Coastal sailing presents a unique set of conditions. Here you will learn about what coastal sailing foul weather gear is designed for in terms of the type of sailing and the type of weather conditions it will withstand.
Coastal Sailing Weather Conditions:
Generally speaking, coastal sailing foul weather gear is designed to be worn for days at a time while providing you protection and comfort. It is ideal for short to medium distance passage making, and overnight distance racing and cruising. Not as heavy duty as offshore or ocean gear, coastal gear can often be worn comfortably while sailing in inshore conditions as well.
- Rain: light to medium, with occasional heavy down pours
- Seas: Light to medium, with occasional heavy seas
- Wind: light to moderate, with occasional strong winds
- Duration: Up to a few days of continuous wear.
Features of Coastal Foul Weather Gear:
The two pieces of foul weather gear you will want to invest in are a jacket and a pair of bibs or trousers. These items should be fully waterproof and breathable. In sailing, your comfort depends on your gear’s ability to keep you dry by keeping water out, and transporting moisture (sweat) out. Typically coastal gear is designed from a two layer laminate, waterproof, breathable, that’s the most dominant. The other material, a microporous three-layer, like a GORE-TEX product, is more durable and breathable, but at a higher cost.
There are key features you will want to look for in your gear.
- Hoods: Adjustable fluorescent colored hoods with reflective tapes. The more adjustments on the hood the better.
- Collars: Medium height collars (typically reach ears or slightly higher) with Velcro adjustable front storm flaps.
- Cut/Fit: Extra room in the cut to allow for ease of movement and for varied thicknesses of layers worn underneath for warmth.
- Fabrics: Fully waterproof and breathable. Either 2 layer coated, or 3 layer laminated.
- Closures: Double storm wrist cuffs, 2 way entry zipper with Velcro storm flap
- Trousers: Mid to High cut chest, ankle closures, reinforced seat and knees
How to Choose
In choosing a coastal jacket and trousers, it’s first important to know what the majority of your sailing is so that you can make a choice between features and fabric. The scenarios are: A. Someone who’s doing coastal sailing but also doing some offshore sailing with a little bit of short to medium passage-making. or B. Someone who gets a coastal jacket but also does a lot of inshore, isn’t really doing offshore, therefore doesn’t need as much protection. Styles within the coastal sailing foul weather gear category will lend themselves to either of these needs.
Coastal sailors who do more on the offshore or distance side of things will want more durable materials, a more adjustable hood or higher collar, and perhaps hand-warmer pockets.
Those sailing mostly coastal, inshore and short distances might prefer jackets with less structure to the hood, a shorter collar and slightly less bulk from pockets, as too much protection can be uncomfortable.
Base and Mid Layers:
With proper layering under your foul weather gear you will be comfortable through a few days of sailing in less than ideal weather. Wicking under layers will be your everyday attire in bad weather. Use base and mid layers to maintain a comfortable body temperature by adding or removing layers. The key to long duration comfort will be your under layer’s ability to transport (wick) moisture (sweat) from the surface of your skin to your foul weather gear where it can be move out through the waterproof/breathable fabric.
Avoid wearing any cotton clothes; they hold moisture like a sponge and chill you. Even unworn cotton clothes can become ‘damp’ when exposed to sea air.
Gloves & Boots for Coastal Sailing:
Be sure to match your gloves and boots to the type of coastal sailing you may be doing. For shorter periods of sailing, non breathable boots may suffice. For longer passages breathable boots will do a much better job keeping your feet dry and warm. No cotton socks. Merino wool ensures sustained warmth and moisture-wicking. Pack two pairs. If wearing insulated gloves, one pair for shorter trips is okay, but having a second pair to alternate between will give gloves more time to dry out between watches. Cold hands are weak hands.