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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 3:58 pm 
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Hi All, I am hoping to crew this weekend for a race on Lake St Clair in Michigan, with water temps somewhere in the range of 50 degrees. I have never sailed in anything other then shorts and maybe a t-shirt. So far, the weatherman calls for 7-10mph wind, sunny and 70 outside.

I have the hobie/Stolquist 5502 life jacket, some nice sailing gloves and a full harness. In addition, I was able to borrow a heavy shorty style wetsuit, and a thinner full wetsuit. They are both loose fitting, can I/should I wear one under the other? I also have a pair of cheap watershoes, and a nylon wind breaker with no lining.

Knowing that I will probably need more, what else should I be looking for? What do you wear under the wetsuit? Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Steve

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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 5:15 pm 
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Here are a two of my favourites for warmth.

This paddling hood is AMAZING at keeping your head warm. It stretches a bit, so you can keep it on like a scarf, and pull it up over your head as it gets cold. It's quite comfortable, and really keeps your head and ears warm.
http://www.mec.ca/AST/ShopMEC/Paddling/MensWatersportsClothing/PRD~5019-008/mec-capilano-paddling-hood-unisex.jsp

I also really like these pants. (next link below) They have feet built into them. They're waterproof, and I wear neoprene boots overtop of the feet, but under the ankle section of the pants. They're probably my new favourite piece of clothing. On a Great Lake, you could probably get away with wearing wetsuit shorts, and nothing else underneath. Maybe a pair of sweatpants. There is a potential for danger with these though. They sit relatively high, which is good, and they have an adjustable waist band (which really sits around your stomach area) but in theory, if you were to spend significant amount of time submerged, they run a risk of filling with water, which means you'd have to take them off, while in the water. When I tip my Bravo, I almost never end up in the water, other then when I right it, and that's only a 5 second dip in and out, rarely getting my chest or above wet. So these work perfectly for me.

I was out sailing the other day in cool water, but warm air. I wore these pants with shorts underneath, but brought along a wetsuit in case things went wrong. I find that sailing in warm air, but cool water is difficult in just a wetsuit because I get too hot, and dehydrate. These are great because you can layer shorts, or pants underneath (even wetsuit shorts or pants) and these won't get too hot in the air, but protect in the cold water.

I have tipped in 6 degree Celcius (~42 Fahrenheit) and not had ANY problems. Again, I'm in and out of the water very quickly, but it's SO nice to stay dry, because you stay much more comfortable than just the wetsuit.

Here is a link to the pants.http://www.mec.ca/AST/ShopMEC/Paddling/ ... unisex.jsp

You can get them without the feet which eliminate the possibility of them becoming an anchor, but I think the feet are one of the nicest features.

I also have a Gil dinghy sailing jacket which is great for keeping the wind and water off, but obviously useless if you are submerged. There's more, but I've talked enough for now. :)

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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 5:42 pm 
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augaug wrote:
You can get them without the feet which eliminate the possibility of them becoming an anchor,


I don't mean to be a dork or highjack your thread, but I feel compelled to correct a myth. Water inside your bootfoot waders or pants will NOT act like an anchor or cause you to lose bouyancy. The water inside your waders (if it even can get in) has the same bouyancy as the water outside. You won't go sinking to the bottom. IF waer gets in, you will be wet and have more difficulty swimming, but you won't sink like a ton of bricks. Throw a plastic bucket of water into the lake and see what happens.

As far as water getting inside your waders, check out this video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYwG52p4yjs

again, I don't mean to change the subject. Thanks for the suggestions.


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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 6:12 pm 
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Location: Jersey Shore
ASDASC wrote:
I have the hobie/Stolquist 5502 life jacket, some nice sailing gloves and a full harness. In addition, I was able to borrow a heavy shorty style wetsuit, and a thinner full wetsuit. They are both loose fitting, can I/should I wear one under the other? I also have a pair of cheap watershoes, and a nylon wind breaker with no lining.

Knowing that I will probably need more, what else should I be looking for? What do you wear under the wetsuit? Any help would be appreciated.


If you don't want to die of hypothermia, you should wear a wetsuit (or drysuit) that fits properly. Sorry to be blunt, but 50 degree water is more than cold enough to kill you if you're in it for an extended period of time. On a Hobie, you have to accept that being in the water is a definite possibility. A shorty, even a properly fitting one, will not provide enough protection for 50 degree water. A loose fitting wetsuit of any style will do little more for you than regular street clothes if you're fully immersed. Wetsuits need to be snug to your body in order to prevent cold water from flushing through the suit and cooling your body. The neck, wrists, and ankles need to seal to your body.

Also, you shouldn't wear anything under a wetsuit with the exception of possibly a rash guard (lycra shirt) and/or a speedo or bike shorts. You should not wear any underwear or street clothes under the suit - it will be extremely uncomfortable.

Cheap water shoes and a windbreaker are simply not enough protection for most people in 50 degree water. A windbreaker provides zero insulation. You will probably be very uncomfortable in that gear.

If you're going to sail in cold water, bite the bullet and buy a decent wetsuit. They aren't that expensive ($100 - $200 will provide a lot of protection) and will last for several years. Get a good pair of booties (5 to 7mm thick). Having warm feet makes a HUGE difference between being comfortable and uncomfortable. And get some good head protection.

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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 7:23 pm 
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LarryJ wrote:
augaug wrote:
You can get them without the feet which eliminate the possibility of them becoming an anchor,


I don't mean to be a dork or highjack your thread, but I feel compelled to correct a myth. Water inside your bootfoot waders or pants will NOT act like an anchor or cause you to lose bouyancy.


Don't feel like a dork!! You're absolutely correct! I had someone in a sailing store tell me that this was a danger with these pants, and I figured, he must be smarter than me since he had decades of sailing experience, but of course you're right! That makes much more sense. (usually I'm pretty good at science! :oops: )

I guess where the problem comes in is getting back OUT of the water. Taking pants full of water up out of the water could cause difficulties because the pants will weigh so much. But yes, they will absolutely not be an anchor. Thanks for the correction!

Your video does correspond with my experiences very well. My pants seal to my body better than that guys waders, and he was still able to get out, so you would need a complete failure of the pants to get them anywhere close to full. Once again, thanks for the correction.

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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 8:01 am 
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Location: Harsens Island, Michigan
Ok, this is a lot of good information, and I really appreciate the feedback. I thought when I had looked they were close to $1000. Buying one that fits seems like the right thing to do. Looking at the Murrey's site, I don't see many (any?) with long sleeves for sailing. I am assuming I want long sleeves and long legs? Also, what thickness is appropriate?

Lastly, I didn't see the booties anywhere, but will keep looking. I am 6'2" with a 34" waist, so do I get the Medium with the proper waist, or the XL with the proper height? It also doesn't help that I am long waisted with shorter legs. Would the seperate top and bottom work OK?

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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 8:26 am 
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[quote=" Wetsuits need to be snug to your body in order to prevent cold water from flushing through the suit and cooling your body. The neck, wrists, and ankles need to seal to your body.

sm[/quote]

I didn't know this! Thank you. I have never worn one, and thought that wet suits intentionally let some water in, that your body warmed up to use as an insulating layer. I figured that dry suits are the ones that seal up tight so no water gets near your body.

I am sure that as soon as I take the first plunge into the cold water, I will figure out quickly what works and doesn't work! (of course, by then it will be too late to change anything...)

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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 9:48 am 
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As I said, the wetsuit should be snug (not tight). On a back zipper suit (surfer style), the zipper should spring open somewhat when you unzip. That is a good indicator that the suit isn't too loose. The suit should not be so tight that it heavily restrains your movement. The idea is that you don't want water flushing through the suit as the water exchange will take away body heat. Even with a snug fitting suit, water will enter the suit. Depending on the style (quality) of the suit, it may enter though the seams (overlock stitch or flat lock stitch suits) or the seams may be sealed (glued & blind stitched suits, or welded seam suits), but water will definintely enter through the zipper.
The less water that enters the suit, the warmer you will be (water is cold and it takes body heat to warm it up).

The higher quality the suit, the more comfortable it will be (more panels and more stretch neoprene). Go by the manufacturer's size chart, specifically the height and weight requirements. Also realize that there are no standard sizes, i.e., one manufacturer's size Large may be another manufacturer's size XL. You need to refer to the size chart specifically for the brand of suit you're looking at.

As far as type and thickness of suit. A full arm & full leg suit will provide the most warmth. These are surfer style suits and are available anywhere from 2mm thick up to 6mm thick. You need a suit like this for sailing in very cold weather. For water in the 30's to low 50's with air in the 30's to 60's, I would likely choose a 5/4/3 full suit with 7mm booties and a neoprene hood.

Water temps in the 50s and air in the 70's I'd probably use a 3mm full suit with booties, hood, and spray top as necessary for comfort. Or I'd use a jacket and john type suit. Many Hobie sailors prefer a jacket and john style suit as they provide a lot of versatility (although they aren't as warm as a one-piece full suit). Spray tops are also very good at cutting down wind chill although they don't really provide any insulation.

Check out http://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com for a large selection of suits. It's always best to try on a suit before you buy it, but if you don't live near any shops, these guys are pretty good with their exchange policy.

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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 10:27 am 
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srm wrote:

Water temps in the 50s and air in the 70's I'd probably use a 3mm full suit with booties, hood, and spray top as necessary for comfort.
sm


SRM has great information. The only thing that I'd add is that for me (and it really is a personal thing) once the air temperature is into the 70's, I find that wearing a wetsuit can be very uncomfortable because all I do is sweat, which in turn can cause you to dehydrate quite quickly.

When the water is still cold, and the air temperature is in the 70's, I'll bring the full wetsuit along, but by then I'm usually wearing my wetsuit shorts, and a separate vest.

My usual system looks like this,

Top:
Rashguard - or moisture wicking long sleeve shirt
Wetsuit vest
Life Jacket
Spray top

Bottom,
Spandex underwear - or even bicycle shorts (moisture wicking, fast drying, not cotton)
Wetsuit shorts
Dry pants (with built in feet)
Socks under the dry pants on feet
Neoprene booties over the dry pants on feet

These are listed from Body, to outer layer. I realize that you don't want to know about my underwear :? but I'm sailing on a Bravo, so if things get really crazy, I can furl my sail in an instant and, if necessary, change completely into my full wetsuit. You need a layer under the wetsuit shorts to do that without scaring the crap out of the passing boaters :wink:

The other thing is that I'm able to take on and off my spray top without removing my life jacket. That helps for when you get hot, you can dip your hands or arms in the water to help keep you cooler.

I use a wetsuit a lot more in the Fall, when air and water temperatures are closer, but in the Spring, you can have very hot days on the water, while having very cold temperatures in the water. It's a bit tougher to dress for Spring than for Fall. Dress for safety first, and comfort second, but with the right selection of clothes, you can find a solution that meets both of those requirements.

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PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 7:09 am 
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Thank you all for the information! I have not yet found a boat to crew on, but have found a place locally with everything I need. It is a little more expensive then online, but not bad.

If I can confirm a ride for this weekend today or even early tomorrow, I will pop for the needed gear.

Your help and education has been invaluable! Thanks again.

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1979 Hobie 16 "Orange Crusher"
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PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 11:36 am 
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If buying a wet suit be aware of the outter surface material. Wet suits with a cloth finish (many farmer johns and shorties come this way), when continually splashed and wet, result in much more evaporative cooling than a smooth skinned wet suit. If the water is cold and the air relatively warm you can still get chilled do to this evaporation. It is readily solved with wind jacket and wind pants worn over the suit. Also, a neoprene cap is a good addition to booties and gloves. :wink: 8)
P.S. I found wet suits made for windsurfers (e.g., ProMotion, Hood River, Or) work well for sailing (more freedom of motion in the arms) and smooth skin panels front and back. :wink:


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PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2012 7:11 am 
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Good information, and it makes sense when you think about it. Sailing a H16 is a lot more like windsurfing than sailing a Thistle.

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PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2012 11:28 am 
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I finally got around to trying on the wetsuits I had borrowed, and the full one seems to fit pretty tight, to the point of it being a little hard to breath without thinking about it! The downside is that it is only 1mm thickness. Seeing that we will be on a course with a chase boat, I am thinking I would have to worry too much about being in the water more than a few minutes from a pitchpole, right?

Also, is UnderArmor the same as a chafe guard or rashguard?

Lastly, will my Nylon jacket with no lining work as a spray jacket?

Thanks,

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PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2012 11:52 am 
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Steve - given the weather forecast for this weekend (74 deg., wind <12 kts), there almost certainly won't be a need for you to go in the water from a chase boat. You also don't want to overheat when you're sitting around.

You want something to keep the spray off your top. The nylon jacket will probably work fine worn under a lifejacket. I'm planning to wear shorts on the signal boat.


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PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2012 12:10 pm 
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It's true that smooth skin wetsuits are warmer because of less evaporative cooling. However, you probably want to avoid 100% smooth skin suits. The problem is they're a lot less durable than suits with cloth coated neoprene. They're good for surfing, windsurfing, etc, but a 100% smooth skin suit will get torn up if you're crawling around on a Hobie. It's best to stick to suits that have smooth skin only in the body panels and arms. Avoid smooth skin on the legs and rear end if possible. Also look for suits with built in knee pads.

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