A group in Buffalo, New York is sponsoring the first World Naked Sailing Day today. Buffalo is on Lake Erie so there are no shortage of sailboats for those who wish take “bareboating” to a whole new level. The organizers suggest that August 1, or 8/1, is an auspicious date as the number 8 turned sideways might suggest a woman’s breasts, while the number 1 is the most phallic of Arabic numbers. Apparently, the event was inspired by World Naked Bike Riding Day and World Naked Gardening Day.
World Naked Sailing Day seems like a remarkably bad idea to me. Don’t get me wrong, I like naked. I have spent considerable time on nude beaches appropriately déshabillé and will do so again as the opportunity presents itself. Nevertheless, I don’t think I will be sailing nude anytime soon, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with modesty. First, I burn easily and applying sun screen effectively everywhere that can burn takes time and care. It is amazing how much the parts you miss can hurt when they do inevitably burn.
My second concern are the many bumps, bruises and scrapes I acquire in even just a weekend’s sailing. No big deal, but a consideration. Clothing is reasonably effective protection for the sensitive parts, not just against sunburn but also against rope burns, knocks, battering and pinches by lines, coamings, shackles and winch handles. Also, if I am sailing naked, where do I clip the lanyard for my rigging knife?
My guess is that the organizers of the event are not experienced sailors. Newell Nussbaumer writes in Buffalo Rising, “In order to get WNSD off the ground, we needed to rent a sailboat.” So, this event may be enthusiasm untainted by experience.
There are lots of good reasons to get naked. I am just not sure that sailing is necessarily one of them. Once the anchor is down and set, that may be a different matter.