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February 09 2015

8 facts you should know about Caribbean sun

Let´s be honest: Coming home with a gorgeous tan is one of the important objectives of a yacht charter holiday in the Caribbean, at least for female crews. Well, there is nothing bad about tanning - but you should consider these 8 facts about the Caribbean sun before spreading your towel aboard the charter yacht. 

Let´s be honest: Coming home with a gorgeous tan is one of the important objectives of a yacht charter holiday in the Caribbean, at least for female crews. Well, there is nothing bad about tanning - but you should consider these 8 facts about the Caribbean sun before spreading yout towel aboard the charter yacht. 

1)  Two weeks in the Caribbean may harm your skin more than the entire European summer
The idea is tempting, I know: Spending as much time as possible in the gleaming sun to impress the ones at home with a nice tan. But that´s why you should overcome the temptation to catch every ray of light: A short, but intense exposure to ultraviolet rays, like in the Caribbean, will increase the risk of black cancer. A good way to get a tan without taking a risk is to slowly extend the time you spend in the sun.
 
2) Pre-tanning in the solarium won´t get you anywhere
When you spend time in the solarium, your skin produces a pigment called Melanine. This pigment, though, only filters 2 to 4 percent of the ultraviolet rays, so your tan won´t help you in the Caribbean. The best idea is to avoid the solarium anyway, as every session increases the risk of skin cancer and makes you look old very quickly.

3) SPF 20 is sufficient for most types of skin – if you put enough of it
I know it´s no fun to spread oily sunscreen on your body when the air humidity is high and the temperature exceeds 86° F. To avoid oily skin, most people tend to use less sunscreen with a higher Sun Protection Factor. However, Australian scientists have proved that it´s only the thickness of the layer that keeps ultraviolet rays from intruding. As a rule of thumb, one is supposed to spread a dose that fits in the palm of the index and middle finger on each of the following regions of the body: Head and neck, each arm, each thigh, each ankle and foot, trunk and back.
Did you know by the way that basically no sun protection product fulfils the definition of the term “Sunblocker”, which means as much as “100 percent UV protection”? The EU is currently aiming to prohibit the term as it deceives consumers.

4) Low-budget sunscreen is as good (or even better) as expensive stuff from the pharmacy
Searching for the best skin protection, many yacht charter enthusiasts purchase their sunscreen and sunblocker in the pharmacy. Now here´s good news: As the independent german magazine “Stiftung Warentest” revealed in 2013, sunscreen from the discounter or the drugstore protects the skin as well or even better than so-called high performance products. So save money on sunscreen, but don´t save on the amount of sunscreen you apply. The bucks you saved with your smart sunscreen deal can be soent on a nice sun protection hat.

5) Avoid the sun from 11 a.m. to 15 p.m.
Having a nap or a nice little sunbathe on the foredeck is a nice idea – unless you do this around noon. Approximately 80 to 90 percent of ultraviolet rays come down between 11 a.m. and 15 p.m. As the water surface reflects these rays, you are even more exposed to them on a sailboat. So better spend some time in the shade of the bimini.

6) Clouds don´t protect you from the sun
Though the worst sunburn of my life happened seven years ago, the memory is still painfully vivid: I was crewing at a regatta in the BVI. It was a rainy day, the sky was cloudy, and I even felt a little chill while hiking. When we arrived in the harbour, my knees were already swollen and had changed to the color of freshly boiled lobster. The only way to cope was standing in the water like a flamingo. Sleeping, sitting, walking – everything was painful.
I don´t want you to experience the same, so please mind that a thin layer of clouds doesn´t keep the UV rays off. On the contrary, certain cloud formations can even increase the force of UV rays.

7) Wear a UV protection shirt while diving and snorkelling
Half a metre below the water surface, the strength of the UV rays is still at 40 percent. A simple cotton tee, especially when wet, doesn´t offer enough protection of your back. Special UV protection shirts are the smarter deal, as they block the majority of UV rays. They are available at sports outfitters or at special diving or sailing stores. Give attention to a relatively loose fit: Stretched garments may let more UV rays pass.

8) Your eyes also require protection
After a long day in the sun, your eyes may be affected by a light conjunctivitis. It will pass quickly, but if you expose your eyes to the sun for a longer time, you risk diseases like eye cataract. So better wear sunglasses.
You can´t see from the color of the glass if a pair of sunnies offers good UVA and UVB protection. The best quality characteristic is the CE mark which is mostly found on the inside of the frame and which proves that the glasses fulfil a certain protection standard. Be careful with "100 percent UV protection" or "UV400" – these so-called quality characteristics are not checked by an independent institution.
You may have noticed that most sailors in summertime are wearing a nice “panda bear look”: their face is tanned, while the area around the eyes is plain white. This look is caused by sunglasses with a bent frame and broad side pieces. They are the best choice to protect the sensitive eye region from sun, wind chill and salt water.
 
 
 
Felix Wolf
f.wolf@yachtbooker.com

Felix Wolf is co-founder and owner of YachtBooker. He is a charter skipper himself and enjoys discovering new sailing areas.

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