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The construction of an onion is a very similar technique to how you keep warm onboard Maiden: layers. Many, many layers. Not only do onions use the ingenious layering system, their outer layer is always rugged and almost waterproof – just like putting on your foul weather gear!
Without the luxury of heating onboard, thermals and a good layering system are essential. Another way to keep warm onboard is to keep ‘doing’; this can be anything from tidying the lines or emptying the bilges. Helming is also good exercise, especially with the waves we have been facing in the Mediterranean of all places! My personal favourite method is to go check the engine, because the engine bay is always toasty and dry.
Something that onions don’t have are feet, they do get a battering when sailing! Avoiding trench foot is very important, but also very challenging on a wet boat. Somethings that I’ve found to help is to regularly change your socks, and to keep reusable pocket warmers in your sleeping bag.
Now you’ve got all these layers on, you’ve just come off watch and you’ve got to remove them. This is much harder than it sounds and always takes way too long. Luckily there’s always some one to watch you fall over in the process and either have a good giggle or help you back up!