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Boating clothes are not a matter of style, nor of brands (not always, at least), nor trends. Dressing to face sea, sun and wind (and on-board manoeuvres) is a matter of safety that some people do not know and many forget.

First, wearing the right clothes means not having sunstroke and cold problems and maybe it also means not to break a foot against a stopper. Therefore, it means not causing any problems for the commander or the rest of the crew.

Wearing baseball caps or sunglasses, better with polarized lenses, means seeing better, with all the consequences of the case. And so on and so forth. In short, getting in the boat and drop the moorings also means doing it with the right clothing, in any season.

Therefore, let’s start with what is indispensable during summer, starting from shoes. Perhaps the most neglected accessory (often at great cost) during the hottest months: raise your hand who has never made a smooth crossing leaving below deck some shoes, preferring, instead, to walk barefoot on deck.

Many do it, of course, and usually nothing happens; but the day you will find yourself stumbling badly, you will curse in one blow all the times you wanted to be comfortable in the cockpit as if it was a beach.

Big mistake, shoes with suitable non-slip sole are indispensable if you want to avoid even serious accidents, on the market there are a thousand types (from the perforated models for the great heat to the leather ones for the winter) and good for all pockets. However, do not forget them because finding yourself having to maneuver barefoot, for any reason, up and down the bridge and maybe in the dark is not the best from the point of view of safety.

Along with shoes, boats should not be missing. It may happen, in fact, that you have to sail under the rain, maybe for many hours, maybe even at dusk, and in that case the heat could leave room for a sharp drop in temperatures. With the passing of time, it could become an annoying cold, which would affect very much the on board life.

So keep a pair in a locker, it is up to you choosing a cheap model in simple rubber, or a pair in goretex or skin: know that purchases like this always represent money well spent.

Still speaking of protection, the most traditional garment for those who go to sea, namely the oilskin, cannot miss. Here the choice is endless, in terms of both models and prices.

For those who go on summer cruises, you surely do not need a top-of-the-range garment suitable for ocean navigation. You should still carefully evaluate the quality of the product though, since usually higher quality corresponds to longer life and therefore lower cost in years to come.

You must buy the oilskin at least one size bigger if you want to use it even in the winter months with sweatshirts or sweaters. The more pockets it has the better, if properly protected. Look for a hooded model to avoid having to fix it with some waterproof cap that only risks being in your way during navigation.

Only wash it with water. Many directly use the pump jet on quay after docking to simply rinse the salt. Do not use detergents or similar for they could damage it, and let it perfectly dry before storing it, otherwise mould will form.

Once you are equipped with oilskin and boots/shoes, it is time to move to basic clothing. In summer months, to avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight, it would be better to sail with knee pants if not even long; a polo shirt (more robust than normal t-shirts); and then wear with the rising wind a k-way or similar. Now there are countless light technical garments, very suitable for situations like this.

The new synthetic fibre are also very good to use instead of cotton t-shirts, since they are good for skin and especially, once washed they dry in no time. Avoid sweatshirts, especially if they fit wide, because there is always the risk – not so remote – to “engage” somewhere during a manoeuvre, witch unpleasant consequences.

The wind can be can be pleasant to counteract the summer heat, but in the long run it could become annoying and so it is advisable to protect the neck too. For eventual night transfers, among the favourite clothes there are fleece (including covers for heating in the cockpit): light, very warm, like all synthetic fibres dry in a moment.

Always keep one at hand. During summer months, you usually do not need to pay particular attention to nights, while during winter months it is an obligation: thermal underwear (and tights) represents a formidable shield to the cold. Remember that, even in August, the oilskin is not only useful in case of rain, but it is indispensable to keep away the worst enemy of physical well-being, humidity.

Last but not least, hands. A pair of gloves (half-finger or full) will avoid possible burns on sheets or halyards. Do not forget to keep on board a normal pair of work gloves too, of those found in any hardware store, because they are better suited to handling traps than sailing gloves, and more delicate. Traps can also be tricky for hands, because they can hide sharp “dog teeth”.

Stefano Sergi
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