Nautical Clothes!

What do you wear when you go sailing?

Thinking about nautical clothes I’m reminded of a male sailing friend, who as he tossed a line from the marina to a young girl in a brief mini skirt, standing on the deck of a yacht, he said …“I AM trying to look into your eyes! Truly I am!”

It was her 1st social sail organized by the local yacht club. A mini skirt was not the best choice of sailing clothes to wear, and it didn’t get any better when later she got sea sick and had to ‘throw up’ over the side … whoops there goes all dignity! 

“Who wears clothes offshore?” Some may say, but that’s choice and it does depend in which part of the world we sail, this dictates what sailing clothes we wear, or don’t wear.

My first real nautical clothes were a Musto wet weather jacket and overall pants given to me on my birthday, (that's me in the picture)when I took possession of my yachtI was ‘over the moon’ and slept in them that night, I loved them so much.

That was in New Zealand and what we wore sailing there is far different to what we wear here in the tropics of far north Queensland, Australia. 

Nautical Clothes for Colder Climates:

Sailing in mid week races in New Zealand’s winter was the first time I ever wore singlet's and long johns. On top of that we’d layer clothes, t-shirts and jumpers until we put our wet weather overall pants on then wet weather jacket, socks, boots, wooly beanie and gloves.

It wasn’t that cold all the time in Auckland, we would quite often sail in our swimming costumes in summer, but it always paid to take several layers of clothes and a jacket to protect you from the wind.

A trick I learned from a seasoned blue water sailor was when going on a passage which will take you through several climate changes ‘bag’ your clothes accordingly. So when I left New Zealand in pretty cold weather to cross the Tasman to Queensland, Australia, and a warm summer I took her advise.

Nautical Clothes for the Tropics:

Light clothes that give movement and are super comfortable, mostly shorts and t-shirts or cargo pants with a lot of handy pockets.

Swimming costumes, bikinis, and of course the sarong is one of the most versatile pieces of ‘clothing’ on board. It can be wrapped round the body in many different ways, used over swimming costumes, tied round the waist like a skirt. They are inexpensive, come in many different tropical prints and wash and dry quickly. 

And in honour of all who love pink ... Samantha Davis, Jessica Watson ... and an unknown brand new sailor Carol! 

Bag your clothes .... how does this work?

I had plastic garbage bags (medium size) and from my under wear to the top layer of clothing I would put them in a bag for one days wear. They would be organized for the climate from extreme cold to light summer wear.

Then the bags were sealed to prevent them getting damp and I marked them with a felt pen, ‘xxxx’ was extreme cold,’ xxx’ cold,’ xx’ bit of a chill, ‘x’ warm .

This worked great when we struck bad weather … no searching for clean undies, where did I put my jumper, or #### everything is wet!!!

As you’re being tossed around in a yacht riding stormy seas, just grab a bag that fitted the weather and ‘throw ’ the clothes on. And when they were wet and dirty back in the bag they went till you got to port or had a chance to wash them. 

Shoes are a definite part of nautical clothes on board? I’m a bare foot person but it’s a good idea to wear some to prevent stubbed toes, just make sure no heals or black soles that will leave hard to get out marks on deck. Check for chewing gum and dirt too!!

I have been asked by non sailors going out for the 1st time, “What do I take with me?” For me I put in a soft bag like a duffle bag or back pack an extra change of clothes as you can always get soaked, big waves, bad weather or as you jump or fall out a dinghy when pulling it onto a beach.

Nautical clothes for the tropics include a light jacket, a warm one in cooler climates or even our winter. I like a light long sleeve shirt to protect me from too much sun, and of course swim gear and sarong.

Sunscreen and a lip balm for lips and skin affected by the elements. Sun Visor or hat and sunglasses.

On a longer voyage most cruisers bring far too many sailing clothes ‘just in case,’ the trick is to get some good ‘mix and matches’ catering for on board, and ashore wear.

And if you want to get into some really ‘neat stuff’ look at Slam and Musto and some of the proven 'name brands' for a great range of casual sportswear.

Personal style does not have to suffer, so if you love the strappy sun dresses ... go for it!! Make them crease resistant, no iron fabrics.

Long time cruisers are generally not that concerned with nautical clothes, their ‘wardrobes’ are pretty basic unlike the more social cruisers.

“It is the preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us living freely and nobly.” Bertrand Russell




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