The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

Warm Hands, Please

A while ago I wrote about how we keep our feet warm when sailing in colder climes. In this post I will address the issue of keeping our hands warm, which aren’t, unfortunately, as easy to please.

I guess it makes sense that keeping hands warm is a more difficult task than keeping feet warm, since we also expect so much more from them than from feet—everything from gross motor actions like grasping a wheel to fine motor actions like manipulating the small buttons on electronic equipment.

After many years of experimenting, we have come up with a system that uses five different types of gloves/mittens, that we take on and off depending on the task:

  • Thin ski gloves for dry, relatively warm conditions. These allow manipulation of most things except for the tiniest buttons.
  • Gill Helmsman gloves for relatively dry, somewhat colder conditions. Good for handling the helm and sheets but not much else.
  • Full-on outdoor mittens with removable liners for really cold weather. Only good for sitting there, hoping that you don’t have to move a muscle.
  • Neoprene diving gloves for cold, wet, dirty work. Used for any task requiring medium level dexterity (e.g. bringing up the anchor, reefing, etc.).
  • Fishermen’s insulated gloves (known as sewer gloves on MC because of how they smell when wet) for very wet work in cold conditions. Not good for anything finer than very gross motor tasks (e.g. dealing with the dinghy or shorefasts).

Our routine is to interchange the heavier gloves/mittens for the neoprenes when faced with a medium dexterity task. For fine work, e.g. manipulating the buttons on the electronics, we have to quickly take off the heavy glove/mitt in question, do the job, and then get that mitt/glove back on as quickly as possible!

Does anyone out there have a better solution? If so, we’re all ears (which are easy to keep warm: wind resistant fleece watchcap)! Please leave a comment.

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