How to protect yourself from the Sun whilst Sailing

2,650 views  |   July 9th, 2020 

Quick Guide for Sailors.

We all love a good dose of Vitamin D, but with extra exposure from water reflection it’s especially important to make sure we protect ourselves from the sun whilst sailing. Wind chill and sea spray make it easy to underestimate how much exposure you’re actually getting. This is especially true when sailing on the Solent. The strength of the English sun is much stronger than people think. (a wander around Cowes on a summer evening pays testament to this!).  It’s also important to remember that sun protection is not just for those blazing summer days – UV penetrates clouds too.


Whether you’re in Southampton Water or the Mediterranean you should try and avoid too much exposure to the sun between 11am – 2pm.  Of course tides and wind dictate our course and so this is not very easy to apply and precautions have to be taken. On a Skippered Charter, your skipper will bear all this in mind and will expect you to come suitably attired but whenever you are out on the water and the sun is shining try and follow these simple rules :

Wear a hat

This protects your skin, hair and scalp. The ideal sailing hat will have a wide rim, be lightweight and quick drying. A hat with ties is best in windy situations. A hat can also shield your hair from dehydration if you have lovely locks.

Protect your skin

UV rays can penetrate clouds, so skin protection isn’t just for sunny days. Almost two men die of skin cancer for every one woman in the UK  (but also across Australasia, North America and much of Europe)   Male skin cancer incidence is forecast to double over the next 20 years according to the World Health Organisation. Check out for their range of all-year-round skin protection.

If you go for a swim assume that your SPF is reduced by 50% so it’s best to towel dry and reapply. In recent years it’s come to light that chemicals found in sunscreen can be harmful to coral and marine life. Find out about recommended eco-friendly sunscreens here.

Wear sunglasses

Petrol station glasses just won’t cut it. Opt for wrap-around, impact-resistant  Did you know you can get floating sunglasses now? Or use a strap! Polarised lens reduces sun and water surface glare, you need this UV protection. It’s worth investing in decent sunglasses, they’ll protect your eyes, enhance your visual enjoyment and sunglasses are not just for sailing.

Sun Protective Clothing

Ultra Violet Protection clothing has come a long way. Not just in terms of technology – Breathable fabrics wick away sweat and high SP to deflect sun rays helping keep you cool. But also in design – All the great sailing brands now produce UVP clothing so you can look cool too! For the uninitiated, this is a UV  durable barrier that allows sweat to escape while warding off the chill.

All of these measures will improve your experience whilst sailing, save you from sunburn and protect from skin damage in the long term. First Class Sailing have been casting off from the Solent for over 20 years now and like all sailors, our understanding of the effect of the sun has evolved. All our yacht skippers make sure that they’re well protected and whilst many of the suggestions made will seem common sense, it can’t be stressed enough how important it is, to your experience aboard or to your health in the long term.

Posted by: First Class Sailing


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