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10 Tips for Sun Protection on the Water

Heather Steinberger: Marine Editor      Published June 2018

10 Tips for Sun Protection on the Water

After a long winter, there’s nothing quite like sunshine and fresh air to boost your mood. And we boaters soak it up, spending nearly six hours on the water per outing.

There are risks to all that time in the sun, however; in fact, sun protection is a critical part of overall boating safety. So, before you cast off the docklines, take a quick peek at these 10 safe boating tips from our friends at the SunSafe Boating initiative:

1. Bring Layers

Lightweight, UV-blocking clothes are easy to find at outdoor retailers, and they provide you with sun-protection benefits in addition to comfort. You never know when the weather might take a turn or when the wind might pick up, so having extra layers is a must for staying comfortable during your day out on the water. If you’re an avid angler, you may want to consider sun gloves as well.

2. Pack a Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends applying sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going outdoors. Be sure to bring a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which protects against both UVA and UVB rays. (Note: If you’re bringing your dog, double-check to see if your suncreen is pet-friendly. Zinc oxide is toxic to pets.)

3. Reapply Sunscreen Regularly

Best practices are to reapply sunscreen every two hours using roughly 1 ounce all over the body (the size of a shot glass). If you’re swimming, or get sweaty while exercising, you should apply more regularly.

4. Leave the Alcohol at Home

Not only does alcohol consumption impair judgment and increase the likelihood of injury and accidents while boating, studies have also found evidence that alcohol consumption may make you more vulnerable to sunburn and sun damage.

5. Have Plenty of Hydration Options on Hand

Dehydration can mean onboard illness, or even cutting your outing short due to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Instead of packing your coolers with beer, try sparkling water, fresh-squeezed juices or coconut water. You also can infuse it with berries, cucumbers or citrus for a spa-like experience at minimal cost.


6. Gotta Wear Shades

Sun exposure can cause serious sunburns on your eyes, damaging your corneas as well as the whites of your eyes. Sunglasses will protect them, as well as the skin around your eyes, from possible sun damage. Wraparound sunglasses with dark lenses that offer 100-percent UVA/UVB protection are your best bet. If you’re an regular boater, you also may want to consider investing in a pair of polarized sunglasses, which neutralize glare.

7. Pick Smarter Swimwear

If you plan to be lounging on board, or if you’re looking for a cover-up to wear between swims, consider full-coverage swimwear like rash guards, swim shirts, board shorts and swim dresses.

8. Consider Fishing Early… or Late

The sun is at its strongest points between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. While you might miss out on the warmest and sunniest points of the day, we encourage boaters to try a fishing excursion around dawn or schedule a sunset outing with friends when the conditions are safer. The good news: You might get the best catches early or late in the day, and sunrises and sunsets provide beautiful photo opportunities.

9. Wear a Brimmed Hat

The best hats are brimmed to protect your ears and provide shade for your face. You also might consider a French Foreign Legion-style hat with the long cloth in the back to drape against your neck.

10. Invest in a Sun Shade

Sun shades are canvas additions that can be installed on your boat to add shady spots for passengers to enjoy, and they’re also good at mitigating the wear and tear on your watercraft from regular sun exposure. A good sun shade is an excellent investment if you’re looking to shield your passengers from the sun’s harmful rays and maintain your boat for longer.