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Protecting your eyes and those of your crew

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What is the issue?
Bright sunlight is hard on the eyes, but when sailing the problem is amplified by the blinding glare caused by sunlight striking and being reflected off water.

Why address this?
You and your crew have only one set of eyes, they need protection from the bright light that accompanies water sports.

How to address this?
All the crew should wear polarised sun glasses as a standard vessel operating procedure.

Polarised sunglasses, often sold as ‘anti glare’ or ‘glare proof’ sunglasses are the absolute sunglasses of choice. Not alone do they offer the standard darkening effect of traditional sun glasses but they have what is akin to a chemical ‘Venetian blind’ (polarizer) built in. This polarizer permits light to enter from one direction only as with Venetian blinds horizontally but not vertically. The rearrangement effect allows the user to almost see through the glare and they remove a large part of the water surfaces’ gleam. This permits a better view of what is beneath the water so that hazards below or fish may be spotted.

The only down side to polarises is they can also have that Venetian blind effect upon light from LCD instruments. You may have to rotate your head somewhat to find a position in which you can see the vessels instrument readings if not pop them up from time to time.

When selecting a pair you will find there are two basic types of polarised sunglasses, one based upon a glass lenses and the other plastic. The former are much more scratch resistant and consequentially offer a longer life that the plastic lenses that tend to take scratches and grazing. However in use the glass variant can be heavy and weigh upon your nose uncomfortably when worn over an extended period. The plastic variant by contrast is lighter and entirely comfortable. Although they scratch easier they are typically much cheaper to buy and replace.

After many years of living with both my choice has come to buy low cost plastic based lenses for boating and replace them as and when they get tired. If you want expensive fashion glasses keep them separate from your boater set that is more likely to get scratched, bashed or blown off. The best sunglasses for sailing, if you really do not care how you look, have the side panels to keep out side glare. All should have good ear pieces and you should hook up a safety strap before you set foot aboard a vessel.

With thanks to:
Michael Harpur, Yacht Obsession.

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