Any time you’re sailing a dinghy in summertime conditions expect to get wet. You have more fun when you aren’t too concerned about staying dry. This article contains some important clothing tips for dinghy sailing, and many also apply for keelboat sailing on windy, wet days:
Bring a towel and a change of clothes and leave them on shore. Nothing’s worse than having to drive home in wet, salty clothes.
Consider leaving the gear bag on shore. You probably have only enough room on board a dinghy for a bottle of water, a tube of sunscreen, and a jacket (which may get soaking wet, too).
Leave your cellphone, car keys, and wallet in a safe place on shore, too. (Don’t ask Peter how many cellphones he’s killed in the water.)
Wear a bathing suit underneath your clothes. That is, unless your hobby is being a finalist in wet T-shirt contests.
Choose wool or modern fabrics instead of cotton. Cotton is great for keeping you cool on hot days, but it doesn’t retain heat when it’s soaking wet. Wool does a much better job of retaining heat while wet, but modern polyester fleece materials are the best underlayers when conditions are really wet and chilly, because they wick water away from the innermost layer so that your skin stays drier.
Wear the appropriate shoes. Because you’re always sitting down on a dinghy, the nonskid tread on your shoes is less important than on a keelboat. Wet suit booties may be the most comfortable.
Reapply sunscreen often if you’re getting wet. Even supposedly “waterproof” sunscreens need to be reapplied. While sailing, you can easily get sunburned because of the double-whammy of the sun’s reflected rays off the water.
Don’t forget to wear a life jacket! See “Staying Safe with Life Jackets,” earlier in this chapter, on why wearing a life jacket is so important.
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