The autumnal weather has truly crept up onto us this year and before we know it, it will be winter. With shock weather warnings that Britain may be facing the coldest winter for 50 years, the question is can you still sail in this weather? Whether you choose to believe the weather claims or not, if you do continue sailing through the winter months you need to prepare for the extreme weather conditions you may face, keep yourself warm and most importantly stay safe. Marinas can end up looking like a ghost town during the winter months, but if you're a hardy sole and can't say goodbye to sailing in the winter make sure you read our top tips for sailing in the winter. As the saying goes, if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail...
Winter Sailing Gear
Being out on the water can be cold during the whole year as you're exposed to all the elements. But keeping warm at sea during the winter is more important than ever, as if you get wet and cold it can quickly lead to hypothermia which in most cases is fatal. If you choose to sail at the coldest time of the year you do need to look into investing in oilskins & wet suits which can be worn beneath other clothes. We would also recommend wearing ski gear which is great for winter sailing, salopettes under waterproof trousers, thermals and a top base and mid layer work well underneath a jacket. The key to keeping warm is layering effectively and keeping spare clothes on-board ready for every eventuality.
Whether your boats going into storage for the winter or you'll continue to go on winter sailing trips you need to ensure that your boat is well equipped and set for the cold weather that you could face. If there are already leaks or cracks on your boat, this will be intensified by cold weather so it's best to get it sorted in Autumn where a repair job won't cost as much as it could potentially cost further down the line. Now is the time to tackle your biggest issues, which is repairing leaks, changing faulty pumps/switches and sealing up any cracks that may be lurking about. It's best to do a thorough inspection at the start and end of the season. If your boat is in storage for the winter we would really recommend reading the book 100 Fast & Easy Boat Improvements, which contains lots of ideas to keep you busy during the winter and to make better improvements to your boat that you can enjoy in the summer season.
Prepare For Changes In Weather
Boating in the winter can be risky business regardless to your skill at sea. Weather is more open to short term changes and if there was the eventuality of a man overboard there would be a small chance of survival. Firstly, you must always ensure you are prepared with the correct clothing as discussed above, and you should always wear a life jacket. Before heading out for a trip careful attention should be made to checking the weather and tides. This can be done by thermometers, barometers and checking your local weather station. Whilst at sea you should ensure you always have one of these with you as a barometer can help predict short term changes in weather which could be the difference between getting out of a life threatening situation at sea. As always use your common sense, if there's a storm brewing or it's a foggy day it's best to stay at home and save your trip for another day.
Whether you're heading out for a short journey or you're undertaking an Atlantic crossing you should always have some kind of support on shore that can keep you informed on changes in weather, and provide help as and when needed. Logistics support will give you a peace of mind knowing that there is help available if needed and it will make life on the boat much easier.
Despite the risks that are apparent when sailing in the winter, it can be a tranquil and breathtaking experience that offers something completely different to summer sailing. Whether you plan to keep your boat in storage this year or sail to your hearts content, be safe and follow the above tips and your trip will be plain sailing the whole way! Do you have any other tips for sailing in the winter? For all future blogs on sailing, keep an eye on the Seachest Facebook page, our Twitter or at Google+.