Yacht Equipment, sailing and watersports chandlery

Yacht Equipment, 71 / 73 Main Road, Danbury, Essex. CM3 4DJ.   Tel: 01245 223563  

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What to wear - dinghy sailing

What to wear guide - dinghy sailing


  1. Safety first - Lifejacket or Buoyancy aid?
  2. Keeping warm and dry
  3. Footwear
  4. Accessories


1) Safety first!

You will need either a Lifejacket or Buoyancy aid.

Why do I need a Lifejacket or Buoyancy aid?

Splash buoyancy aidAlthough you may be a good swimmer, the water round the British coast and Estuaries can be very cold and with very strong under-currents. This will all effect your ability to swim and to get yourself back to your boat. You may be in the water for some time - especially if you have to correct a capsized dinghy.


Spiral junior inflated life jacketWhat is the difference?

A Lifejacket will support you completely whilst in the water with a collar that will keep your face out of the water. A Buoyancy aid is an aid to swimming and will give you some buoyancy to assist you in the water.

so which one do I need - Lifejacket or Buoyancy aid?

Young children and adults that cannot swim must wear a Lifejacket. Older children and adults that can swim usually wear Buoyancy aids for dinghy sailing, because these enable you to be more manouverable in a small boat.

Lifejackets for children:

We advise that children (especially young children) wear a Lifejacket with permanent buoyancy. This is as opposed to the type that is inflatable (either manually inflated by pulling a cord, or automatically inflated as you hit the water) that are often worn by adults on larger boats.
Not just on the boat - small children should also wear their lifejackets near the water on jetties, slipways and towpaths. Wherever there is a chance that they could fall in!

Never get a lifejacket or buoyancy aid too large for a child!

Never be tempted to buy a lifejacket or buoyancy aid for a child that is too large for them and you think they will grow into. If a lifejacket or buoyancy aid is too large and your child falls into the water, as they hit the water it will rise up. A loose fitting lifejacket or buoyancy aid could rise up over their head and also trap the arms. In this case the child would not be even able to try to swim.

Always buy a correctly fitting lifejacket or buoyancy aid!

We sell the following Lifejackets suitable for dinghy sailing:

Lifejackets for children:

  • For babies - Crewsaver Euro 100N or Spiral 100N
  • For children - Crewsaver Euro 100N or Spiral 100N
  • For junior - Crewsaver Euro 100N or Spiral 100N

Lifejackets for adults:

  • Lifejackets with permanent buoyancy - Helly Hensen in shop or to order

We sell the following Buoyancy aids suitable for dinghy sailing:

Buoyancy aids for older children:

  • For junior - Crewsaver Splash 50N or Crewsaver Max 50N (high cut - for trapeze)

Buoyancy aids for adults:

  • Crewsaver DB60, Helly Hansen Sport II, HH Rider Vest, Crewsaver Max (high cut).

Click here to view Lifejackets and Buoyancy aids in the on-line shop


2. Keeping warm and dry:

Dinghy sailor wearing MustoKeeping warm whilst sailing will keep you comfortable. Wind is stronger at sea than on land (even in an Estuary) so you will feel the chill much more. Spray coming up from the water will add to this effect.

Of course the time of year and weather conditions will affect your clothing choices as well as how active you will need to be in the garment and personal preference. All important too - footwear and gloves are detailed in sections 3 and 4.

Very warm weather - shorts, quick drying rash vest and a hat (with a clip to stop the wind blowing it away). Remember your sun-cream!

Warm with a wind chill - as above, or you may wish to wear a Spring wetsuit (shortie) instead that will give you some body insulation but leave arms and legs exposed. Add to this light weight waterproofs / cag top (these can be removed if need be) but will keep the wind and spray off you.

Cold weather - full or convertible wetsuit for full insulating effect. Rash vest or quick drying top and light weight waterproofs. Or you could opt for a dry suit with a warm under-layer. You will also need a warm hat.

Never wear jeans dinghy sailing!
Jeans can become heavy when wet and leach warmth away from the body exceptionally quickly, so a capsize wearing jeans could become extremely dangerous.

Lady dinghy sailor wearing MustoHow a wetsuit works:
Wetsuits are designed to trap a small amount of water between the neoprene of the wetsuit and your skin. Your body temperature warms this layer of water up and it has an insulating effect. If the wetsuit is too loose, cold water will seep in and keep replacing the nicely warmed up insulating layer, so when choosing your wetsuit you need to make sure it is fairly tight - but not so tight it is uncomforatable!

How a dry suit works:
A correctly fitting dry suit will seal in air and prevent water entering the suit. A layer of air is trapped between your body the waterproof outer creating an insulating effect. You can wear under-layers beneath your drysuit to add to this insulating effect.

We sell a large range of clothing for dinghy sailing suitable for various weather conditions:

Bikini's and swimming shorts from Helly Hansen - click here

Rash vests for adults and children from O'Neill and Musto - click here

UV protecting suits and wetsuits for toddlers - click here

Light weight waterproofs from Crewsaver and White Rock - click here

Shortie wetsuits from O'Neill and CSR - click here

Full and convertible wetsuits from O'Neill and CSR - click here

Dry suits from Musto - click here

Or simply browse the Dinghy clothing section in the on-line shop.


3) Footwear

The footwear you choose will depend upon the weather conditions, the kind of jettie, beach or ramp you are launching off and personal preference.

You will need footwear you can get wet, that has a good grip, that isn't too cumbersome and will keep you warm enough for the weather you are sailing in.

Crewsaver Sports Boot Neoprene boots are the most popular footwear with dinghy sailors. Will act the same way as a wet suit, when they get wet the water will warm up and keep your feet insulated. Also boot style will keep out shingle and stone. Go for the more substantial styles if you are launching from a very stony area (the soles are thicker).

Longer sailing boots - although sometimes worn, not ideal for a dinghy as they are cumbersome and difficult to swim in.

Footwear suitable for Dinghy sailing :

Neoprene footwear:

  • Basic Neoprene shoe and Granite shoe from toddlers through to adult sizes
  • Neoprene boots - Mission boot, Ultra boot Basalt Boot and Zircon boot. Each a bit more substantial, coming higher up the leg and with thicker sole.

click here to view Neoprene footwear in the on-line shop

4) Accessories


Musto glovesGloves are needed when handling rope, especially with wet hands. They are used for protection, better grip and to keep your hands warm. They need to be tough (leather or kevlar are popular) and fingerless so you can still use your fingers to cleat / uncleat rope. For cold weather go for the 3 fingered versions.

Click here to view our gloves on line.


Woolly hatClip on hatEither a warm woolly hat for cold weather or a hat with a shade that can clip on to your clothing for hot weather. So many sailors lose their hats in the wind!

See our hat's on-line - click here.

Wet glasses

Dirty Dog wet glassSunglasses designed for use on the water have frames that let water flow out, hydrophobic lenses that bead away water, head band so they don't fall off and other sports features.

See our Dirty Dog wet glasses - click here.

We also sell head bands separately for keeping glasses on when active.

Dry cases for your mobiles phone

When taking your mobile phone with you, you will need to protect this in a watertight container in case of a capsize. We sell the Musto Micro Comms Case, Comms Case and Crewsaver's Dry Case.

Click here to find dry cases on-line.


Musto Carryall bagDon't forget you'll need a carry bag to get all this gear to the club and take the wet stuff home. Our dinghy sailors favourite is the Musto Carryall bag. See the Carryall bag on line - click here.


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