Monday, July 06, 2009

Boil-in-the-bag - the pros and cons of wetsuits in summer

Over the last few weeks here in the UK we have had the most excellent of weather, plenty of sunshine and a range of sail-able wind strengths. But what to wear in such conditions?

Some go for the shorts and tee shirts - nice and cool but if the wind gets up or there is a sudden rain shower (with squall) then it can become quite chilly with the windchill factor and although not a problem on the smaller inland waterways it can be decidedly dodgy when sailing on the sea as even in the heat of summer the sea temperature close to shore can be quite cold.

One could use a spray top giving protection against windchill but it doesn't help if you end up spending any time in the sea - clearly some form of wetsuit is needed.

So what about the shorty wetsuit? No hitching up of the shorts mid tack, no problems with changeable conditions plus padding against the inevitable bumps you get when sailing - it looks like the best option. But for one thing - the gradual boiling of the body in the hot sun (yes -even in the UK) amplified by the excellent thermal insulation properties of the rubber whose black surface absorbs copious joules of thermal energy. When you finally prize your body out of its clinging grip the sweet fragrance of ones own sweat is released into the cramped atmosphere of the changing rooms adding to the collective concoction of sweat from several sailors making the air almost unbreathable! Added to that is that some of us don't look that hot in rubber !

Whilst others look soooo good they raise our temperatures just looking at them!!!
A capsize seemes a beautiful idea as a welcome relief from the heat! But instead I would wait until I had the boat ashore and then join the group of floating 'boiled in the bag' dinghy sailors wallowing comically like a bunch of seals or walruses in the cool shallows sharing a few moments of heat relief and postmortems on the days sailing before heading for the changing rooms and then the bar.

There is another option, which seems a reasonable idea but requires a further outlay on the sailing gear front! - hiking pants! They come in the form of a half wetsuit providing some protection in the lower half of the body but the upper torso has minimal coverage and with the addition of a spray top adequate protection against the elements can be achived but without boiling the body. Plus you get that extra bonus of being able to hike harder for longer! It might worth the expense.

So do I continue to save up for a new jib or lash out on a pair of hikers? Or both and risk sudden death from the wife? Hey this is the UK so summer will be over in about a week or so - a new jib it is!!!

1 comment:

Tillerman said...

I think that's the funniest thing you've ever written. Looking forward to reading more from you in this style.