Bring Your Sunscreen: Nude Sailing

Nude Sailing is winning more and more fans every year. It might elicit a feeling of awkwardness among newbies, but it has developed into a major branch within the cruising and bareboating industries. From people who just enjoy sailing naked to sometimes indecent “adult cruises”, there is quite a variety in approaches of naturists to boats. In this article, I aim to outline different aspects of nude sailing and refer to relevant agents and organizations.

A brief internet search on the phrase “nude sailing” reveals how many companies and organizations there are that are involved with some aspect of naked sailing. But what is it about, that people are fascinated by naked folks offshore? Personally, I assume that most of the interest in the topic arises from the hope of finding rude pictures and photos of naked girls with the major search engines – you will quite quickly be disappointed if you do that. Most photos show elderly men with beer bellies in all their natural beauty. So nude sailing can’t be all about sex – can it?

First and most importantly, it is useful to discriminate between two different aspects of the topic: The one is dealing with people that consider it to be liberating to drop clothes in a relaxed environment such as aboard of a yacht in warm weather. People like that call themselves naturists or nudists and can be organized in associations, private individuals or corporations specializing on this specific target group. Naturists generally do not attribute sex to nudity.

The history of naturism and the nudist movement

On the other hand – which would lead us to the second aspect of the topic – there are many people who consider sex as the main motivation for a cruise and there are many “corporations” that organize adult vacations, adding a somewhat dubious touch to the nude sailing thing. For them, sex is not only attributed to nudity, but the main thing. Of course there are many graded steps between these two aspects; however, I would like to focus on naturist sailing in a non-sexual sense.

So what is it all about? In the historical sense, nudity has been constrained to the most intimate and private environments such as bathrooms and bedrooms until well into the 20th century. In the 1960ies, many young people in North America and Europe revolted against traditional views on nudity and with the hippie-movement, the general view of the western societies changed with respect to nudity. At the same time, sailing became more accessible than ever before, as new materials allowed manufacturers to sell boats for relatively little money.

Regardless of how natural it might feel for you to be naked even among strangers – in all countries of the World there are customs and laws regulating public nudity. From the beginning – so basically ever since the 1960ies – the naturists movement has always been a closed community that limited its activities to private properties or resorts, beaches or sport clubs specifically dedicated to their needs and wishes.

Why do people want to sail naked?

This is very easy to achieve on a yacht: It is by itself somewhat closed and private, it is generally involved with the seaside and the combination of sun and vacation-touch causes many people to feel naturally comfortable with wearing no clothes. These reasons contributed to the pioneering role that sailing took in the promotion of nudism once the “political” message behind it dropped in importance.

By the late 1970ies, the naturist community had finally cut the ties with the politically motivated, more revolutionary hippie-movement. National naturist associations had formed in many countries especially in Europe and the economic potential of this new group of naked sailors started to make an impact on the tourism industry. Bareboating and cruise companies started to organize special naturist cruises and in certain areas could spend “classic” beach vacations with sailing, tennis, hiking and swimming all naked on dedicated beaches. You can still estimate the spirit of these days in areas where naturism is still very prominent, such as the coast of Croatia.

In the United States, nudism is less popular than in Europe. This is probably because prostitution is illegal in most of the US and many people involved with the sex industries abuse the label of “naturism” to cover the organization of sex tourism. This makes it sometimes hard to evaluate what companies from the US are about – if in doubt, just ask! Nevertheless, there are big naturist communities in the US. The biggest centers are clearly in California and the Southwest, but in a more concentrated sense also on the East Coast and around the Great Lakes. Bareboating companies in the Caribbean often specialize on nude sailing tours and offer special deals that specifically target US customers.

Nude sailing enters mass tourism and the cruise industry

By the 1980ies, the naturist market has been consolidated. Since then, there was little growth and I think this is mostly because the societies at least in North America and Europe have become generally more relaxed and tolerant towards nudity. For me, naturism will keep its 1980ies flavor, which you can sense best in hubs like Croatia. If you are planning to do some nude sailing yourself, you are probably best advised to check with national naturist associations and ask them for specific recommendations. There are some travel agents that specialize on nude cruises, but objective advice from organizations is always helpful.

If you haven’t spent a vacation in the World of naturists before, you might want to try small communities first. You can always rent a boat for you and some family or friends to check whether you do feel comfortable with that at all – most people do feel a little awkward at first, but then enjoy their nudity and perceive it as liberating. However, it is not very nice if you find out that you hate it when you have just headed off for a three-week cruise.

Another thing you should keep in mind when you are choosing a bareboating company or cruise agent for a nude sailing vacation is hygiene. It sounds like common sense, but especially if you have doubts regarding the sanitary standards on a boat: bring a towel to sit on. Furthermore, remember that you expose some parts of your body that normally don’t see an awful lot of sunlight; make sure you bring sufficient amounts of sunscreen. There is hardly anything more unpleasant in the World than sunburn on your butt! (Believe me, I can tell – and you DON’T want to see the pictures).

Further Reading

Back to "vacation"

"Nude Sailing: A First Hand Experience"

Open Directory Project on Nudism

Nudist Club register and general info