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Personal Gear & Apparel

Protecting the Sailors Pumpkin

Head protection has become a hot topic among sailors. Volvo Ocean Race helmsman wear surf helmets with retractable visors. Americas Cup crew wears them, along with body armor and breathing equipment. Amateurs in high performance beach catamaran and dinghy classes are adopting them in big numbers, and some youth, college, and Olympic sailing programs have made them mandatory, like PFDs. Even cruisers are beginning to wonder about trips up the mast, heavy weather sailing, and even routine bumps. Is it the new thing, or just transition period until we work out where they make sense?

Form Wont Matter if it Doesnt Fit

Even the best helmet will fail if poorly fitted. Expect this to take some time. Measure your head and get the right size. Loose is no good, and too small will sit high or give you a headache.

Luck and the Urge to Duck

At night, when only the counted seconds between the lightning flash and thunder-crack offer any clue of what is to come, the intertropical convergence zone seems otherworldly.

The Sailors Boot Dryer

I like the outdoors. I sail year-round, and I can endure as much heat and cold as my passions demand. But whether it is summer or winter, I just cant abide cold, wet feet. There is something about damp socks that chills me through. If my feet are warm, Im warm.

Sailing Socks

We can endure a great deal in the name of good sailing, but cold, wet feet chill us through, and wed rather not resort to heavy sea boots. Regardless of the weather, even in winter, we prefer deck shoes if possible.

Mailport: Cold Weather Suits

Regarding your recent Inside Practical Sailor blog post Drysuits vs. Survival Suits, I raft the Colorado river in Grand Canyon where water temps are around 50 F, even in the summer. The whitewater down there is furious and sometimes dangerous. I wear a 3 millimeter neoprene wetsuit under a full drysuit. If the drysuit rips, the wetsuit should slow down thermal loss. The problem is heat buildup in the sun. The solution is to jump in the cold water now and then to keep from over heating. On a sailboat that would be harder to do. There have been a few times sailing solo when I wore both garments, but it was pretty clammy inside. There is no perfect solution, just reasonable compromises by which to stay alive. Something to remember is that once a drysuit rips, it will take on hundreds of pounds of water. A high flotation PFD is mandatory, at least 26 pounds I would think.

Sailing Clothes for Cold Weather

Whether you want to cruise the higher latitudes or extend your sailing season this winter, youll need to think about clothing. Over the years, Practical Sailor has published a number of tests and reports on garments that we can count on to keep us warm when the wind chill dips toward freezing. In this report, well take a broader look at the essentials, focusing on the first principles; under layers, accessories, how to wear them, and what materials stay dry.

Tips to Protect Cold-weather Sailing Gear

Weve ruined as much gear through improper and inadequate care as we have through use. Proper care isnt about appearance, its about function.

The Get-Home Sailboat Tool Kit

The tools and materials required to maintain and repair everything on a boat will barely fit in a room. Just the kit required to maintain vital systems will raise the waterline of a large boat and is impractical in a smaller boat. Fortunately, when day sailing and even cruising locally, all we really need to do is get back to the dock...any dock.

Knee Pads and Braces for Sailors

Battered sailors make good test subjects, especially when we are talking about gear to preserve our joints and appendages. That is why we sent technical editor Drew Frye and his surgically repaired knee out into the world of orthopedic accessories for sailors.
j/24 and Olympic Circle Sailing Club

Keep Calm and Carry On Cursing

I know plenty of sailors who wouldnt hesitate to curse a J24. I should mention that these are mostly racing sailors, and they do a lot of cursing.