What could be nicer than enjoying the warming sun after a long winter on your first trips by boat, surfboard or canoe in the new season? We have compiled a few tips for dealing with the sun on the water for you, because lying in the bunk in the evening or putting on the harness with a proper sunburn is not such a great pleasure.
On and around the water, you have to pay more attention to the sun, because:
the water (like sand or snow) acts like a mirror and you are tanned from all sides;
you don't feel the heat of the sun on your skin due to the cooling wind, which is so important for sailing or surfing;
there are fewer particles of dust in the air on the coast and at sea that block UV rays;
it is not necessarily possible to take a break from the sun on the boat at lunchtime when you are on a cruise;
drops of water on your skin have the effect of a magnifying glass for rays of sunlight on the skin;
you sail through different areas with different weather conditions during a cruise sometimes in a short time;
and because a thinner ozone layer acts as a multiplier to all the mentioned factors.
The danger of sunburn in European latitudes
Compared to areas near the equator, the UV-index, which means the risk of sunburn, is lower in European latitudes but the thickness of the ozone layer varies not only at the South Pole but also at the North Pole and thus can have an effect on Central Europe as well. The atmosphere becomes more permeable to the UV component of solar radiation. After low ozone concentrations were measured above the North Pole after the winter of 2004/2005, the ozone layer above the North Pole continued to decrease sharply during the winter of 2010/2011. Continually low temperatures during a winter in the lower stratosphere there favour this phenomenon, according to the German Weather Service (DWD).
Protect yourself properly
Similar to the watches at night, you should take turns on deck at noon and take breaks to rest in the shade below deck. Depending on the weather forecast, a lunch break in a harbour or at an anchorage can be scheduled in advance for the day trip. Sunglasses, sun hat or a cap with umbrella, a long-sleeved shirt, long trousers and of course sunscreen should be handy on board. There is a large selection of fabrics with an integrated higher sun protection factor, especially for clothing. A hat with a wide brim also protects the neck and ears from the sun and an UV filter should also be used on sunglasses. If you go into the water, wear a lycra shirt for swimming. It also gives protection against burns from jellyfish touching your skin.
Sun protection on the skin
The sunscreen you use should be waterproof - especially when you are sailing or bathing at anchor and get wet again and again. Give the lotion enough time to absorb before contact with water and reapply it from time to time - although this does not prolong the time you can spend in the sun! This is why you should choose a high sun protection factor for a whole day on the water and also use a sun blocker for sensitive areas like the face and hands.
Canopies - Hardtops - Biminis
Boat builders and manufacturers of watersports equipment are also concerned about your UV protection. On yachts, for example, there are a number of innovative solutions on deck to create shady spots. Yachts in hardtop design can easily open or close the sunroof at the push of a button. Bimini tops with a variable support structure are also often available for boats with sun decks and outside helmstands. Often they are already a part of the ship's standrad accessories when purchased. And in order to do justice to the overall impression of the yacht, these are also available in different colours, depending on the supplier. In some boat designs even the complete roof can be divided into different sections.
UV resistance of boat-building materials
As far as the UV resistance of materials themselves is concerned, more and more work is being done on solutions for better durability. This applies to coloured surfaces that would fade over time but can be protected with coatings and special varnishes. The yacht interior can also be shielded from the sun with retrofittable reflective films for windows, which also keeps it cooler below deck. The mix of salt water, sun and fine sand is also a challenge for sailcloth.
The aft part of a sail (e.g. on the leech) is often equipped with UV protection by sail makers - with acrylic fabric, a self-adhesive film or even foam - to hide the cloth from the sun when it is rolled up. In general, it helps to get unused equipment out of the sun early enough to prevent fabrics from becoming brittle. Even with a tarpaulin or cover you can protect your water sports equipment not only from rain and dirt, but also from too much sun.