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Fall/Winter - Wetsuits

Halfjack

Dad & Lad
I'm located in Texas, D/FW area, and have just started sailing. I plan to try to sail through the Fall/Winter season as much as possible and have some questions about temperatures and wetsuits. I'm doing this for the first time, and with my son, so I want to get the best input I can before I buy our first pair of wet suits!

1) As far as temperature per mm of wetsuit, I've gotten the following quotes of the ScubaToys.com forum. Are these guidelines appropriate for someone sailing?:
As for thickness, a rough guide is 80º and above = 3mm, 70º to 80º = 5mm, Below 70º = 7mm. You can always open up a wetsuit and let some water in if too warm, however, if you get cold, you won't enjoy the dive. And if you're going to dive 60º, you'll also want a hood and gloves. Booties too.

I have a 3 mil for temp above, about, 74-75 degrees.
I have a 5 mil for 65 up.
I have a 7 mil for 65 and below.
When it gets below 60 I start to wish I had a drysuit, but I do OK down to maybe 57 with only a little pain with the 7 mil.
2) How much does the water temperature change, or how much does it track air temperature? How cold will these TX lakes get when its 70 one day and 30 the next? Also, is air temp or water temp the bigger factor for how comfortable or miserable the sailor is?

3) How big of a difference is it between a full suit vs. a shorty worn with a long-sleeve wicking shirt (& jacket?)?

4) Any other first-timer pitfalls for buying and using the wetsuits?

All comments appreciated!:confused::D
 

mjbhawg

Member
I really think all you need is the 3mm, when I surfed I have the spring and full
3m, here in SC that was all I needed year round. We surfed year round and
had a few cold days. As for the sailing I haven't tried it except for Hobies many
years ago and I was younger. I am looking at other alternatives cause I really
hate the things and not looking forward to the restrictiveness of the suits. If my
ears hands and feet get cold I am done so I have that covered I hope.
 

mjbhawg

Member
I forgot to mention I did get the Rooster aqua fleese I will try that next week with a
rash guard and spring suit.
 

Hoffy

New Member
Halfjack, had to laugh (good heartedly) through your post for a couple of reasons. First, the advice from the dive shop guy is way off for sailing. I'd say his mm for certain temps are much thicker than you will want. Compare the two activities: diving is constant submersion in water, horizontal position, mild to moderate exertion with even breating. Sailing is mostly out of the water with possible submersion and some splashes of water, sitting, squatting, reaching, reaching with arms, mild to heavy exertion that can cause heavy breating.Second, I've sailed/windsurfed in WI, VT, and Cape Hatteras all my life and would love to have to deal with low temps in the 70's.

Advice: Don't go to a dive shop or a surf shop for your suit. Shop suits at windsurfing shops or websites. Reason--they are made for the aforementioned "mostly out of the water with possible submersion and some splashes of water, sitting, squatting, reaching, reaching with arms, mild to heavy exertion that can cause heavy breating" conditions. Most notably, the shoulders are crafted for reaching forward and the forearms are designed with the consideration that your forearms will swell with the gripping your sport demands.

I can't guess at your water temps, but you have to consider that with the air temp. Eventually you have to decide which suit will make you the most comfortable while on the boat, but keep you safe in the water for some given amount of time.

Other important consideration! Buy one with smoothskin--usually a thin black covering on the outside of the neoprene. Water will roll off this like off a duck's back and greatly reduce evaporative cooling present with a classic diving suit. (this feature also helps you choose a thinner mm)

Here's what I do given certain temps:

70 degrees air temp, 60 degrees or more water, windy: neoprene hiking pants, lifejacket under spray top; same wind and water temp, light wind: Tshirt over lifejacket, regular shorts (knowing I have to get my ass out of the water quick if I go in).

60 degrees air temp 60 degree water, I'll squeze my 3/2 mm shortie under the hiking pants and spray top--A calculated risk. Sailing in a fleet with other nearby this is most comfortable on the boat, limited protection in the water. Any temps below this and I put on my drysuit.

A first timer pitfall--wearing a suit that is too hot will dehydrate you incredibly quickly. Also, the thicker they are, the harder to move in them.

Shorty with a spray top or jacket over it would be Way warmer than a wicking shirt instead. The wicking shirt would hold enough water on your bare arms and neck to induce evaporative cooling.

Consider a suit that will becomfortable on the boat. Wear a winter cap to keep you warmer, take it off to cool down. Always though, ask yourself...how long could I end up in the water? It is up to you to calculate that risk. Lake Superior never gets over 45 degrees even in the summer and they say you have about 15 minutes in plainclothes.

Mjbhawg--you should be pleasantly surprised by wetsuits these days. Warmer, thinner, tailored to provide ease of movement. Way better than my first one in 1990. Another use for titanium! Some have flecks of the stuff in the neoprene to reflect body heat back to you.

A few good brands are Bare, Neilpryde, North...many others I just don't remember. One shop I trust is Inlandsea.com. Tell Phil that Hoffy sent you. Good luck. Do inform.
 

Halfjack

Dad & Lad
Thanks a lot!

That gives me enough to do a second round of online investigation at least...

I really appreciate any further recommendations in terms of online (or DFW) stores or specific brands/products.

:)
 

mjbhawg

Member
I was looking at a Ronstan farmerjohn on westcoast sailing and APS. I am sure
there are others but don't know
 

Krycek

Member
I have a 6/4 which is more than enough for me. I use it till about January when the water temp hits the 40's... then it's drysuit time. YaY Northeast sailing!!!!

For sailing in Texas I think a 3/2 will be perfect. If you're wearing the hot top from rooster you can even probably get away with a farmer john instead of a full wet suit. I personally would probably go with a shorty and spray top... but then again... I hate being too hot while sailing.
 

NormanSailor

New Member
Not sure I if should of made this a new topic or continue with Halfjack’s post? Anyway, I’m also looking to purchase a wetsuit or a dry suit. I am relatively new to sailing and would like to practice during the winter and fall months (bought my first laser about 3 months ago and love it!!). I know nothing about wetsuits or dry suits and don’t know where to being. I am located in Charlotte, NC and sail on Lake Norman. Unfortunately Charlotte doesn’t have a lot of sailing shops that sell wet or dry suits (or maybe I haven’t found them yet). Thus, I am forced to do my shopping/research online. There are a couple of scuba shops and kayaking shops around, but I don’t know if that kind of a wet or dry suit would apply to laser sailing. The water and air temperature data are as follows:

http://www.lakenormansweb.com/weather/temperature_water_2007.php
http://www.weather.com/weather/wxclimatology/monthly/graph/USNC0121?from=tenDay_bottomnav_undeclared

If it helps, I’m about 5’-8” and 140lbs and get cold relatively easily (southern blood). So my questions are:

1. Wetsuit or dry suit?
2. If a wetsuit, what thickness?
3. What type or brands would you guys recommend?
4. What websites would you guys recommend? Do any of the websites have good return policies? (If I were to order the wrong size could I easily return it for another size)
5. What does a 3/2 wetsuit mean? (a 3mm body and 2mm extremities?)
6. Should a wetsuit fit pretty snuggly?


Any help would be much appreciated.
 

mjbhawg

Member
Hoffy was right on it you go to a surfshop for surfing and vice versa for scuba. I have
bought outerware gloves boots jacket thru Intensity sails,APS, Colie sailing. I did a
lot of research advice from other sailors. But Normansailor we don't get that cold down
here I am just south of Myrtle Beach and we didn't really have a winterlast year. I would say a 3m wetsuit drysuits are out of my league and like Hoffy said wetsuits
have improved greatly.
 

hdco1313

New Member
+1 on Hoffy's comments.

Remember that a wetsuit works by heating the thin layer of water trapped between your skin and the suit. If you're not in the water, there is no layer. And while peeing in your suit feels great when you're surfing, it would get pretty rank on your Laser!

Also, for me the biggest improvement in wetsuit technology has been the microfleece lining. If you do wear a wetsuit for sailing, highly recommend getting one with this lining. I love the Zhik stuff though it seems to be 50% more expensive than anything else out there. Still, after using their microfleece shorts for a season now, there is no visible wear so it seems that it will last you awhile.

Check size carefully on the Zhik products as some run smaller than others.

And buy a Bottleport so you can carry hot coffee in a travel mug in your Laser http://bottleport.com
 

hdco1313

New Member
Check size carefully on the Zhik products as some run smaller than others.
Should note that I didn't mean to imply poor quality control from Zhik here. Their quality if great. They intentionally fit some items tighter than others. The Skiff Suit, for example, is quite snug in the size that you would normally order. Zhik says that people who use it primarily for racing prefer it that way and suggest that for an easier all-around fit, get a size up.
 

hdco1313

New Member
Check size carefully on the Zhik products as some run smaller than others.
Should note that I didn't mean to imply poor quality control from Zhik here. Their quality is great. They intentionally fit some items tighter than others. The Skiff Suit, for example, is quite snug in the size that you would normally order. Zhik says that people who use it primarily for racing prefer it that way and suggest that for an easier all-around fit, get a size up.
 

Hoffy

New Member
Should note that I didn't mean to imply poor quality control from Zhik here. Their quality is great. They intentionally fit some items tighter than others. The Skiff Suit, for example, is quite snug in the size that you would normally order. Zhik says that people who use it primarily for racing prefer it that way and suggest that for an easier all-around fit, get a size up.
hdco is there an echo in here? Sent this twice and thought I'd send it off one more time for good measure.

yes 3/2 means 3 mil in the body 2 mil on the extremes. same if you see 5/3 or 5/4 etch.

As far as sizing, be honest about the sizing charts attached to the link. They are very good. I haven't bought anything the wrong size in awhile if I stick to that stuff and think about it.

As far as choosing. I own a 3/2 smoothskin shortie and a drysuit. A full suit in between would be nice, but I prefer the shortie until I just can't stay warm. Windsurfing this is a calculated risk, I don't fall much, but a breakdown would put me in trouble. Same thoughts with lasers, I'm not in much and can right it fast, but if I couldn't I'd be in a spot of trouble.

Yes, snug is good. baggy is bad. Envision yourself in after a capsize. Snug means a thin layer of water stays in and warm with no extra weight. Baggy means water exchanges easily, gets colder, and weighs more.
 

Halfjack

Dad & Lad
Update:

I got myself a farmer john with a long sleeve underarmor shirt, 3-finger gloves, and neoprene socks.

The weather's been friendly and I've tried it twice so far in nice warm water (59, 54 degrees F).

Now the lake waters starting to chill down to lower 50/mid-40's, so when I get a nice weather day I'll try again. Eventually, I'll add a neoprene helmet liner (shaved head), but after that I'll stop when/if it gets too cold.

More later!
 

hdco1313

New Member
@Hoffy--Just saw your post. Something I didn't factor in trying on the sizes is that loosen up when wet. So yes, I probably should have gotten the next one down.

@Halfjack--Sounds like a good combo. Here's something else to throw in the mix. I bought some West Marine Equator bibs, on sale now for about $80, to use on a bigger boat that I crew on. I used them on the Laser yesterday with a waterproof shell over the top and Patagonia capilene underneath and they were great! Stayed totally dry inside, even at the ankles. Might be another way to go, but definitely not as good if you capsize as your underlayers will be wet (but with modern fabrics, they will still retain their capacity to keep you warm) and if the water is really cold, won't keep you warm like a wetsuit.

Still, it was new experience to sail a Laser and stay totally dry inside without the use of a drysuit. These particular bibs are 3-layer waterproof breathable fabric with good reinforcement on knees and butt. Three layer means that there is just one piece of fabric...no nylon liner.
 
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