In my last blog “Getting ready to learn to sail”, I agonised over what to wear as I butted up against conflicting mindsets. Here’s an excerpt:
I kid you not, I’ve read the ‘What to Wear’ List from the sailing website and even went out and bought some quick drying synthetic track pants so if I get hit by a big wave, at least I’ll dry out before hitting the deck.
Trouble is, as comforted as I am that I’ve got super fast drying pants, I hate how I look in them. They’re tight where they’re not meant to be, baggy enough to make me look as if I’ve gained 5Kg/10lb, and have a stupid white stripe down the outside making me feel like some fat, frumpy footballer-come-chav!
I had looked to Baz for ideas, but his usual minimalist packing had him taking the bare essentials which pretty much worked for him. Asking him this
morning whether he would have taken anything else on the boat, he said, “An extra pair of socks would have been good.”
“Yes, definitely. For all of us.” I grimaced.
We both belly laughed at that comment as I screwed up my face remembering the stench of one pair of socks continuously worn; wet, dried, wet, dried...
Day-times were okay, but night-times, isolated in the small forward cabin with those socks was enough to make my eyes water. I wouldn’t be surprised if my capacity to smell has been deadened somewhat after that experience.
So how did I get on with those tracky dacks (Australian slang for tracksuit pants)?
I bloody loved ‘em!
It is still winter in the northern hemisphere during February and while days were often sunny and fairly warm in Gibraltar, once we were sailing there was a wind chill factor that prohibited shorts and had us all wearing a couple of layers of clothing most days. After our very first day-long passage where we encountered unexpected rain and Force 6 (22-27 knots) gusts of wind, we were all glad of our wet weather gear (‘foulies’ – another Aussie slang term that I love). I did notice that even though our foulies kept us dry most of the time, water did creep in at the edges – ankles, wrists, neck – and clothing underneath ended up damp by the end of the passage.
If I’d worn jeans, they still would have been damp the next day, but my tracky dacks, with their gaudy white stripe down the side, not only kept me warm, but were comfy and also dried out completely overnight.
I wore those tracksuit pants every day. #ilovemytrackydacks
During the first week while completing the Competent Crew Course with Rock Sailing, we sailed to Ceuta which is Spanish territory on mainland Africa, opposite Gibraltar over the Gibraltar Straights. When we arrived, our remarkably patient Instructor/Skipper Mareike Grigo and other Competent Crew member Dan decided to check out the 15th Century city walls before heading to a restaurant that came highly recommended.
About five minutes after we left the marina, the heavens opened and sheets of rain pelted us until we were soaked through. The restaurant was a good 15 minutes walk from the Moorish walls, so we headed back towards the marina and tumbled into a nearby noodle bar. After a super tasty and filling meal, we returned to Rockefeller (our 36 foot Jeanneau Sun Odyssey) and stripped out of our soppy clothes. The saloon was quickly transformed into a laundry and thanks to our little fan heater (and shore power), down below was soon warm and cozy. The next morning all the cabin ceilings were dripping with condensation (“eww”) but our clothes were dry.
Especially my tracksuit bottoms. I stepped into those black pants with all the glee of a sailor returning to their home port after a storm at sea.
Me and my tracky dacks shared the next 2 weeks like two old buddies. They were soft on my skin, stretched as I crawled along side decks during bouncy seas and, coupled with my long sleeved tees, hoody (I’ll let you guess what that is - https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=hoody), weathered white trainers and rainbow woolly hat knitted by work colleague Gillian, I sauntered along marina berths feeling like a salty old sea dog.
Yes, during summer in the Mediterranean I’ll be wearing shorts and tees, but during that two week intensive course where we met all kinds of weather, I’m glad I let go of my fashion hang-ups and wore my tracksuit pants.
Why do I worry?
Worrying what to wear is something I do when I don’t feel confident going into a new situation. Before attending the course, I’d wanted to ‘feel right’, and the best way for me to do that was to 'dress right’. After learning to sail, I feel cool inside and confident in my increasing abilities knowing that with practice, what I’ve learned will get stronger.
After all, sailing isn’t necessarily a fashion statement – although for some, I know that is all sailing’s about.
Sailing for me is about sensing the wind in my face as we race through the waves; the exhilaration of sweating the halyard at the mast to reef during Force 7 winds; feeling muscles protest as I winch in the mainsail before a gybe; sharing experiences with fellow crew over a beer; and grinning with pride at other sailors I meet on my way to the shower block after an invigorating day’s sail.
What have I learned about clothes for sailing?
Looking good on the outside is one thing. Feeling great inside regardless of outward appearances is something else entirely!