Choosing the right clothing makes a significant difference, not only to your enjoyment afloat but also to your safety. It is colder on (and in) the water than on land so, even on the sunniest days, always ensure you have spare warm clothing readily available.
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The outer layer should preferably be dedicated marine gear for foul weather use. The jacket should have a high collar, hood and storm cuffs, which will provide a barrier against rain, spray and wind. Breathable fabrics that transmit sweat to the outside provide the best performance. Bright colours and retro-reflective strips are strongly recommended. Some jackets have a built-in lifejacket and harness.
The outer layer should preferably be dedicated marine gear for foul weather use. Trousers should be chest high. Breathable fabrics that transmit sweat to the outside provide the best performance. Bright colours and retro-reflective strips are strongly recommended. Make sure that linings drain.
Deck shoes come in a variety of types ranging from the low cost canvas to the more expensive breathable materials. Always look for a good grip sole.
Yachting boots will provide the necessary warmth and protection in poor conditions or an emergency. They must have effective non-slip soles and should be easy to pull on and off in case you enter the water.
Mid layers should be fleece and fibre pile garments, which trap warm air and provide quick drying comfort. Fibre pile has the advantage that you can part dry it better than cotton garments.
Thermal headgear can play a major role in helping to conserve body heat; up to 60% of heat loss is from the head. Headgear is important in warmer weather as well: a cap or wide brimmed hat will shade your face from the sun.
Marine gloves help protect the hands from abrasive modern ropes and any possible injuries. They will also keep out the cold.
A scarf is a useful piece of clothing to help protect you from the wind chill and also help prevent excess water running down the back of your neck. A fleece scarf may be easier to dry.
The survival suit is recommended where you may be going out for long periods of time and where there is a higher risk to personal safety. They are easy to fit and give a high degree of manoeuvrability in and out of the water. They have heavy duty soles to protect the feet and built-in gloves. They should always be worn with an appropriate lifejacket to aid performance.
If you are caught out at sea at night or have to abandon your craft into a dinghy or a liferaft, take extra clothing to help keep you warm. Try to insulate yourself from the water. Take cushions or fenders with you into the liferaft or inflatable dinghy so that you can sit on them rather than the fabric bottom. If you should fall into the sea, waterproof clothing will help to trap water around your body and reduce the effects of cold water shock. A naked human body loses body heat 26 times faster in water than in air.
Wring out wet clothing and put it back on if dry clothing is not available. Don a thermal protective aid to reduce heat loss from evaporation.
Clothing systems usually consist of three layers; an inner layer that wicks perspiration and water away from the surface of the skin, a middle insulating layer to help keep you warm and a top waterproof but breathable outer layer to let the moisture inside escape and prevent water from outside getting in.
Wear a hat or hood (even in the water). It is estimated that 60% of your body heat is lost from your head; more when it is wet.
Wear shoes not only to provide a good grip on slippery decks but also to prevent stubbing your toes on hard deck fittings or possibly cutting your feet when launching and recovering your boat or PWC.
In sunny weather, use high-factor sun cream and wear a suitable sun hat, as the sea tends to increase the effect of ultra-violet light.
Specialist sports require specialist clothing. Dinghy sailors, PWC riders and divers will be warmer and better protected in either a wetsuit or drysuit. If wearing a drysuit, make sure you have a sufficiently warm fleece beneath the suit.
Sea anglers should not wear chest high or thigh waders while on a boat as they pose a serious risk to drowning should you fall overboard.
Finally, all water users, including divers en route to a dive site, should wear a lifejacket or buoyancy aid since you can end up in the water when you least expect it.