
First time afloat?
For your first trip aloat the first thing to say is don’t commit yourself to a long voyage or place and time that is going to be rough, wet or unpleasant.
Bearing that in mind there should be no need to buy special sailing kit. You do need something that is like a lightweight walking rainproof trousers and jacket with a hood. (Hoods are essential.)
Footwear is mentioned in each section below.
Nearly all brands offer breathable waterproofs though you can still get plain cotton kit coated in PVC to make it waterproof, it is durable and inexpensive but not the most comfortable kit in the world.
Breathable kit has one big drawback, the salt in seawater will clog the breathability, how quickly depends on how much exposure to salt water it gets. The solution is to wash in fresh water after every use which will prolong its effective life or follow the manufacturer’s advice for washing and re-waterproofing.
The smaller the boat the less likely you are to be going out far from land or for a long period.
If it’s an open boat you definitely need waterproofs but either hiking quality or lowest of the purpose made wet weather gear will be fine. Any shoe but you may also need any sort of wellington.
The bigger the motor boat / yacht the posher it is likely to be and you may feel out of place if you don’t appear to be on trend! Deck shoes are essential. You probably need an inshore quality wet weather gear for coming alongside or anchoring. Rough weather motorboating, you will be inside, it may be inside the cabin or it may be inside a marina!
Similar to motor boating the suitable range of kit gets more expensive the bigger the yacht. Deck shoes and wellies which need to be either yellow or leather.
Yacht cruising, this really depends on the climate, warm and hot weather an inshore style kit should be fine.
Inshore yacht racing, you are probably looking at mid range with good flexibility for moving around the yacht quickly but also with excellent wet weather protection. Reinforcements for kneeling and sitting on the deck are helpful.
Ocean yacht racing, you will need the best wet weather range you can afford, or you could look at a drysuit for total protection. You could lower this quality if you are only sailing in warm climates.
Tall Ship and traditional vessels.
The kit needs to fit the purpose, so practicality is more important than fashion.
After you know you enjoy sailing the kit is relatively simple.
If you set your sights on doing some longer voyages where it is likely that you could get wet from rain or the sea state you will find a mid range of wet weather gear suitable.
You want a generous fit as this will allow you to add multiple layers underneath for very cold conditions but not restrict your movement when active on board or hiking ashore.
Whats the choice
Whatever you choose it must have an effective hood, look for ones with stiff visors to keep the wet and wind out of your eyes.
The worst case scenario is if you fall into the water. It is very easy to lose sight of someone in the water so high visibility colours are a good idea. (Black and dark blue without yellow stripes are going to be hard to see.)
There are many well known brands, Musto, Gill. GOTOP, Gul. Helly Hansen, Henri Lloyd, Windward to mention a few.
Lets hope you never need it but in all conditions you should be able to fit a life jacket over your jacket. (People have been seen with inflatable life jackets under waterproofs which is not a good idea.)
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