Never sailed before, some questions


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Thread starter #1
Hello, I'm Jess.

I have never sailed before but I do plan on taking a course this summer to get my White Sail I/II certification as they call it here in Canada. My dad completed the course afew years ago and got me interested in the sport.

- Would I get seasick from sailing? I have had moderate problems with motion sickness in the past, but mostly from plane rides and cruise ships. I do not want to use any medications as they seem to make me drowsy (not safe for sailing).

- Here in the Pacific Northwest where I live, water temperatures are relatively constant and about 22 degrees C give or take on a warm day in July. I plan on doing my course in July. My dad told me that when he was learning to right a capsized boat, his training partner started shivering after righting the boat and getting back on. The water may seem warm, but throw in windchill and the fact that water is a good conductor of heat and wearing wet clothing and you'll see what I mean. I bought a pair of "sailing pants" from a second hand store that I thought would be good. They're not really labelled for sailing but they're tough "outdoorsy" type nylon pants that I thought would be good for sailing.

Hi Jess, EXTREMELY UNLIKELY that you will suffer sea/motion sickness when dinghy sailing. Probably due to the type of motion and also due to the fact that you will be mentally and physically active when dinghy sailing which will eliminate feelings of sickness.

ref clothing recommend you contact your sailing school who will make recommendations relating to your local conditions.

Hope this helps (enjoy your training!)
Motion sickness is hard to determine for everyone.

I will say that I am prone to getting motion sickness, in backs of cars, buses and larger boats and especially any amusement park ride that spins, but have never had trouble in a Sunfish.

I have never heard of anyone getting motion sick going swimming and sailing a Sunfish is similar in that you are right next to the water and can anticipate almost every motion when you are the captain.

As far as getting cold is concerned, you just need to dress properly. Sounds like you are on your way although others might advise.

Lastly, if you are busy hanging on for your life in strong winds that sort of cancels out all other feelings of discomfort.:D That is what makes it fun for me.
Hello, I'm Jess.

- Here in the Pacific Northwest where I live, water temperatures are relatively constant and about 22 degrees C give or take on a warm day in July. I plan on doing my course in July. My dad told me that when he was learning to right a capsized boat, his training partner started shivering after righting the boat and getting back on. The water may seem warm, but throw in windchill and the fact that water is a good conductor of heat and wearing wet clothing and you'll see what I mean.
That is about 71 deg F. Not bad in the short term, but certainly cold enough to kill in the long term.

You would probably need a wetsuit of some sort. There are shorty versions, and they come in various thicknesses. Also a skinsuit is a tight fitting swimsuit that covers your whole body. I often wear this under other clothing. If I had to guess I'd say a skin suit under a short wetsuit would probably work for you. Much of this depends on how big you are. A bigger person can handle the cold better.


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Thread starter #5
The thing is, I don't fit into a wetsuit because of my odd size (no, I cannot just wear a shorty because I am really concerned about sun exposure and I am allergic to sunscreen lotion). Which is why I decided on "outdoorsy"/camping/hiking type clothing.

I'm a midget, bit more than 5'1 not quite 5'2 but pushing 145 lbs. About a size 14 or XL (petite). I'm short and abit chubby which is the problem (before you laugh at my weight/size, I'm a martial artist so probably built up abit of muscle mass too). Most of the suits I found and tried on at local sports/dive shops are designed for someone 5'4 and up. Kids/junior ones are the right length, but too tight. Most of the stores said custom would be the way to go, but it's not going to be cheap. I know two online companies make petite sizes but only if I'm willing to spend atleast $350.

When I used to SCUBA dive, I ended up rolling up my suit sleeves/legs because they were too long. In the end, I just ended up getting really cold and it was uncomfortable.

As for the motion sickness issue, I have swam in oceans and been kayaking and even SCUBA diving. Never got sick from either of those. Car rides, long bus rides, train rides (long distance Amtrak type), and motorboats all make me sick.
I always get motion sickness when driving or when im in bigger boats but i have never had a problem sailing dinghys.

where in canada are you from? in vancouver the weather is already warm enough for me to ware board shorts and a t-shirt


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Thread starter #7
I'm from BC too (won't say where though). I saw a lot of people wearing shorts/t-shirts at sailing lessons but it's probably because the've sailed for long enough to be used to the cold water.

I've lived in BC all my life and I've always found the water on the cold side.



When I took lessons on a big boat (J24), the instructor said that if anyone felt sea sick, the solution was to skipper. Something about being in control of the boat resolves the problem. I'd recommend polyester technical clothing for you. Sweat pants are good because if you are hot, you can pull them up to make shorts and the elastic at the ankle will keep the pant legs wherever you want them. Also, we don't laugh at people on TLF unless they are laughing at themselves.

I agree. I always get seasick on other people's boats, but never when I skipper my own. OK, maybe once in a long distance race off cape cod--hours and hours of rolling swells and light wind.

I also get carsick when my husband drives, but not when I'm at the wheel...
Thread starter #10
The boats I'll be learning on are 1-2 person boats. The instructor may just go with one person per boat to make things simpler.

Just wondering, is it really uncomfortable sitting on the sailboat with water soaked clothing after capsizing and righting the boat? We don't get to choose whether we do that at the beginning, middle or end of the lesson. The thing with sweatpants/sweatshirts is that they get really heavy when they're soaked.


Member Emeritus
You are thinking of cotton sweatpants and shirts. Polyester isn't nearly as heavy when it's wet and dries quickly. Take along a windbreaker.
Another good fabric is "polypro", polypropylene...

"Fleece" is one variety of this sports fabric, soft & fuzzy, it's can ventilate when it's warm, but most importantly, it retains body heat like wool when wet, but at 1/10th the fabric weight. It dries very quickly, holding the body's warmth in a dry air layer near the skin as it does. Popular in many sports as the insulating layer in a layered clothing system, it also stands alone quite well.

There are other polypro fabrics used for shorts and shirts and the like. They too dry quickly without sucking away precious body heat like cotton does. The word in sports..., skiing, kayaking, sailing, biking, hiking, is "cotton kills"..., by promoting hyperthermia. Polypro wicks moisture away from the skin without lowering the body's temperature.

Cold Weather Clothing - article from SailNet

Given the depth of experience you have in other sports and your level of awareness about yourself, with a little wise preparation based on the inputs you've received and what your instructor may have to add, it sounds like you are ready to...., just do it.

I think you are worried unnecessarily.

Here's a little secret that the California Tourism Board does not want you to know... The water off our Pacific coast almost *never* warms up above 65.. maybe a very rare 70 degrees Fahrenheit (18-20 C). I still sail almost year-round in shorts or a bathing suit... and foul weather gear if I'm going to be out over night. Dress for the wind temperature, not the water temperature.

Also, having spent many years teaching sailing to kids and adults, I can tell you that there's a real possibility that you'll get wet, the instructor's goal is to make this as pleasant an experience for you as he can. This does not (usually) include drowning, heat stroke, or hypothermia.

As for motion sickness, I've been in ocean conditions that would scare any sane individual, and I can tell you, anyone that says they haven't gotten sea-sick, just hasn't yet. On the other hand, those aren't the conditions that sailing classes are held in. Sailing a small sailboat carries about as much risk of motion sickness as riding a bicycle, and far less than driving in a car.

Use lots of sunscreen (not a lot of trees to hide under on the water), take a sweatshirt, and throw a dry shirt and shorts into the car to change into later - weather you flip or not, you'll probably be at least as wet as you would be if you sat on a wet park bench for 1/2 hour or so. Stop worrying and have fun! If you're still concerned, go the day (or week) before and talk to people that are coming off the water, and I'm betting that none will be talking about being cold or sick.

If you still want something to worry about, worry about how much more you could have done with your life with all the time you'll end up spending sailing after you're hooked... how many languages you could have learned, the medical and law degrees you could have earned to help people in need, the money you could have made investing it wisely instead of buying new sails and blocks and cleats and gloves and watches that 'beep' and sunglasses that don't float... You could have made something with your life, instead of choosing to sail. Welcome to the dark side.

( my $.02... it's about all that's left :) )
In paddling sports, they suggest that if the combined air and water is below 120 degrees F, you should wear a wetsuit. In waterskiing, they say 100 degrees F.
But those are intentional water contact sports. When I'm sailing and/or teaching sailing, I don't expect students to actually be in the water, and if they are, I certainly don't expect them to stay in the water for long.

I'm not trying to be argumentative, but all this collective, well-intentioned, good advice for staying warm seems only to reinforce Jess' concerns about learning to sail on a July day on 72 degree water. I do have wetsuits and I will wear one year-round for surfing. I even have a dry suit that I have worn a time or two while (January) wakeboarding. I hate cold water.

Sailing classes are generally in a pretty controlled environment. For kids, we even require that they start with a swim test, and no one ever does that with more than a bathing suit. Unless you are related to the Wicked Witch of whichever direction that was, the worst that's going to happen is you'll get wet --and then you'll dry, and you probably won't even shrink... unless of course you tumble dry on a High Heat setting.

I'm curious though, how many of you routinely sail your local water on a typical summer afternoon in a wetsuit or other "cold weather" gear? And of those of you that do, how long have you lived in San Francisco? ;)

"The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco."

"The Bay doesn't blow, the Valley sucks."


If the water is 72 degrees on a warm July day, wear your shorts and T-shirt, barefoot, and have a cold one when you get on shore. 22 C was lost on me.:eek: