Monday, 2 February 2015

No women at sea

A friend once told us, “There are no women at sea, only sailors of different sizes.”  I quite like this idea and for the most part find it to be true.  Where it is decidedly not true for me is in the sizes of foul weather gear.

When I bought my first set of foulies, we had just started sailing and we weren't willing to shell out a lot of money.  The cheap versions were made of heavy pvc, great for keeping water out, but also great for keeping water in; e.g., not at all breathable and any sweat that formed between you and the pvc stayed and stewed…and then froze.  They also only came in Men’s small, medium, and large.  Even the smallest of these was too big for me and we eventually found something suitable in the “boys” department.

After a short time, we realized that comfort at sea is what makes or breaks many sailing projects, especially in our latitudes where even summer sailing requires foul weather gear much of the time.  We broke down and shelled out for some good foul weather gear adapted specifically for sailing.  Still, we didn't aim for the top of the line, since most of our sailing is done in “la belle saison” from May to October with only the occasional night passage.  While our XM offshore gear was light years ahead of the old pvc versions in terms of comfort and breathability, they still only came in Men’s sizes. 

Trying to work in wet, windy conditions with a vest that is way too large gets tiring fast.

I chose “extra-small” and was still swamped by the large fit.  One can argue, as I did, that it’s good to have room to add layers.  But after awhile I found that trying to move around in all that extra material was needlessly tiring, so much so that I stopped wearing my foul weather gear except in the most extreme circumstances and instead would pull on my light-weight Gore Tex hiking jacket over some polar fleece, which worked beautifully until things got really wet.

While I was in Florida last week visiting family, Patrick announced out-of-the-blue that he had sold his foul weather gear and bought himself a Henri Lloyd Gore Tex jacket that was on sale (-55% !).  Of course they didn’t have anything in my size, but that didn’t stop him from selling my foul weather gear as well.     

Patrick's new Henri Lloyd Freedom Jacket

This time, I knew that a non-negotiable element for me would be finding something made for women.  Over the years, I have been forced to accept that I am not a small man.  All that excess material around the arms, shoulders and torso have to be eliminated.  Several years ago, I tried on a women’s top-of-the-line Musto jacket and was in heaven.  With a $600 price tag, I quickly removed the heavenly jacket and put it gently back on the rack.  But I always remembered that fit and feel.

I’m still not willing to pay that kind of money unless we are going to cross whole oceans, but I am doing (perhaps) the next best thing.  I found a women’s Musto jacket on sale (the 2014 BR2 model) and it has everything I want except Gore Tex.  It is made from a similar textile for water resistance and breathability, though, and for less than half the price of the Gore Tex variety, I’m willing to give it a try. 

My new Women's Musto BR2 Jacket

Who knows?  Maybe once I’m warm, dry, and comfortable I can get back to the business of being just a small sailor again.

Post-script:  Doh !!  The Musto jacket is ENORMOUS despite my careful attention to the sizing chart.  Back to the store with this one.  And of course, they don't have anything smaller...


Astrolabe Sailing said...

Flash new gear! They say there is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing! Good wet weather gear certainly makes sailing in the rain and cold much more enjoyable. It is going to look great on the new boat! :)

Anonymous said...

I got fleece lined outdoor work wear and its been pretty good so far - £40 the lot