We originally thought that Maddie wouldn't need foulies because she doesn't have to work in foul weather, I get to do that! When we are hit by a storm, I'm the one that goes forward to secure the headsails and set the reefs, I'm also the one who is at the helm as we heave to. I take the winds and the rains, which is why I have my foulies.
Maddie gets to hide under the dodger, protected from the wind and waves, where she can keep an eye on me while I work. If I were to need help, she would quickly jump to the task, but I usually don't so she can stay where it is very safe and very dry. In the interest of conserving our funds, we elected not to purchase foulies for Maddie.
Then we got caught in a gale out in the Chesapeake Bay with heavy rains which were being blown sideways by the intense winds. Maddie was safely tucked away behind the dodger, but the torrential rains crept right in Maddie got completely soaked. Meanwhile, I was getting rained on and staying completely dry with my foulies on.
You might be wondering what is so bad with getting a little wet, you are on a boat after all? Yes, people use boats to go out on the water and then go swimming, where they get completely soaked. The difference lies with the conditions when the wetting occurs: wet from swimming occurs when you want it and for as long as you want it to, wet from foul weather occurs when it happens and for as long as it will occur for.
You will probably choose to go swimming when the sun is shining and the air is warm. Getting wet will actually cool you off and keep you comfortable. Foul weather is rarely this enjoyable. The sun is blocked out by the storm clouds and a chilling air will come over the water. Instantly, you will begin to feel cold and the storm hasn't even hit yet. The cold rain will pour down on you and the strong winds will cause you to cool even more as your wet skin attempts to evaporate the surface water.
When you are swimming and begin to feel cold, you can simply climb out of the water and get back on the boat to warm up! In a storm, you have no control over how long the weather will last for. You might begin to feel really cold in the beginning and soon begin to shiver, but the storm will continue for hours as you miserably await the end.
Enter the Foulies! Foul weather gear's main purpose is to keep you dry. If you can stay dry you can also keep warm and comfortable. The ability to keep dry transforms the frigid rain from a discomfort to a nuisance that you have to wait out. As soon as the storm passes, you can shed your foulies and continue on while keeping completely dry and warm during the whole ordeal.
We bought bib-shorts and a jacket for Maddie at the boat show, taking advantage of the great discounts. The vendors will also bring the price down a bit further if you are paying in cash!
Maddie's foulies are not as robust as mine, but at the same time she will not be exposed to the same severity of weather as I am. It's not that I don't trust Maddie to carry out the tasks that I perform, but instead that I don't want to put her in that risk.
Going forward during bad weather is not a cake walk. The seas are throwing the boat around and the full force of the wind is hitting you. In really severe weather, waves can actually break over the deck and the force of the water can sweep you off your feet! This is why it is terribly important to clip in to the jacklines when going forward! I have everything rigged at the mast, so I usually only need to go as far as the mast during heavy weather. Standing on the cabin top while tucking in a late reef in large seas and high winds can be very challenging. The motion of the boat is accentuated since you are standing higher up and you can feel a little uneasy in these settings. I stand on the high side (windward side) of the deck so if I fall, I can catch myself on the mast or hang on the leeward lifelines when my tether stops me (which is clipped to the windward jackline). To sum it up, it is not fun and I don't want to put Maddie in this situation if I am able to do it for her.
Therefore, originally only I had foul weather gear since she could hide behind the dodger. Once we found that she could get very wet and cold in her hiding place, we decided to purchase her some light duty foul weather gear.