By definition, sailing is a journey on a ship or yacht, an activity on the water that guarantees an enjoyable experience. Simply put, you can describe sailing however you want; it's essentially a word that says it all and needs no further explanation.
There are many lessons to be learned from the sea. However, a good sailing experience also requires specific equipment. Essentials often include a quality sailing jacket, summer clothing and deck shoes - the usual yachting attire. So, all in all, clothes and shoes that are suitable for wet conditions and will protect you from the wind and the sea.
However, sailing clothes must be durable and suitable for sailing. Having the right gear is crucial for an enjoyable sailing trip.
Why is that? Imagine being constantly bashed by the wind or splashed by the sea while scorched by the sun. That does not sound like much fun. Cervantes said being prepared is half the victory. And it is.
The bare essentials: basic gear for sailing
There is a long list of sailing gear that is necessary for a good sailing trip. In addition to foul weather sailing gear and clothing, there is also safety and navigation equipment and tools. Together with sailing accessories, you can form a perfect, fully equipped sailing expedition. Some things are already present or mandatory on a yacht, such as safety equipment, but let us see what will make your sailing vacation complete:
Foul weather sailing gear implies special clothing and equipment designed to protect sailors from the elements at sea. This includes waterproof and breathable jackets and trousers, gloves, shoes and hats designed to withstand wind, rain and waves. Sailing gloves, for example, also protect hands from rope burns and blisters.
Foul weather sailing gear is usually made of durable materials such as Gore-Tex or neoprene that provide protection while allowing moisture to escape to prevent overheating and sweating. The equipment is designed to be comfortable and flexible, allowing for freedom of movement and efficiency in all weather conditions.
Deck shoes also known as boat shoes or yacht shoes, are footwear designed to provide support and protection to the wearer while on a boat or sailing. They are an essential piece of sailing equipment as they help prevent slips and falls on the wet and often slippery surfaces of a yacht's deck.
Deck shoes are typically made of durable leather, canvas or synthetic fabrics, designed to be water-resistant or waterproof to keep the wearer's feet dry. They feature a slip-resistant sole that provides excellent grip on wet surfaces. Many models have soles that increase traction on wet surfaces and provide a better grip on the deck.
Waterproof bag is not just any bag; it's crucial for keeping your personal items dry. A waterproof sail bag is a type of bag that protects its contents from water damage.
It’s usually made from waterproof materials such as PVC or nylon, which repel water and prevent it from entering the bag and damaging its contents. Some sail bags are also designed to be buoyant, so they will not sink if they accidentally go overboard. They are helpful and a great and practical accessory on dry land.
Good to know: main safety and rescue equipment
Safety and rescue equipment is an essential part of sailing gear as it helps keep you safe and prepared for emergencies at sea. Here are some of the most common boating safety and rescue equipment used when sailing:
Life raft: inflatable device that can be used in an emergency when you need to abandon the vessel. The life raft is usually kept in a container on deck and is designed to be highly visible; some models are even equipped with survival equipment.
Flare: pyrotechnic signalling device used to alert rescue services and other boats to an emergency. Usually are brightly coloured and have a limited burn time, making them highly visible and attracting attention.
Emergency beacon: a device used to transmit a distress signal via satellite technology to provide accurate location information to rescue services in the event of an emergency.
First Aid Kit: essential sailing gear that can be used to treat injuries and medical emergencies at sea. A well-stocked first aid kit should contain at least bandages, pain relievers, and other items that can be used to treat basic ailments.
Life ring: also known as a buoyant throwable device, is intended to be thrown to a person who has fallen overboard or is in distress in the water. They are usually brightly coloured and have reflective tape or other visibility-enhancing features to make them easy to spot in the water.
Importance of a personal flotation device (PFD) AKA life jacket
A personal flotation device (PFD), commonly known as a life jacket, is a piece of crucial safety equipment for anyone who spends time on the water. A life jacket is designed to keep a person afloat in the water, even if unconscious or injured, in case of an accident.
It's recommended to always wear them when at sea, regardless of experience. Even experienced sailors can be caught off guard by unexpected weather or situations, and wearing a life jacket can provide extra protection in an emergency. Remember that children, no matter how good swimmers they may be, should wear them at all times.
Technical side of the sailing gear: navigation tools and devices
As the name implies, navigation tools and devices help you navigate safely and accurately. The most common navigation tools used in sailing are the good old compass and the nautical charts. Additional equipment includes items such as navigation lights, which indicate the yacht's position at night and are essential for safety. Other essential sailing gear for navigation includes nautical charts, chart plotters, GPS and radio.
Nautical charts are detailed maps of waterways that you can use to plan a route and navigate safely. These maps contain information about depth, currents, potential hazards, and other navigational features. They can be either paper ones or in a more modern, digital form.
Chart plotter is an electronic device that displays a vessel's position on a digital chart. Chart plotters can be integrated into a device from GPS and provide real-time information on position and heading, as well as other navigational features such as depth and water temperature.
GPS device is a navigation tool which uses satellite technology to determine the location and track the vessel's path. GPS devices can provide real-time information about speed and course and facilitate route planning.
Marine radios are used to communicate with other boats and the Coast Guard. They are essential for safety and can provide a lifeline in an emergency.
Some items considered basic necessities can also be included in the essential sailing gear; things such as sunglasses, hats, insect repellents, and sunscreen.
However, sunscreen is vital to protect your skin from UV rays and sunburn. The sun's rays are stronger on the water, so choosing a sunscreen with a high SPF is essential and reapply it regularly, especially after swimming.
Suppose you plan an extended holiday or a trip to remote areas to sail to barely discovered places in the Croatian Adriatic. In that case, you should introduce yourself with your sailing gear in advance because those are the things you will depend on for an eventful and safe journey.