U is for Ultra Violet Death Rays

I am currently in the market for a long sleeved, billowy linen shirt that will flow romantically in the breeze when we are in sunny locales. I want it to be long enough to wear as a short dress, be loose fitting, and do a good job of blocking a lot of sun. Maybe it will be turquoise? Lavender? Cream? I don’t get to shop for clothes much anymore, so I’m going to really enjoy this because this shirt is a need. Not a want.

I’m rating this kind of between alert and alarm. It’s enough of a concern that I’m already stockpiling stuff to keep the sun off my skin.

Our skin is really coddled up here in the rainy, cloudy Pacific Northwest. Except for in the summer (and some weird days this month) we don’t have to think too much about UV damage to our skin. In the winter, most people are indoors most of the time, and when they are outdoors it is likely to be raining, or at least have a heavy cloud layer hanging so low you can touch it. The sun never gets far enough above the horizon in the winter to do much damage.  That’s going to be changing as we head south in the boat.

In the summertime even this far north, Mike and I have to wear good layers of sun protection in order to keep from getting burned. I remember when we had Moonrise and that open cockpit, sun protection was really a priority and there were years we both did some damage to our skin. Here’s a blast from the past article (rather tongue in cheek) from 2012 where I wrote about a completely scientifically accurate survey I did regarding how men and women differ in their attitudes toward sunscreen on tender skin. Since the day I wrote that article Mike has been really good about putting his own sunscreen on. As a special treat for looking at that post, you’ll get to see a photo of me slathering sunscreen on Mike’s face. Is it a coincidence that he now slathers it on himself? I think not.

I love this photo of us on Moonrise, but wow we were really exposed to the blistering rays.

I’d like to say that my biggest worry in terms of sun damage is skin cancer. But it’s not. I already did enough damage to my skin long ago to put me in the risk category for skin cancers that need removing. We get our skin checked and so far, so good. No, my biggest concern is aging prematurely. I’m in my ’50s. Do you blame me? Say what you want, but I don’t want my skin to look like wrinkled leather. It’s bad enough as it is.

Here are some of the ways we’ll be protecting our skin as we travel.

  1. Hats. I have a hat I’ve been wearing for years when boating. That hat is so ubiqitous that another blogger recognized me at the marina in La Paz because I was wearing that blue hat. Weird. We’ll probably have a good selection of hats for both of us aboard.
  2. Long sleeved shirts, some with UV protection in them. If we can swim in them, that’s even better. I bought a couple of 50 SPF shirts from Lands End on sale this year. I’m stocking up. I’d like to have a couple of these with thumbholes so that the backs of my hands are covered. I’ve seen some swim leggings I want to check out as well. Got any favorites you can recommend?
  3. A parasol. That’s right. I am going to get a couple of nice ones. I have a paper one on board and used it this summer during some days with a lot of sun. It was quite pleasant. Portable shade wherever I go.

    I would TOTALLY carry one of these.

    I would TOTALLY carry one of these.

  4. Long sun dresses and pants. We’ll just need to get some for hot climates.
  5. We have that great hard dodger! Yay! Shade on the boat. We also have a full boat cover that hangs over the boom. We understand from the previous owner that it is a great addition in the South Pacific. It is, however, dark blue, and it’s unlikely we’d deploy something that big unless we are staying put for awhile.
  6. Sunglasses. Eyes need protecting from the sun, too. We’ll just have to spend the money on good prescription sunglasses.
  7. Sunscreen. Can you recommend a good sunscreen that won’t poison the coral reefs and will not run into our eyes? Are those two things mutually exclusive?

    Did I miss anything? What recommendations do you have? We’ll both be going to our dermatologist in the next few months for a final skin check before we go. Got to take care of that skin!

    Just joined us for the A to Z Challenge? The series on Anxiety starts here.

  8. From my trip with Andrew back in 2008. Southern Utah. Another beautiful place where the sun will take the skin right off your face.

    From my trip with Andrew back in 2008. Southern Utah. Another beautiful place where the sun will take the skin right off your face.







19 thoughts on “U is for Ultra Violet Death Rays

  1. If I could only go back and time and take away all of the hot, summer Kansas days spent lounging at my grandma’s pool covered in baby oil (even my face), I might still look younger than my older sister.

    • No kidding. I remember those days. And if I could turn back the 10 years I spend lifeguarding that would be great, too. Baby oil. My god. We must have been crazy. Why not just magnify the sun’s rays? Like butter in a frying pan.

  2. A quick search online came up with the following (from the first page only–there were a lot of hits)
    Tropical Seas Reef Safe Sincere (tested by Mote Marine Tropical Research Laboratory)
    Honest Sunscreen from The Honest Company

    Not sure how effective these are at preventing sunburns, however.
    We purchased Solar Veil shirts (and, for me, pants) with an spf of about 30 before chartering in French Polynesia. They are very loose weave, so they are comfortable in a hot climate, but you do need to wear a tee and shorts under them, unless you want to pretty clearly display your underwear (or lack thereof). But it meant we didn’t have to keep greasing ourselves with sunscreen. For snorkeling, we wear a tee shirt to protect backs, and we’ve used nylon leggings to protect our legs. That keeps the need for sunscreen to a minimum.

    You might want to ask Behan from Totem what they have done–the family are all very blondes. She’s also environmentally conscious–her latest post is a good one about the ability of the planet to absorb the damage humans are doing.

  3. Look into making screens before you take off . Here is a link to how we did it on Cream Puff: http://www.creampuff.us/2016/03/off-insect-spray-the-unofficial-perfume-of-the-bahamas/?fb_ref=Default
    We purchased dog resistant screens at Home Depot in the USA. It is UV stable and is much stronger than regular screen fabric.

    While sailing in the hot caribbean, we have used these screens mostly for a sun shade in addition to what we made them for: bugs. We didn’t really plan to use them for shade. We made them for bugs. But, it really helps keep the cockpit cooler while at anchor. The shade lets the breeze pass through and blocks about 50% of the sun’s rays. Perfect!

    This has been one of our more successful projects.

    Mark and Cindy – s/v Cream Puff

    • That is very helpful! When we bought Galapagos, she came with a complete screen enclosure for the cockpit. Unfortunately, it was so old and degraded that it is all but useless now. But I’ve thought about replacing it because of bugs. Others have told me that any kind of screen material will keep the breeze from flowing through, and we don’t want to do that. I will check into that dog resistant screen. Might be just the thing.

  4. Gotta have a hat! One year I didn’t have the right sunglasses and got sunburned eyes (is there such a thing?). Anyway, I had to lay in the bottom of the boat for the entirety of the day.

  5. And me. 20 years as a farmer, to busy and unaware to think about UV, though I did wear long-sleeves sometimes when the sun was really intense. But not enough to reduce the damage significantly.
    I take comfort from the knowledge that the ozone layer was probably thicker when I was younger, and so blocked more of the UV than it does now. Of course I’m not positive that’s true, but it SEEMS like it!

  6. Did you know that Costa makes prescription sunglasses? (If you haven’t heard of them, they specialize in sporty sunglasses for water activities, really nice) I’ve gotten my non-RX pairs from Sierra Trading post at some really nice discount prices. The RX ones of course have to be ordered directly from Costa.

  7. I’m not crazy about sunscreen, and terribly bad about using it. But when dressed up for historical reenactments in those puffy-sleeved linen shirts, or as tour guides on the Spanish tallship where we work, I realized that I was sweating less in my long sleeves, than the visitors in tank tops were. I’d rather cover up, than slather up. When swimming, we wear rash guard swim skins to avoid sunscreen. Bonus: also helps avoid jellyfish stings! (similar to this one on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/dp/B003554ETA/ref=sxr_pa_click_within_right1?pf_rd_t=301&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_p=2329824862&pf_rd_i=cressi+rash+guard+one+piece&pf_rd_r=0KYFDQED8BS6SR8GDEB9&pf_rd_s=desktop-rhs-carousels&psc=1)

  8. This is such an important thing to think about. Living in New Zealand was a killer for my skin as there’s a hold in the ozone there and it’s got some of the strongest UV rays you can find. It took me a while, but I got pretty good about always putting sunscreen on when sailing there.

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