Toby Hodges takes a look at some of the best waterproof sunscreen and sun protection kit on the market for sailors from hammocks and fans to sunscreens and hats
Year-round exposure to the sun and the double-hit of rays reflecting off the water means that sailors have a high risk of skin damage, which means getting the best waterproof sunscreen and sun protection key onboard.
Liveaboards and those who regularly cruise in the tropics will know the value, indeed necessity of fitting quality biminis and awnings, as well the requirement for ventilation below decks.
For those of us who are more sun-deprived and crave some vitamin D, or for when fitting biminis for a short summer season is less practical, then protecting yourself and each crewmember individually from the damaging effects of UV is invaluable. The radiation emitted by the sun is an invisible killer, which can pass through clothing and is responsible for 90% of melanoma skin cancers.
LifeJacket, a British waterproof sunscreen brand (see below), recently partnered with SkinVision, to help encourage people to routinely check for skin cancer by offering its customers free, instant and unlimited skin checks for seven days.
The app uses artificial intelligence to compare a user’s skin spots and moles with millions of images of known skin cancers to provide a risk score. Over 1.3million people have used the app worldwide already and LifeJacket says 92,000 incidences of skin cancers have been found as a result.
Best waterproof sunscreen and sun protection
British brand LifeJacket Skin Protection stresses that men often aren’t as good at protecting and checking their skin as women and are twice as likely to die of skin cancer.
Its mission is to prevent skin cancer in men. It offers a range of moisturisers and waterproof sunscreens available individually or in different packs with high (30) or very high (50) levels of SPF that are non greasy, water resistant and reef safe.
It also makes a range of UPF 50+ clothing including tee-shirts and long sleeve shirts and a wide brim sun hat with elasticated cord.
Ocean Potion Sport 50 Sunscreen
The Ocean Potion Sport 50 Sunscreen Lotion is a nongreasy waterproof sunscreen that also offers ‘reef-safe’ protection from the sun, meaning it doesn’t include many of the chemicals found in other suncreams.
This should be particularly important to anyone who cares about the natural world around us, but there is also a practical point too. Hawaii has, in recent years become the first US state to ban the sale of sunscreens containing the coral-harming chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate. The ban came into effect in early 2021, and it seems likely other states and nations will follow suit.
Aside from the eco-credentials, this sunscreen resists water well and its 50 SPF protection is very high – and is really what you should be looking for if you’re going to be in strong sunlight for any period of time.
Ocean Potion Sport 50 is also enriched With sea plants and antioxidant vitamins B, C & E to protect and nourish skin.
Red Original Quick Dry Microfibre Changing Robe
Dryrobes are the latest thing in beach chic it seems and have fast become a fashion accessory. But they remain practical for those who want to get in and out of the sea frequently. During the long summer evenings in particular you may want to stay in the water as long as possible and a cosy dryrobe could help you dry, change and warm up quickly. This has a breathable, waterproof outer shell, adjustable long sleeves and a valuables chest pocket. £145.
If space and drying are an issue, the Quick Dry Changing Robe might be more suitable – made from absorbent and antibacterial microfibre towel material, it packs into a stash bag and is a third of the price of the dryrobe above.
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Gill Pursuit Cap
The Pursuit Cap from Gill is one of the few sailing hats that comes with a retaining lanyard. A clip on the end attaches to your collar, so you’re less likely to find yourself fishing one of these out of the oggin.
Available in bright blue, dark blue, graphite or silver, it features a UV treatment of 50+ and a generously-sized peak to help keep the sun out of your eyes. The underside of the peak is also designed to absorb light reflected from the water.
Breathable fabric (polyester for easy cleaning) and a wicking headband should help you keep a cool head in the heat of battle on the race course.
Florence Marine X UPF
John John Florence, the world’s top surfer and a pretty handy sailor, has developed a new line of apparel badged Florence Marine X. At its heart are products designed for longevity and sourced and made sustainably using almost exclusively recycled materials.
Shunning the fast fashion route, its model is “one built on adherence to quality, performance and a responsibility to look after the places we explore,” says Florence.
These UPF shirts caught our eye in particular. An increasing number of sailors in the tropics and shorthanded sailors wear hooded garments and full skin coverings. These are made with 100% recycled polyester yet offer UPF 50+ protection and contain breathable and anti-bacterial panels.
The built-in hood and gaiter should prove a blessing for those who feel the rays scorching the back of their necks during long days afloat.
Also available as tee-shirts or long-sleeve Ts without the hood, or hooded rash vests.
Musto Evo Sunblock LS Tee 2.0
“Sail for longer in the Evolution Sunblock Long Sleeve T-shirt. The UPF 40 shields you from the sun’s harmful UV rays. The cotton blend t-shirt combines comfort with durability to create a lightweight t-shirt you can wear on the mountain, on the water or at the marina.”
Rheos floating sunglasses
The crow’s feet wrinkles I can take. The long term damage to my eyes from glare and UV on the water I find increasingly concerning. So finding and wearing suitable polarising sunglasses which offer full UV protection is essential. Other than my trusty SunGods, the lenses of which can be replaced (and I have found need to be as the lens coating can delaminate in saltwater), the three types of shades I have worn most recently are from Bolle, Oakley and Rheos.
Rheos offers durable, affordable shades for men, women, and children that are made with super light frames to ensure they float. Their hydrophobic lenses are 100% UV protective. The company was founded by a husband-and-wife team from Charleston, S.C, and all models use signature Nylon Optics, to offer enhanced clarity and impact resistance.
I have been trying its Palmetto model in Gunmetal/Marine ($55) and have found the lenses to be wonderfully clear afloat, blocking out harsh reflections and helping to identify what’s below the surface. However, I have found the arms stretch out a little, so they don’t stay put so easily on the top of the head.
Rheos has partnered with clothing brand Southern Tide, to launch a new line of sunglasses for the summer including this Edisto range ($78).
Oakley Clifden sailing sunglasses
If you prefer flatter lenses to the curved wraparound style, but still want protection from the sides, Oakley’s Clifden might be what you’re looking for.
Oakley says that the polarised lenses are set apart by the fact that they’re made using an infusion moulding process that forms a single layer, as opposed to several layers bonded together with adhesives.
Side shields provide protection around the outside edges of the lenses and a ‘bridge blocker’ fills the gap in the middle over the nose. Lenses are available in a range of tints, the ‘Deep Water Polarised’ being suggested for sailing.
I enjoy the heat of summer, but need it cool at night or in my office to work. This neat unit arrived on the cusp of a heatwave last year and proved invaluable on land and afloat. My shed office only has one set of doors, no opening windows, so ventilation is an issue. Equally, our boat only has a small overhead hatch above the main berth.
This MeacoFan is compact and lightweight at just 490g, so ideal for taking between the two. It is also blissfully quiet – without the loathsome rattle of many cabin fans – which means you can leave it running through the night or while working or without it driving you to distraction.
The base incorporates non-slip grip and a low light nightlight. The Meaco is charged via a standard USB Micro C port and has four fan speeds, with the lowest speed providing up to 14 hours use on one charge. I used it for weeks on end at night and praised the gentle breeze it wafted over my face as it regularly sent me to sleep.
Yellow leaf hammock
A hammock is surely the definition of relaxation. And as yachts have plenty of standing rigging to hang one off, keeping an easily stowable quality hammock aboard can make for an instant stress reliever.
Each Yellow Leaf hammock is handwoven by the craftswomen of the Mlabri Tribe – “the people of the yellow leaves” – in the hills of Northern Thailand. So you can relax knowing you are helping to harness their skills and artistry and create job opportunities in an area of poverty. Made from weathersafe materials.
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