Welcome to the UKWA Home Page Forums Cruising What to wear for cruising

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    I’m new to sailing, new to this forum, and very excited about both!

    Having bitten the sailing bug with friends over the last few months, I bought a Mk1 Wayfarer a couple of weeks ago, and am looking forward to learning to sail her, and take my family (wife, 10, 7, 3 +baby on the way) on some short cruises around the South Wales / North Devon coast.

    The burning question I have, is What to wear? My friends – all ex dinghy racers all get togged up in wetsuits when we go out. Starting out from nothing, I am not sure whether to go for good sailing waterproofs, or a wet suit, or a dry suit. I have no intention of capsizing on a regular (or irregular) basis, but not sure just how stable the wayfarer is. My initial thought was to go for good waterproofs and ensure a dry set of clothes is in the locker.

    Over the winter, while it is cold & wet, but when the weather is good enough, it is most likely to be just me and my (very robust) 10 year old son (+ experienced friend while I am learning) going out. Come the warmer weather next year, I will get wife and daughters involved as well.

    Any advice would be greatly received….

    Thanks in advance,





    What to wear? Well, may sound silly but depends on your mood and the weather.

    When I take a bunch of youngsters on the Broads, my assistants know that if I am in tracksuit and fleece, I WILL stay dry. (OK, the odd gust may think otherwise though). However, if its blowy, or I am in playful mood, my wetsuit goes on and the boys know we are in for some fun.

    I normally take part in distance races (around the Broads), for these, I will wear tracksuit and T shirt, with a couple of fleeces and full foulies up front should they be needed.

    I dont sail at sea so cant comment what to wear out there.


    The Wayfarer is a very stable boat so whilst learning to sail I would suggest no need for winterwetsuits or drysuits, just loads of warm clothing,hats and waterproofs. You do not want to capsize in winter but there is no reason to unless you are pushing the limits far too soon……wait till the summer for that……..by then you’ll know what clothes /type of sailing you are aiming at……….
    I have never capsized and with common sense it should be avoidable……..in winter DONT unless a rescue boat is right next door
    ie I would aim to dress for warm dry sails in winter

    Bob Harland

    Welcome to the Wayfarer Forum.
    Ralph Roberts has written an excellent article;
    He covers a number of topics that might be relevant to you including clothing.
    If you are new to sailing I suggest you stick to sheltered waters until you have plenty of experience.

    The Wayfarer Book – if you don’t have a copy – contains a wealth of advice on all aspects of cruising, and I strongly recommend it;

    Good sailing.


    Hi Peter,

    Welcome to the world of Wayfarer sailing,

    I hope you realise what a highly addictive hobby you have just embarked upon?

    I have to come here every evening to get my fix in the Winter…ha!

    Smashing to hear you talking of the family being involved, it is the way forward.

    I often sail at Poole Harbour, if you ever decide to go there, please let me know and I will join you in Naomi.


    Wetsuits are very uncomfortable and not warm when you get out of the water (remember that racers are working hard so keep warm).
    Drysuits are less uncomfortable and should be worn for winter sailing for safety – hypothermia kills! I use a pair of dry trousers as a compromise. Close fitting entry and as hogh up the chest as possible. No more cold wet feet after launching.
    Summer sailing is waterproofs, the best quality you can afford, with base layer and fleece underneath. Don’t wear cotton or denim. Buffalo is brilliant.
    Don’t underestimate how cold a day sail can be, even in July.
    Good luck.


    Hi Peter
    Musing on your post a bit more……….you have asked a provocative question……….open sea sailing is a serious business and as a relative beginner (and not a winter sailor) I am writing as much to learn. The advice Ralph Roberts gives cannot be bettered! And Matt’s is equally knowledgeable if briefer. I am replying from the “if I were to do it perspective”
    My attitude would be if the weather was mild, the wind light and conditions sheltered (not open sea) then go for it……but exercising total caution ….your local circumstances will dictate.
    Staying dry and warm while launching is the challenge, then staying dry and warm while sailing and dry and warm while recovering the boat. Not easy. Go for a short sail not a long one. There is a reason why the sailing season ends for most people………Equally challenging yourself and your environment is why people sail. Learn by your mistakes but make them small ones…..try it and get a bit cold!
    It might be hard to justify the drysuit bottoms and top quality coat but if I was free to sail all year round I imagine they would be indespensible and I would be doing it. But my original point was to answer your question how stable is the Wayfarer. Answer………relative to what your dinghy sailing wetsuit clad friends probably sail…………very stable! Have fun.

    Tony Green

    Hi Peter
    The wayfarer is a stable and predictable boat which is why it is such a suitable boat for cruising. Start cautious. If you can, learn your limits when there is a rescue boat around, stay well within your limits at other times.

    Clothing – You and your crew need to be comfortable and safe. The choice is personal and determined by assessment/acceptance of risk/weather.
    Wet suits are good for short sails where you are active and have access to a good shower at the end of the sail, their main advantage is that they don’t fail catastrophically when damaged, they are close fitting so don’t tend to catch on other things, thats why the racers use them. They can be a good choice for younger growing crew.
    A drysuite over good thermal layers is more comfortable especially if all or part breathable, a fly zip is well worth a bit extra if you go for extended cruises. Adjusting layers to keep your temperature comfortable is not so easy as conditions change. The neck seal is the only likely uncomfortable bit but careful trimming helps.
    Waterproofs/windproofs over good thermals work well but degrade when wet and not so good when swimming.
    My preference is between drysuite or waterproofs based on availability of assistance, wind strength and water/air temperature. I tend to err on the choice of drysuite though many cruisers will use waterproofs.

    As Matt says it can be quite cool even in July especially if you are an inactive crew. Choose days for family cruises when they will come back wanting to go again (learned from experience).

    Above all enjoy your sailing…

    Colin Parkstone

    Gents and Ladies,
    I race only and say to all my crews too put in the boat what they may want to ware as you cannot put it on if it is not!!!!!
    A warm crew works best !!!

    CP 🙂


    I spent a long time thinking about what to wear because I launch and recover on a river beach. I can launch with just getting my feet wet up to the ankles, but I have yet to master recovering the boat by going in less than thigh deep. I watch the much more experienced club members come in and at least one of them (i.e. of a crew of two) also goes in thigh deep. I don’t want to spend all day in a wet suit or dry suit just for the 15 minutes of wading around at the end.

    My solution, so far untested, was to buy a pair of fisherman’s chest high waders – is that the same as dry trousers? – and expect to change on arrival back off the club. As I sail single handed quite often, I have the habit of picking up a buoy off the club, dropping the sails and rowing in, rather than trying to sail her on to the beach on my own. The fisherman’s outfit was £40, whereas I saw what I take to be the same thing for dinghy sailors for £130. So far untested, but seems like a result to me – always assuming it is realistic to change whilst sitting on a buoy.

    The Kells (a very experienced Wayfarer cruising couple) also recommend Buffalo clothing as the solution to the “what to wear” problem. It is extremely warm – I’ve only tried it on in a show room!

    There is some really good advice in this thread – start in small steps, take lots of clothing, make sure they want to go back for more. Also carry lots to eat – sailing generates a voracious appetite!


    If you sail a GRP boat them foam padding to sit on dramatically increases your abillity to stave off the cold. I use swimming floats attached with bungee


    Is this another advantage of wooden boats? They are warmer on the arse too?



    Depends whether you set then alight first!

    Happy Christmas, and fair winds in the New Year.

    Your occasional crew!


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