"Old Fashoned Oilskins Were Usually Made Of Cotton And Soaked In Linseed Oil..."

OilskinsFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Oilskin referred originally to a type of fabric - canvas with, literally, a skin of oil applied to it as waterproofing, often linseed oil. They are commonly known as 'oilies' Old types of oilskin included:-

* Sailcloth waterproofed with a thin layer of tar. * Heavy cotton cloth waterproofed with linseed oil.

These days, *oilskins* or oilies means the foul-weather gear worn by sailors, made of modern and often quite advanced fabrics.

Although a few all-in-one (boilersuit-shaped)) oilskin suits are available, most sailors prefer the flexibility of a separate jacket and trousers. The trousers are very high-cut to provide a large overlap with the jacket and prevent water entering through the join. It is common in moderate weather, however, to wear only the trousers (as in the right of the photo) and their high cut then provides wind and water protection to the lower part of the torso. Shoulder straps are provided to hold the trousers up. Straps around the bottom of the trouser legs let them be tightened around sea-boots, providing a semi-watertight join. While this does not let them be used like fishing waders, a wave sweeping briefly across the deck will generally not penetrate. All but the cheapest oilskin trousers will be reinforced across the seat and the knees.

Jackets are similar in many ways to waterproofs used for walking. The most visible difference is that they usually have a much higher collar intended to keep out spray, and in many cases to warm the ears or even the whole head! A fold-away hood will be provided, almost always in a high-visibility colour since the head will be the only part showing above the water if the sailor should be lost overboard. Retro-reflective patches on the shoulders are often provided for the same reason. The cuffs of better jackets include an inner seal, something like that on a drysuit, to prevent water getting in if a wave is forced up the sleeve. This is less important in walking jackets since in walking on land the arms usually point down away from the rain; but this nuisance can happen in motorcycling where the arms holding the handlebars point forwards into a wet head-wind.

Pockets on trousers and jackets are often lined with a synthetic fleece material designed to be quick-drying and warm even when soaked. Most sailing consists of bursts of hard work between periods of relative inactivity; hunched up with hands in pockets is a common pose in bad weather during the inactive parts, and soft linings help keep the hands warm. A recent innovation is removable soft linings, enabling them to be washed.

Some jackets include built-in harnesses; typically just a strap around the chest which a lifeline can be clipped to during very bad weather. This avoids the need to wear a separate harness, but may be less safe than a modern separate harness which includes a lifejacket. More expensive jackets may also act as a lifejacket. A few jackets contain equipment like lights, flares, and an emergency radio beacon.

Here's what Jack London had to say:

Edited by E. Haldeman-Julius

Stories of Ships and the Sea

Jack London


Copyright, 1922,By Charmian London.

"God help the boats! It's no gale! It's a typhoon!" the sailing-master shouted to Chris at eleven o'clock. "Too much canvas! Got to get two more reefs into the mainsail, and got to do it right away!"

He glanced at the old captain, shivering in oilskins at the binnacle and holding on for dear life. "There's only you and I, Chris--and the cook; but he's next to worthless!"

In order to make the reef, it was necessary to lower the mainsail, and the removal of this after pressure was bound to make the schooner fall off before the wind and sea because of the forward pressure of the jib.

"Take the wheel!" the sailing-master directed. "And when I give the word, hard up with it! And when she's square before it, steady her! And keep her there! We'll heave to again as soon as I get the reefs in!"

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