When the weather turns cold … when the Montreal Express howls down from Quebec and the first flecks of the white stuff begin to drift down … going out on your boat might be the last thing you want to do!
On the other hand, there’s still some good fishing out there, despite the temperature, and passionate boaters will want to get in a few last trips before winter really sets in.
For you hardcore cold weather boaters, here are some tips and recommendations for gear and clothing that will help you endure the chill and boat in relative comfort and safety throughout the autumn and early winter months.
Your Mom was right when she told you to wear a hat when it’s cold outside: most of your body heat escapes from your head. If it’s just a chilly fall day, your well-worn BoSox cap might be enough, but if the wind is howling and the thermometer is dropping, you might need further hat intervention.
Boaters here in New England are familiar with the world’s best rain hat: the traditional yellow Sou-wester. Made with polyvinyl, these favorites of Maine lobstermen feature long back sections to keep the rain off your neck, and a draw cord to cinch up under your chin to keep the hat from blowing away. The Helly Hansen model (available for around $25 on Amazon) is cotton lined and comes with ear-flaps.
If it’s blowing hard and getting icy, you may want a balaclava ski hood. As the name implies, it’s also good for face protection while skiing or riding your Harley hog on winter roads. The Self Pro model (priced at around $15 on Amazon) is made with soft high-tech polar fleece and is cut with extra length in front and back to make sure your neck is covered. You can wear this one as a full face mask or neck gaiter, hat, bandana, open balaclava or ninja hoodie.
Gloves are important in cold weather, especially if you’re trying to handle you boat, or working with your fishing gear.
The Carhartt Insulated Waterproof gloves (about $27 at Amazon) are 100-percent polyester with a durable poly-tex shell, and fast-dry technology designed to keep hands sweat free. Offering maximum movement, you won’t feel impaired while wearing them and your hands stay warm.
Fishermen might like the Helm insulated windproof inner gloves from Aftco. They have a 4-way stretch outer shell with microfleece insulation and reinforced silicone textured palm. And they are thin enough to operate a smartphone as well as a spinning reel. About $29 at Aftco.
Keeping your toes warm is another part of the fight against cold weather. You need some good insulated boots and high-tech socks to help.
Rated to up to minus 40 Fahrenheit, the Kamik Greenbay 4 boots. Made with 600 denier Nylon with rubber grip soles, these heavyweight boots have a drawstring to stop water from getting in during rough seas. A removable thermal liner also keeps toes toasty warm and dry. Retailing at around $100 on Amazon, these boots are reasonably priced.
For women, check out the Sperry Saltwater boots, priced around $90 on Amazon. These waterproof boots, in a range of colors and styles, are designed to protect feet against saltwater and extreme cold. They have lace-up fronts with rust-proof eyelets, and durable rubber soles to offer grip on the boat.
For your trunk and torso, think layers. Warm fleece underneath, and wind-resistant fleece-lined Gore-Tex outside.
The Musto BR2 Offshore Sailing Jacket is a winner in the keep warm sweepstakes, with two-layer waterproof and breathable BR2 fabric, grid fleece-lined collar, double cuffs with adjustable outer cuffs and a double storm flap over the 2-way waterproof YKK zipper. Lots of deep pockets for hand warmers and articulated sleeves for easy of motion. In the $200-300 range on Amazon.
For women, the Helly Hansen Aegir Race Jacket is serious stuff for keeping warm. Made with 100% polyamide and polyurethane, this jacket features a double composite ocean membrane, 4-ply fabric construction, durable water repellency treatment, high fleece collar, adjustable hood, double cuffs and double storm flap. These jackets are priced around $700 at Amazon.
Of course, you could always decide to stay inside and drink cocoa, but what would be the fun in that?