Sailing gear for a summer on a tall ship
May 21, 2014 4:07 PM   Subscribe

I will be working as a deckhand on a tall ship this summer, sailing up and down the East Coast of the U.S. I need to buy foul weather gear in the next few days. I know I need a jacket, pants, boots, and a rigging knife. What should I look for when I purchase these items? Is there anything else essential that I need, gear-wise?

Folks have recommended West Marine and Grunden's to me, but I'd like a bit of guidance as to what to look for in these stores.

Details: I'll be on the boat end of May to beginning of September. It's a two-masted schooner that goes relatively fast. We're starting in Florida, then sailing to the Chesapeake Bay, then to Boston, then Maine, then Bermuda in August, then back to the U.S. but not sure where.

I get cold really easily so it's important to me to get good foulies to keep me warm. I've seen this and this question but I'm asking about live aboard conditions for the whole summer in potentially varying climates.
posted by danceswithlight to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
There are a lot of opinions on sailing knives. Traditionally, you want a blade without a sharp point. My only real advice is that West has a lot of cheap, unsatisfactory gear, as well as moderate stuff, but not too much of the top of the line, pro stuff. So shop carefully.

Get a hat. With a brim. Sunblock. Sailing gloves. Boat shoes, and maybe sailing boots (I'd wait and ask).
posted by SemiSalt at 4:45 PM on May 21, 2014

Do you need the marlinspike? There are plenty of reliable options for folders if you do. Mine is one I acquired as teenager working at a marina. Its from the '50s and still usable. My modern preference is an earlier version of this I like the fixed blade because its easily attached to a PFD and cold fingers dont have to struggle to open it.

As for the other gear... I'd first ask the crew of the ship. You're going to need a wide range of gear, given the range of the sail. You might google around and see if you can find the Outward Bound gear list. I spent a while at sea with them and although we were provided with FWG, there was plenty we had to supply ourselves. Lots of mine came from Eastern Mountain Sports, actually.

And don't forget the sunscreen. And a boonie hat.
posted by blaneyphoto at 6:12 PM on May 21, 2014

Get a jacket with neoprene cuffs, you don't want water running in.
posted by unreasonable at 6:14 PM on May 21, 2014

Seconding Semi-Salt. West Marine caters mainly to the weekend boater set and sells a lot of over-priced, flimsy gear. See if you can find a proper chandler that caters to professional mariners.
Make sure to add a good pair or two sailing gloves to your kit.
posted by islander at 6:31 PM on May 21, 2014

1. Tilley hat with a float in it
2. Hat Clip for any ball caps you wear.
2. Sunglasses with croakies and possibly side shields
3. Sailing Gloves (probably 3/4 finger)
4. Udder Cream for your hands
5. Zinc for your nose
6. Drybag for all your personal stuff that won't survive a swim in the ocean.

You are on a tall ship not a racing boat, so you really want to look the part - you likely don't need a dry suit or knee pads or hike shorts.
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:55 PM on May 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sailing gloves.

I'm not familiar with what constitute "sailing gloves" as such, but worked a summer on a 700' and learned that if you need gloves at all they'd better be double-palmed, because single-palmed work gloves have nothing resembling the necessary durability. This may be more of a concern with cables than ropes, and I worked mainly with the former.
posted by mr. digits at 7:58 PM on May 21, 2014

Lots of great advice here... I have a kid who sails competitively from winter thru summer. With clothing you need the quick dry clothing that's made for athletic wear. We've found that as long as he has dry clothes he'll stay warm longer. We've had great luck at Eastern Mountain Sports for sweatshirt type clothing that dries fast. Don't forget shoes. You'll need I would guess 2 pairs closed toe types for sailing. Also my kid loves bandanas - to cover his head, to cover his face if it's cold, to wear around his neck. You're not facing winter conditions but it gets cold out on the water esp up north.
posted by lasamana at 8:06 PM on May 21, 2014

Response by poster: See if you can find a proper chandler that caters to professional mariners.

Where would I find one? Any examples? I'm in the Boston area.
posted by danceswithlight at 8:16 PM on May 21, 2014

We used to use weightlifting gloves. You need layers that will keep you warm while being wet. So animal fibers, like wool, or polypropylene fleece. More than one, and preferably a windbreaker too, so you don't have to put your foulies on all the time. Castile soap that will suds in saltwater. Polarized sunglasses. Small lines, like paracord, to secure your stuff.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:21 PM on May 21, 2014

Sailing Gloves

Weight lifting gloves are generally a slightly more smooth leather, meaning that when a Sailing glove is wet you have a slightly better grip on a line. Have a line rip through your hand with no glove and you'll find out why you want a pair.
posted by Nanukthedog at 11:16 PM on May 21, 2014

Watch out for too-heavy foulies, they can be exausting to wear. What you wear under your foulies keeps you warm, your foulies act as a barrier against wind and water.

I would get two sets of gloves. One full fingered for when it's colder and one 3/4 finger for when it's warmer.
posted by vapidave at 7:00 AM on May 22, 2014

re: Night watches: waterproof, glow-in-the-dark wristwatch? small flashlight if you're sharing a cabin? wet wipes? Really, your best bet is to contact a former crew member.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:25 AM on May 22, 2014

salt water soap.
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 8:20 AM on May 22, 2014

How about these guys
posted by islander at 10:04 AM on May 22, 2014

Oh, and congratulations on your upcoming adventure - sounds like a fantastic way to spend a summer!
posted by islander at 10:06 AM on May 22, 2014

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