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Dressing for Colder Weather Boating

A Message from Fleet Surgeon: Caroline Kornutik



Man sailing in cold weather clothing.
Our member, Rich Christie, bundled up for the elements on the water.

It's that time of year, cold one day, warm the next. How to properly plan to dress to make the best of boating and most of all be comfortable is the question?

I’m Irish and where I come from people say there is no bad weather just bad clothing choices.


Yesterday, we had a lovely time on LYC end of season harbor cruise. This saying came to mind when I totally wore the incorrect clothing. Thankfully our wonderful hosts gave me a blanket and saved the day for me. Note to self, leggings, a fashion sweater and summer weight raincoat don't count!!

Weather on the dock and the conditions in the harbor can be very different, especially when we changed direction and were heading upwind yesterday.

The correct gear is dependent on many factors, how cold it is and is there potential to get wet.


This article won't cover all these eventualities and is focused on heading out for a pleasure cruise (power or sail)


Basic points to keep in mind include start with a good base layer made of natural or synthetic fiber that wicks moisture away (not cotton). Mid layers can range in thickness according to the weather and should again be made of wicking natural or synthetic fibers such as wool or fleece.

Four people sailing on blue sailboat in cold weather.
"Frostbite" sailing requires proper gear to ensure a fun time.

Jeans are cotton and like all cotton will lose all insulating properties once wet. Bring a pair of foul weather pants to put on if you are in danger of getting sprayed. Wear a good water proof jacket. Bring gloves and a hat to allow you to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible.


There will be many great days left in the season. For those lucky enough to be able to enjoy wonderful winter days on the water, keep these tips in mind as they will make the difference between having fun and being potentially miserable.



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