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Old 05-12-2007, 21:51   #1
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Cold weather gear

If all goes well on my survey this Friday, I will be making the 1200 mile trip from San Diego to Astoria, Oregon during January (in at least two legs, looking for weather windows, and with a pro delivery captain and crew). I have no off shore experience in the Pacific coast winter. I am hoping folks out there can make clothing suggestions for me. Oh, one other important fact, the boat is unheated, but the helm is completely enclosed in a dodger like enclosure.

The delivery skipper suggested silk long underwear as the first layer, followed by synthetic long underwear, a couple of layers of normal clothing, and then good weather gear">foul weather gear. He suggested really good insulated boots, socks that wick moisture, and really good gloves.

It is the boots, socks and gloves that are puzzling me, and I can't reach him to ask at the moment.

For the boots, where should I buy them - what type of store sells what I need? If I buy 5mm Neoprene insulated boots, am I buying the right thing?

For the socks - what kind of socks wick moisture?

For the gloves - again, where do I get them, and what should I look for to get the right thing?

I have read repeatedly that gloves, boots and a couple of good watch caps are the most important thing for comfort in a trip like this. But I can't find much specific advice.

I hope you can help. And I would be interested in ANY advice you can offer on the entire subject of cold weather clothing for the trip.

Thanks,

Kevin
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Old 05-12-2007, 22:20   #2
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You got it right, layer and don't wear stuff that holds water..like cotton. Just having a place to get out of the wind and the spray is a big help right there. Don't forget the safety harness.
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Old 05-12-2007, 22:24   #3
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Other than a good set of foulies, any clothing designed to protect you from the cold can be found in a good wilderness outfitter's store. A-16 or REI come to mind.

If you have a professional captain and delivery crew, it appears to me that your main job is to stay out of the way.

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Old 05-12-2007, 22:37   #4
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On the "stay out of the way", that is sortof true, but the "crew" is just one other person, so I will be standing watches as well. But still, in the end, yes, I need to stay out of the way...

So, about "not cotton", does that mean not jeans for pants? What material should I be wearing? Heck, I have lived in jeans and T-shirts for so long, I am not sure I know what something else looks like...

Kevin
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Old 05-12-2007, 22:55   #5
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I don't mean to derail your "Cold weather gear" thread, Kevin, but can you disclose which cat you finally decided on? If you'd rather wait until after the survey, I understand.

If all goes well in survey, congratulations!

On the cold weather thing, have you considered just moving to San Diego to be with your vessel, rather than moving your vessel up the coast at the worst possible time of the year?

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Old 06-12-2007, 00:58   #6
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Kevin - I'm in San Diego, and depending upon your route (and if you're looking for anyone else) I might be able to crew for part of the trip. Currently nursing a broken foot back to life, but by January I should be doing jumping jacks :-) Just a thought, but if you need a hand from here to LA, or LA to SF, let me know.

My gear, for what it's worth:

- Goretex offshore foulies. My bib pants see an tremendous amount of use.
- WM knee high boots, *tested* to make sure they don't have leaks, before any big trip.
- Wool socks. Honestly, your feet stay pretty darn warm when they're in air tight foul weather boots.
- Full finger insulated gloves, two pairs in case one gets wet. I'm a glove freak and bring about 5 pairs in total for a long trip, because I can't stand wet gloves. I have a set of outdoor research goretex mitts, but I haven't used them underway yet.
- For my melon, I use an outdoor research seattle sombrero to keep the rain off. I only use the built in hood if there's a lot of wind running too. The OR hat is nicer because it keeps the rain off your face (again, if there's not much wind).

Normally in the (southern californian) winter I keep my foulies below unless I need them, and use a goretex shell and wool sweater under that to stay warm. It's lighter, more comfortable, easier to peel off layers.

One thing you're going to be dealing with is a lot of fog and lot of dew. Both of them are annoying and somewhat dangerous. The boat will get drenched at night if near shore (30-40 miles out I still get it), and it makes the decks slick as hell. Also makes the seats wet unless under a bimini / dodger / whatever, which might sound trivial but a wet ass for a 12-4 watch is rather annoying.

The fog will be rough. I took a boat to San Diego from SF in January a few years ago and I was stunned at how bad the fog was. I remember watching the oil platforms off of San Pedro dissapear in seconds.
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Old 06-12-2007, 04:43   #7
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I don't know much about the area you are sailing but at 45 North in the middle of winter you are crackers and their ain't no palm trees on landfall...

That being said

Is it going to be long and cold, or is it going to be wet and windy too? "the helm is completely enclosed in a dodger like enclosure." Is it dry inside the dodger?

I can handle cold with good clothes, but cold and wet is not my cuppa. I have a coupla 'lil tricks (ssssh! Don't tell anyone!) if I know its gunna be spray in the face and theres no auto-pilot: a grinders full face helmet. Keeps the cold spray off the face and it covers past your chin so spray doesnt get down the chest.

This one is from Victor Safety. Not the galsses.

The other trick is I always take some bathroom hand towels or small bath towels. I wrap them round my neck under the foulies and any water that gets inside your jacket gets soaked up there. Have a fresh towel for each watch and if you take enough of them they will have dried out by the time you run out If you take enough then you can change them if you cop a greeny in the face. Also I use the towels to wipe down the inside and outside of my wet weather gear at the end of my watch. I hate putting on damp kit! And dont get your stuff mixed up with the other crew. You look after your better and you'll feel great when everyone else is shivering.

Any clown can put on a big warm wooly top, but its more difficult to keep it dry


On the bit about keeping out of the pro-crews way. I wouldn't! Get right in there and do everything you can! Suck knowledge out of them! look at them and how they do things and see if you can emulate them, and then find superior methods to doing things. Many pro sailors pick up bad lazy habits, and a keen new eye can pick them.

Use the whole trip as a learning exercise to try things and if someone says 'no' get a full explanation of why not, and how to do it. Be like a 2 year old why why why...

Heavy weather sailing with a good crew is great fun!
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Old 06-12-2007, 05:54   #8
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Dear Kevin
Search Yacht Chandler and check the clothing, Musto etc., Unfortunately like they say, the more you pay the better you get, however for aroung $ 500 - 700 you should be able to get a pretty good, last years model, ofshore set.

Steve
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Old 06-12-2007, 06:40   #9
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Kevin,

Have a great time on your trip. As others said, don't be shy about engaging your crew. Just because they are paid doesn't mean they have all the answers. I had a purported professional aboard as crew who told me I had the sails trimmed "wrong." After fiddling around for several minutes she managed to slow the boat down by nearly a knot. On the other hand, a friend of mine helped me squeeze well over 10 degrees of pointing out of my boat using backstay tension adjustments better. Take your learning where you can get it; you should be able to *see* results.

For socks, boots, and gloves:

I wear Sahalie "Wild Thangs" in cold weather ( Sahalie - Wild Thangs (unisex) ). I'm sure there are equally good alternatives. These things are magic as far as I'm concerned, and the colors are entertaining. <grin>

The Neoprene boots you referred to ... do you mean dive boots? I think you are going to want something that gives your feet a little more room. I use Dubarry Shamrock sailing boots, but any decent sailing boot will do, even West Marine rubber specials. If the boot doesn't have insulation of its own make sure there is room to layer a couple of pairs of socks, and get a couple sets of larger socks for the outer layer so they aren't too tight.

My approach to gloves is probably unusual. In my experience the thicker, better insulated gloves make it really hard to manipulate things. Most of your time on watch is spent ... well ... watching. I suggest a nice set of ski gloves, perhaps with glove liners if it's going to be cold enough. Also carry a set of rubberized work gloves (a few bucks at hardware and home improvement stores) to wear over regular sailing gloves for when things are really really wet. If you do have to adjust a line or help with a reef just pull off the gloves and work either bare-handed or with regular sailing gloves. This approach served me well in the Skagerrak and North Sea in late winter. Oh -- I now also keep a box of chemical hand-warmers aboard; you can get them at any ski shop and they are much cheaper by the box than individually.
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Old 06-12-2007, 09:30   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevinmac View Post

So, about "not cotton", does that mean not jeans for pants? What material should I be wearing? Heck, I have lived in jeans and T-shirts for so long, I am not sure I know what something else looks like...

Kevin
Get some of those fleece synthetic pants to wear under your foulie pants. There are all sorts of trade names for them. They are much warmer and more comfortable than cotton jeans as well.
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Old 06-12-2007, 11:21   #11
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Socks! Underwear!

Rebelheart may be a gloves freak, but I'm a socks freak. I try to bring a dozen or more pairs, with at least two or three pair in separate little ziploc baggies just in case my berth/locker ends up wet. I like wool socks in general, for cold-weather work, but there are excellent technical synthetics so I'm not a wool evangelist.

I have a collection of underwear just for sailing, and I treat them more special than I do the rest of my wardrobe. For a serious cruise like what you're talking about I would take my three best sets of longies (tops and bottoms, for me), with one set tucked into ziploc baggies just in case. I wear separate undershorts under my longies, which are changed regularly so the longies don't get too smelly. Silk or high-tech synthetics are probably your best choices; I have tested a lot of long johns, and I have a couple wool ones which make the cut, but they're not found at your average departement store or WM. Look for mountaineering gear shops, not your typical "outdoor sports" store. For the undershorts under the longies, NO COTTON.

Hats, gloves, foulies... these are all too individual for me to advise.

If you're running without a heater, you need to figure out how you will dry gear out below. I'm guessing you won't figure this out in time, and will have problems because of it, but it will be a learning opportunity. Research where your engine's heat exchanger is located, and the exhaust. It will smell, but put wet gear in mesh bags rather than plastic, preferably hanging somewhere.
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Old 06-12-2007, 12:18   #12
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Ah - if we are talking about long underwear, there is nothing better than Damart (Damart.com). A Chicago motorcycle cop (ride all through winter) pointed them out to me. They are the bomb. I have two sets of #3 and a set of #5. The #3 has always been plenty warm enough.
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Old 06-12-2007, 12:34   #13
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I should add that I'm a socks freak as well. I only have dress socks, and Smart Wool $20/pair awesome wool socks. I've got a good background in backpacking in new england and the high sierras, so I can always dip into my "crazy bag" of winter equipment. Crampons and ice axes anyone ? :-)
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Old 06-12-2007, 13:46   #14
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This is great stuff, very useful everyone, thank you! Please keep it coming...

Tao, I am superstitious, I'll wait until the survey is over and the title is transferred before talking about it.

Kevin
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Old 06-12-2007, 13:55   #15
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A gentleman’s socks should match his tie. I don’t wear a tie, so …
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