I don't like to wear gloves, for I lose the touch of the helm and the feel of the sheets -- and these are inputs that tell me when I am in the groove and when I am not. I recommend sailing with bare hands, because you get a better sense of what the boat is telling you. Working a piece of rope back and forth in your hands while you are ashore is one way to toughen them up.
On the other hand Live Sail Die had an article recently about a Laser Radial Sailor whose hands bore the marks of damage from sailing.
The torn and blistery skin was a pale white with prominent salty stains and wrinkles, a soft, yet rough surface which would crumble if manual labour were called upon. These sailor's hands were the victim of a 20 knot southerly and a mainsheet that took no prisoners.
And I'm sure I remember an article a few years ago by a medical doctor and top Sunfish sailor, Len Ruby, who recommended wearing full finger gloves all the time while sailing because of the risk of severe long term consequences caused by those apparently temporary blisters and sores.
I'm in the middle ground on this issue. I'll wear gloves when frostbiting because it's so frigging cold. And I will wear gloves in heavy weather otherwise I will damage my hands. But in lighter winds I do like to sail bare-handed to be able to feel the tiller and sheet better as Melges recommends.
What do you think? Are you a "bare hands at all time" kind of guy? Should I be more like Buddy and find a piece of old rope and start toughening up my palms while watching TV?