Results 1 to 11 of 11

Thread: Alternative Foul Weather Gear - Full Wetsuit

  1. #1

    Default Alternative Foul Weather Gear - Full Wetsuit

    Imagine that you are anchor down in paradise and the weather report says that a tropical low is heading your way. You decide to sit it out at anchor because your anchorage appears secure. The tropical storm intensifies and conditions become wild in the anchorage with wind gusting to seventy knots. It's pouring torrential rain and you are worried about chafe of your anchor bridle. Even worse, your roller furler has started to unwind, and the genoa is flogging in the wind. What gear should you put on to deal with the problem?

    Imagine that you are sailing offshore and an intense low pressure area or a squash zone overtakes you. The wind is blowing sixty five knots with higher gusts and the rain is blowing horizontal. There is a problem on deck that requires your attention. What gear should you put on to deal with the problem?

    The traditional answer is that you should get in your foul weather gear to deal with the challenge on deck.

    There is another answer that we used on Exit Only. We carried a full wetsuit from head to toe for such emergencies. Foul weather gear is bulky and presents a large profile to the wind gusts. They are rather like the flying squirrel wing suits that people are using to glide with when they jump out of airplanes. You can really get blown around, maybe even overboard in your foul weather gear/flying squirrel wing suit in a tropical storm. And if you do get blown overboard, waterlogged foul weather gear provides little protection from hypothermia and is very difficult to swim in.

    A full wetsuit has some advantages in this type of crisis. The suit presents very little wind resistance so that you are no longer wearing a wing suit. It's easier to move around on deck and there is less risk of getting blown overboard (you should be wearing a harness and a tether). It doesn't matter how hard it rains or how much sea water is dumped on you, you remain warm and able to work. In the event that you get blown overboard or fall overboard, you are buoyant and you can easily swim in the wetsuit.

    On Exit Only we carry one full body wetsuit for situations like these. It also doubles as an immersion suit if the need should arise.

    Do any of you multihull sailors use a full body wetsuit for foul weather gear in extreme weather?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Devon, UK
    Posts
    2,793

    Default Re: Alternative Foul Weather Gear - Full Wetsuit

    Dave,
    What a bloody good idea, do you wear neoprene booties and balaclava, or what ?

  3. #3

    Default Re: Alternative Foul Weather Gear - Full Wetsuit

    Booties, hood, and fingerless gloves to be able to work with your finger tips.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Santa Barbara, Calif.
    Posts
    539

    Default Re: Alternative Foul Weather Gear - Full Wetsuit

    Dave,

    I used to wear my wetsuit when sailing my Seabird Yawl in rough weather. It was the best and cheapest way to stay warm on a very wet boat and, as you point out, it would have worked far better than a life jacket it I went overboard. Another benefit was that it provided a bit of padding and so made crawling around on deck and getting knocked around a bit less painfull. There's no reason why you can't put a light jacket on over the suit to provide pockets for say, a leatherman, but I'm guessing you've already worked something out for that.

    Since i moved up to a boat with a dodger and learned to stay put when the weather is bad I have had occasion to use foul weather gear only twice in the past 15 years, but plan to bring wetsuits once we start cruising. If I were ever in a situation in which I felt there was a chance the cat could capsize or founder I would feel much better if I were wearing my wetsuit.

    I was once boarded by the Coast Guard while at anchor and as part of the inspection they asked to see my life jacket. When I showed them my wetsuit they said that is was not "approved" and that I would have to "terminate the voyage". I pointed out that my 1/4" dive suit would not only provide more flotation than a lifejacket, but in the chilly waters of wintertime California it would keep my alive as well as afloat. I also pointed out that in order to terminate my voyage I would have to sail home without a lifejacket. To their credit they ended up lending me a lifejacket and let me carry on.

    Mike

  5. #5

    Default Re: Alternative Foul Weather Gear - Full Wetsuit

    It's gratifiying to hear that the Coasties behaved in a professional manner, and that they made a contribution to your voyage. That's what they are out there to do, and I salute them. Good on you for sticking to your guns.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Durban, South Africa
    Posts
    64

    Default Re: Alternative Foul Weather Gear - Full Wetsuit

    When racing in a week long long regatta aboard a Buccaneer 23, in Algoa Bay Port Elizabeth South Africa, I was the bowman. A very wet and cold position if not properly geared up. And my answer to the constant barrage of water and spray was a 5mm full wetsuit...
    It did the trick like an absolute charm. Even though one runs the risk of looking slightly Gimpish, Its way more comfortable that foul weather gear, especiallly working up front!!
    Good call I'd say

  7. #7

    Default Re: Alternative Foul Weather Gear - Full Wetsuit

    Quote Originally Posted by Maxingout View Post
    I We carried a full wetsuit from head to toe for such emergencies.
    How do you store the wetsuit when it is not in use? Use talcum and roll it/fold it when it is dry? Hang it in open air? Mine is an old one that I purchased second hand. It is in good condition and works well, but seems to always be outgassing (neoprene odor). I also know these do not like high heat and being folded dry in a tight fashion. On a boat with limited storage space inside, I worry about failure of the fabric.

    Jim

  8. #8

    Default Re: Alternative Foul Weather Gear - Full Wetsuit

    Quote Originally Posted by sailrjim View Post
    How do you store the wetsuit when it is not in use? Use talcum and roll it/fold it when it is dry? Hang it in open air? Mine is an old one that I purchased second hand. It is in good condition and works well, but seems to always be outgassing (neoprene odor). I also know these do not like high heat and being folded dry in a tight fashion. On a boat with limited storage space inside, I worry about failure of the fabric.

    Jim
    We folded the full length wet suit over a hanger and hung it up in a half-length closet. Our closets are dry, and there was no outgassing so we never noted any odor from the wet suit. We never used any talcum on the wet suit.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Island living on the Outer Banks
    Posts
    407

    Default Re: Alternative Foul Weather Gear - Full Wetsuit

    First off, talcum powder is for rubber lubrication, as in the wrists and neck of DRY suits. Don't gum up a neoprene wetsuit with it. Secondly, the surest way to make a wetsuit fail and rip apart is by folding it! Rinse it in fresh water and hang it in the shade. Get one of those BIG wetsuit hangers that won't crease the shoulders and hang it in the shower to dry, that's probably where your rinsing it off anyway. This reminds me of the old adage, "There's two types of diver's, those who pee in their wetsuits, and liars", but I digress. It is IMPERATIVE that when wearing a wetsuit that you get wet asap! I have dealt with more cases of heat exhaustion, and stroke from people putting them on dry, then not getting in the water right away. If you want a little thermal protection while working on the boat, I'd suggest a 2mm shorty like what the surfer's wear. Your not as likely to get overheated while working, they float, and you can still gain plenty of warmth with it (even if it's dry) Capt. Terry

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    West Central Florida
    Posts
    970

    Default Re: Alternative Foul Weather Gear - Full Wetsuit

    Quote Originally Posted by Maxingout View Post

    Do any of you multihull sailors use a full body wetsuit for foul weather gear in extreme weather?
    No, but after reading a good portion of your circumnavigation blog a long time ago it is on the list if I ever go offshore.

    If the wife convinces me not to sell the Gem I will look for a "shorty" as I have been out in our thunderstorms to 40 knots and it gets cold fast!! Plus I cannot find jackets or pants to fit because I have long arms and legs with a short torso so my wrists and ankles are uncovered while the chest and legs catch the wind as you state.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  11. #11

    Default Re: Alternative Foul Weather Gear - Full Wetsuit

    While a wetsuit works fine in the tropics, when we raced Hobie in the 'marathon' between. Sweden and Finland, dry suit is indispensable, proper undies depending on the conditions. Works fine in cockpits of bigger boats too.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •