by Molly Winans
One thing you do not hear sailors say is: “I can’t wait to go sailing on Saturday and spend six hours on my rear end.” That they are excited to get some fresh air, yes. Sun and wind on the face, definitely. Some solid sitting time? Sailors tend to skip that part. It might be denial. Unless you are a dinghy racer on a windy day, in which case you work your leg and core muscles with hiking straps and trapezes, you are probably spending most of your sailing hours sitting, and in August, waiting.
Even in windy months, phrases such as “butt cleat” and “rail meat,” the widespread usage of padded shorts, and the hefty price for marine cushions are further proof that we sailors spend serious time on our duffs. We don’t advertise how often we sit around, as it is not terribly adventurous; but it is inevitable, especially in a season known for slow sailing.
When the Chesapeake Bay’s dog days arrive, some sailors opt for alternate activities, such as a day at the beach, a camping trip, a lawn concert. What may enhance such activities? Cool chairs, of course. One summer, when a bank sign en route to Rehoboth Beach read 97 degrees by 11 a.m., we tested our new Sport-Brella Chair DLX for the first time in the hot sand.
What initially appealed to me about the chair was the swiveling umbrella. The sun has been my friend for long enough for us to act like siblings; we have our battles. I am losing, but I have befriended wide-brimmed hats, biminis, and my new 50 SPF Sunbrella sun shade that can be rotated 360 degrees and tilted as the sun and breeze shift.
The umbrella is smart, but the bells and whistles are what give the chair’s owner bragging rights and make it an awesome gift for the outdoorsy soul who has everything. Who else at your neighborhood concert in the park has a built-in thermal pouch big enough to fit four 12-ounce beer cans below the cup holder of the padded armrest? How about an attached bottle opener, a pouch for an iPod and opening for the headphones, a lumbar roll, and a removable ottoman? True, it isn’t the cheapest, but I figured my other beach chair was a hand-me-down, with the only benefit being that it still works. No sun shade, no beer cooling capabilities, no footrest.
We could only find two areas of improvement for the Sport-Brella Chair. Lugging the packed 12-pound sleeve down the beach would feel less cumbersome with a padded strap… or temperatures below 90 degrees. Swimmers may find that water pools on the seat, so some sort of drain may help. Or a towel.
When it comes to my favorite chairs, this new one almost ties with the top chair for most of my weekends: the West Marine Go Anywhere Chair.
They bill it as an “all-in-one cushion, seat, and recliner” with a “heavy-duty ratcheting hinge” for five reclining positions. What this means in real life is that you can sit up straight and comfortably as you eat a nice dinner in the cockpit, drag it over to soften your seat while you steer the boat, recline and relax as your first mate steers, ratchet it flat and take a nap on it in, ratchet it back up and watch fireworks or the sunset from the bow, take it off the boat and carry it to the maritime museum concert, and stow it easily. But, no umbrella, no mini-cooler. Eventually, those ratcheting hinges bust a spring and make the chair go permanently flat. Sigh.
It is nice to have options, though, however imperfect, because man, it’s hot. Am I right that most of us will venture outside, anyway? Let’s relax and remember how nice it is to slow down, sit down, and spend time with our friends, even if to just wait for wind.
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