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Old 04-16-2010
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First Day of Sailing - Gear?

I will be starting my first sailing lesson during the last week of May on the Chesapeake in MD. I have a question regarding what I should bring with me on the first day. Clothing, backpack, life vest, other essentials. I am looking for specifics in each category., For example, what type of life vest is best? I have a TYPE III for touring kayaking, and a neopreme zip jacket for jetskiing, but do not kow if these would be appropriate.
Any help would be great. It is a 4-day course on a 29 foot C&C.
Thanks.
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Old 04-16-2010
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Late May on the Chesapeake is generally nice weather. However, it could be fu ll summer with hot & sticky weather. Or it could be more spring-like. Every now and then one of the last cold fronts sneaks in around Memorial Day, or a low off the Delmarva peninsula will bring in some raw weather off the Atlantic. So you do have to bring a range of attire, or get a good forecast just before packing your bag so you know which way it's trending.

I would tentatively plan for warm weather, but bring a light fleece layer in case. Rain/foul weather gear would be smart, as we get quite a few summer storms this time of year.

While maybe not "the best", I would probably go with your kayaking pfd. The neoprene zip jetski pfd will likely be too hot/sticky and restrictive. The water will be warm enough for swimming, so for now your type III is okay. If you enjoy your lessons and decide to really get into sailing, eventually you might want to consider investing in a more sailing-specific vest. But what you've got is fine for now.

You'll want sunscreen, spf lip-balm, sunhat, and sunglasses too.

Some folks like to wear sailing gloves, especially if your hands are on the tender side.

As far as other clothing, SPF-rated quick-dry materials generally work well. Non-marking shoes too. And try not to bring too much aboard - sailboats are always tight on space.

Have fun!!
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Old 04-16-2010
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Convertible style pants, like those by Mountain Hardwear, Columbia or North Face are nice, because you can zip the legs off if it gets warm enough. The UPF factor shirts by Columbia, etc. are excellent, and usually pretty light material. A fleece shirt and/or light foul weather jacket is usually a good idea.

A digital camera isn't a bad thing to have along. Either is a notebook and pencil... A couple large ziplock bags to store your wallet, cellphone, etc in are also a good idea, as small sailboats can be very wet beasties.

If you're overnighting on the boat, a good thing to have along is a good flashlight. I like the Gerber Recon-X flashlights, since they have the ability to use red, white, blue and green lenses and are fairly compact and water resistant.
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For "my" students (Lake P. in New Orleans), life vests are on board, I have some extra ones in my car of different sizes just in case, and some ratty but still serviceable old Helly Hansen jackets and pants, and i bring water and sunscreen for all if they want it, plus ice in a thermal bag for other drinks they bring. If they've brought their own foulies and vests, great. You should inquire of the school or the instructor beforehand, so you'll know what to bring. I'd think any boat would have lifejackets (though not necessarily vest-type) for the max number passengers they can take; they might not have foulies though.

Aside from that, comfortable clothes, layers (upwind can be cold, downwind warm on same day) and non-marking shoes. Keeper string for your eyeglasses, too, and a hat. Any other personal gear, in a small waterproof (I hope) bag.
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