Naked sailing: The bare facts

Cruising small boats in sunny climes involves a great deal of nudity. It sometimes seems like the sailing kit of choice is SPF40 sun tan lotion and a hat. If it rains you take off the hat and reach for the shampoo.

It’s amazing how quickly inhibitions disappear under the spell of sunny skies, gin-clear water, sandy beaches and exotic rum drinks. Freedom in all its manifestations is why we’re here and we aren’t going to miss a bit of it, we’re getting our kit off.

In any remote anchorage in the Bahamas or the Caribbean the hour or so before sunset is an extravaganza of naked sailors. On deck, on the boarding platform, even in the dinghy, there are glistening bodies going through the afternoon shower ritual. Some perform under a sun-warmed shower bag hanging from a halyard, others have luxurious plumbed-in deck showers and others do it all with salt water and a final rinse of fresh water from a spray bottle. It’s all good.

Any time of the day you’ll find naked people walking the beaches or pottering around on deck doing the daily chores. Even at beach parties it isn’t long before the more laid back revellers discard their fancy-dress costumes – after all, just how comfortable can coconut-shell bras and grass skirts be? And if you haven’t seen a naked limbo competition you haven’t lived.

Public nudity in the Bahamas and the Virgin Islands is illegal, of course, so you won’t be walking around Nassau in a thong, but in the more remote places no-one seems to care. An all-over tan is the badge of a long-term cruiser – been there, done that, lost the tee shirt. (Got the malignant melanoma, too, so make sure you take all the appropriate precautions).