By Kevin Tate
Every outdoors enthusiast has heard official warnings of the sun’s dangers countless times. One thing extended experience teaches is, it’s advice worth heeding. From sun protective clothing to advanced sunscreens, there’s never been a better time to take cover than right now.
“I’ve worn gators and gloves for five years or more,” Mike Whitten, 62, of Germantown, Tenn., said of his time on the water. “I’ve worn long pants longer than that. I haven’t had a bad sunburn now in 30 years and I see a dermatologist once a year.”
Whitten spends 70 days per year fishing, dividing his time between freshwater and the salt. Although he covers up for the purpose of protection, he says it’s not the burden it might appear to be.
“With the clothes designed for this, when you start to sweat, the clothes actually make you cooler than you’d be without them,” he said.
“The clothing really is cooler,” Chuck Hannaford, 63, of Collierville, Tenn., said. He and Whitten are believers in the reality of sun damage because they’ve had to have a number of pre-cancerous places on their skin removed, and they were the lucky ones.
“I’ve lost a couple friends,” Capt. Tony Murphy, of Key West, Fla., said. “Melanoma is a killer. It’s not like we don’t know it kills us, so we might as well cover up.”
Originally from London, England, Murphy moved to Florida in 1986 at age 19 and found a home along the Gulf Stream as a commercial fisherman and, later, a sportfishing guide. Today he still takes clients aboard the Key Limey 45 days per year and owns The Saltwater Angler, a retail enterprise geared toward those who love life on the water.
“Every garment we have in the store has a UPF rating,” Murphy said.
UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor, a different scale of measurement from the Sun Protection Factor, or SPF, of sunscreens. Similarly though, the higher the number, the more protection the rated garment has to offer.
Fabrics with advanced wicking action designed to remove sweat and aid in its evaporation have been around for a long time, and their inclusion in garments made specifically to protect the wearer from the sun was a natural. The first suggestion offered by the Skin Cancer Foundation is to seek the shade, so it’s only logical any garment that blocks the sun would provide significant protection, but the comfort offered by those made of special wicking fabrics offers a key draw.
“I still get up and put on 50 to 80 SPF sunscreen,” Whitten said.
While effective at offering protection from the sun, concerns have arisen in many quarters that many sunscreens contain chemicals that are themselves harmful to the skin. Advanced sunscreens designed to avoid this issue can be easily found and include such brands as Beyond Coastal, Raw Elements, Sunology and Badger to name a few.
“It’s really not any trouble to take a few precautions,” Murphy said. “Anyone who’s been out here a while knows it’s worth it.”
To fish with Capt. Murphy, call 305-293-1814 or visit Keylimey.com.
Avoid long-term health effects of sun damage
By Kevin Tate