Thoughts on kit

posted in: My Clipper Race Journey | 0

Clipper send us a very comprehensive kit list for training, but then add that they don’t recommend purchasing any expensive items until after Level 1 when you can get advice from your Skipper and Mate.  Which is great, just as long as you have suitable stuff that you can “make do” with or borrow for Level 1. I didn’t. So I had to make the credit card cry.

I have sailing trainers for when using our boat, but they’re not waterproof and at the end of March with Storm Katie as special guest for Easter, I’m really glad I persuaded Mike to buy me a pair of Dubarry Ultima’s at the Boat Show. I have the Extra Fit version as I was blessed with the family rugby player calves. To be honest, they could do with being a tad wider in the calf, but it really is quibbling over nothing. I wore them nearly all week and apart from feeling a bit stiff on the ankles for a couple of days, they were super comfortable and kept my feet warm and dry. Even when the rest of me really wasn’t. I don’t know how they would stand up Round the World, but they did me very nicely indeed.

I was in two minds about what to do about a sleeping bag, I didn’t know anyone with one I could borrow and I had heard people say they could get wet. Cold & wet sounded a very bad combination for sleeping in my mind. Everyone seemed to recommend the Ocean Sleepwear bags but I had reservations about the whole mummy style thing. I have claustrophobic feet and like to be able to move them about. I even emailed them and asked for the exact dimensions of the bags! In the end I went for a long version in the hope that my feet wouldn’t be near the bottom anyway.

I have to say, that if there was one thing I would highly recommend, it would be this. Apart from being an enormous pack – you wouldn’t want to be taking it backpacking that’s for sure, it was the most luxurious sleeping bag I’ve ever come across. Yes, it also has the noisiest velcro and zips I’ve also ever come across but when you’re slipping your feet into soft, fluffy fleecy sleeping bag liner, who cares how noisy the zip is!

I was never cold, unlike some of my fellow crew who opted for metal thermos flasks as bag warmers instead! (Apparently it works quite well). For myself, I actually found myself having to unzip it occasionally as I was too warm!

Messy bunk - but just look at that soft, cosy fleece....
Messy bunk – but just look at that soft, cosy fleece….

Thermals are not something usually found in my clothing repertoire. It’s not terribly cold in Council meetings and I’m a bit of a fair weather dinghy sailor, so another purchase had to be made. Everyone I spoke to recommended Icebreaker merino wool base layers, but the price made me cringe a bit. Once again it came back to whether I liked being cold or not and the answer was a whole hearted – no. Plus there was a sale on at Cotswold Outdoor, which helped dispel any concerns I had!

I have two thoughts on these – absolutely fantastic would be my first thought. Especially if you didn’t put on your foulies first thing and then the weather turns awful and you get soaked through to the skin. With merino base layers, you may be wet (but not for long as they dry really quickly) but you won’t be cold. It makes a huge difference. My other thought is – buy bright colours. Of everything. At 6.30am while trying to find something in your bag with a head torch on a low beam, when everything in your bag is black – you will never find anything. It all looks the same.

So what else did I have?

North Face Fleece Trousers were a really good mid layer. Quick drying, stretchy and comfortable. Also good for walking the dog.

Henri Lloyd were amazing in getting an Elite Therm Mid Layer Jacket to me in a few days when I realised I didn’t have a good mid layer jacket. Once again, I don’t like being cold! This jacket is amazing, its warm and comfortable and has gone from being solely for sailing, to being my “go to” cold weather jacket.

Waterproof bags are a necessity and once again, the credit card and I had a lovely trip to the Boat Show where I picked up several Overboard Waterproof bags. I also got a waterproof phone case which I think probably saved my phone from getting slightly damp. There was a lot of condensation in the sleeping area so even if the phone wasn’t submersed in water, condensation isn’t going to do it any good either. I kept it clipped on the bag above my bunk so I always knew where it was and didn’t have to worry about dropping it.

Finally, two items from local company – Sealskinz.

Firstly, my waterproof beanie hat. I love this hat. I took several different hats with me, including my usual Tilley hat and yet every day, it was the beanie hat that found it’s way on my head.

It was great for keeping my head warm and dry, it had the major task of controlling my hair which kept pushing it up a bit but it stayed on no matter how windy it got. I’m thinking of getting some more in different colours.


Secondly, my hi-viz gloves. I’m not really a glove lover, I like to be able to feel what I’m doing so I was a little unsure about buying any gloves at all. I’m glad I did though as there were points where my hands were like blocks of ice with little stalactite fingers!

These are advertised as “totally waterproof” which they weren’t really. They were waterproof for quite a while, but torrential rain, sleet & hail for 10 hours did get the better of them eventually. They were fighting a losing battle & coped admirably well!

However, the merino lining meant my hands were warm whether wet or dry. They’re also very bright and extremely grippy, so I’d definitely recommend them and will probably buy a spare couple of pairs.

What should I have taken but didn’t?

Knee Pads. And probably shin pads – I’ll tell you why in Level 1 Training – Part 2.

Lip Salve with a high spf – by the end of the week my lips felt like I’d been grating them.

More shampoo & conditioner – I only took tiny travel bottles and as we were in port every night I could have treated my hair a bit more kindly!


Secret hot tip no-one else will tell you – merino pants! Quite a revelation! 😉




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