Wet Weather Gear

Wet weather clothing, for whatever purpose, is designed to keep water out, but the right kind of gear for one particular purpose may be quite unsuitable for another.

Anything truly waterproof is likely to get you wet from the inside, as perspiration condenses, and anything too porous will let wind and water in as well as allowing the skin to breath.

And whether it is rain, or whole wave-fulls of sea breaking across the deck, it is important to stay dry and comfortable.

Wet weather gear for the walker is one thing, and for the motorcyclist another, but for sheer perversity, the conditions on board an ocean-going sailing boat are going to be the most challenging. Wind-driven, salt, in large chunks, and coming at you from all directions, not just down from the clouds, your yachting gear has to cope with a lot.

Gore Tex fabrics provide a means by which external water can be repelled, internal water vapour can be dispelled and wind penetration blocked. The trick is in the relative sizes of the pores in the laminate of fabrics Gore Tex uses. The inner lining and membrane has to permit water vapour to pass - and it does - the pores being 700 times larger than a water molecule. The outer fabric has to deal with water in liquid form - and the outer pores are 20,000 times smaller than a drop of water.

Result: no matter how wet the outside is, the inside stays dry.

Manfacturers of yachting clothing take into account the different demands of the different kinds of sailing, the different climates people sail in, and the different amounts of time spent in protective gear.

First and foremost to consider is the concept of layering. It is important to have some kind of wicking layer next to the skin, to absorb and move away moisture from the skin surface while trapping warm air next to the skin.

Then a synthetic non-absorbent layer that dries quickly. Its function is to move moisture to the outer layer.
The outer layer is intended to keep the wind and water and sun out. Low thermal properties, but a breathable fabric that is entirely water proof and wind proof.

Some gear is lightweight, and meant to protect small boat sailors who need to be agile, yet who sail just inches from the surface of the water. A wet-suit might be the best answer here. Some gear is heavyweight and suitable for long-term wear in artic conditions and heavy seas. And some more for every condition in between. The needs to be mobile and fashionable are not forgotten.

Nor is the need to dispense with clothing altogether, if conditions permit. Famous yachtswoman Samantha Davies bares all. Common sense will prevent trouble with outraged spectators, but provided your sunscreen is good enough, sometimes a swimming costume is all you need.

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Gill Wet Weather Gear for all kinds of boating weather and conditions. Ocean, Offshore, Inshore and Coastal areas all have their extreme and demands. Read More...

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