SPRING – March, April, May
People tend to picture sailors as always lying on the beach in a swimsuit with a coconut in one hand and a bottle of rum in the other. But depending on where you sail, you could encounter anything from hurricanes to icebergs. Most of our readers sail out of North America, so we will focus on typical weather conditions there.
In the spring, sailors can expect a good deal of rain and squally weather as the season shifts towards summer. Make sure to bring a good wind/rainproof jacket and a solid pair of waterproof boots. Take a few extra sweaters to wear under your foul weather gear on cool days, but don’t forget your sun protection for warmer days.
SUMMER – June, July, August
In the summer, you’ll want to dress to protect yourself from the sun reflecting off the water. Put on plenty of sunscreen and don’t forget to wear your sunhat and glasses. On warm days, wear shorts or a swimsuit, as well as an activewear shirt that can easily dry once wet. For your feet, wear sandals or go barefoot.
On the ocean, foul weather can hit any time of year, even at the height of summer. Don’t forget to bring your foul weather gear and waterproof boots in case rough weather comes up. It’s better to have it and not need it than the other way around.
FALL – September, October, November
Fall, like spring, is a time of changing weather patterns on the ocean. Oftentimes, the worst storms of the year hit not in the middle of winter but during the fall (or spring) equinox. So if you plan to sail in late fall, be ready for some potential extreme weather.
That said, fall can be a time of great beauty on the water and many areas experience a pleasant “Indian summer” through September and well into October. That’s why in the fall you’ll want to pack everything from your sunglasses to your drysuit, with plenty of layers for insulation. If the weather is cool but not quite bad enough for foul weather gear, wear waterproof pants and a windbreaker.
WINTER – December, January, February
Sailing in the wintertime is reserved for a hardy breed known as “frostbite sailors”. 95% of boat owners who live in temperate climates pack away their boats for the winter. But those who brave the storms and freezing temperatures may be rewarded with empty anchorages, Robinson-Crusoe-style islands, and winter bonfires on lonely beaches. For some, it’s the best time of year to sail.
If you plan to sail in the winter, make sure you are dressed for it. Start with a warm base layer and insulate with sweaters, a down jacket, and fleece pants. Cover up with offshore foul weather gear and protect your extremities with waterproof gloves and sailing boots.