September 23, 2015:
Happy first day of Fall!
Well now that we have a crew position confirmed, we need gear! This past week I have been searching and shopping for offshore life vests, tethers and foul weather gear. I’m happy to report that after several trips to West Marine, REI, lots of online shopping and finding a great local store selling both new and used sailing gear, that we are pretty much completely equipped!
The most important and first thing on my list was an offshore life vest. I was looking for one that will auto-inflate when it comes into contact with water, that way if we were to get knocked unconscious when falling overboard, it would still inflate without pulling the string. I also wanted one with a built-in harness and D-rings so that we could clip into a tether and attach ourselves to the boat in high-wind or bad weather. For such heavy-duty vests, they are actually surprisingly small and comfortable – which makes it so much easier to wear!
Click here to see what the offshore life vests look like.
Along with the life vest, the next thing I looked at were tethers. These are heavy-duty straps that have a shackle that clips to the D-rings on your life vest or harness and then have a locking hook that attaches either into the cockpit or to jacklines that run the length of the boat. I really liked the ones that had 2 straps with hooks so that when moving around the boat in bad weather before unclipping yourself from one point, you could clip onto the next point.
Click here to see them.
The life vest and safety tether were the two most important pieces of equipment that we would need, however they are not cheap. Considering they could save your life, they are definitely worth it though! We had heard of a local store that sold used sailing equipment called Columbia Marine Exchange, so I decided to check out what they had there. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they had a pretty decent selection of life vests, tethers and foul weather gear! They were also super helpful answering my questions. After several visits and probably a couple hours, I ended up purchasing two matching older West Marine auto-inflate life vests and two double-ended safety tethers for less than half of what they would have cost new! At first, I was a little leary of purchasing used safety gear, considering your life could rely on it. However, all of their gear is inspected prior to being put up for sale. I also went home and blew up the life vests to make sure there were no pin holes anywhere. We will replace the CO2 cartridges in the vests that make them inflate automatically.
While I was at West Marine I also looked at foul weather gear. Even when sailing in places that usually have good weather, you will still always have the chance of a storm or squall coming through and getting you soaked and cold in the wind. I found a really great Helly Hansen jacket that is waterproof and has adjustable double cuffs around the wrists to keep you dry! I also got some rain rain pants. Ty also found this Helly Hansen jacket that should work great to keep warm and dry!
I looked at waterproof boots, but considering we shouldn’t get too much rain on the sail off the coast of California, I decided to hold off on the boots. Instead, I opted to purchase some actual boat shoes. We have just been wearing regular tennis shoes or athletic sandals on our sails so far, but we thought it would be a good idea to get something made specifically for being on a boat. Good boat shoes should be non-slip, even in wet conditions. I also wanted something lightweight that would dry really easily. I ended up getting these Crocs boat shoes. I never imagined owning a pair of crocs (and who knew that they make actual boating shoes?!), but these are super comfortable, have really good grip, a rubber insole with drain holes, and the canvas will dry really easily when it gets wet. Since I wasn’t totally sure about the Crocs, I also ordered some Helly Hansen shoes that look a bit more athletic. We will see which work better! Ty found some really great Sperry shoes that are super light-weight and quick-drying. I wish they had a women’s version!
So after all of that, I’d say we’re pretty much equipped now, and super excited!! The delivery captain is already there and on the boat. He told us it’s in great shape and has lots of gear and extras like paddle boards and kayaks! We can’t wait to get down there and get on the boat… we leave Saturday, so the countdown has begun!