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PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2012 5:44 am 
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As my luck always goes, I will be doing some work for a dive shop and now have access (at a reduced price) to good gear!!!! I, too, tend to err on the side of caution.... Growing up sailing here you learn to respect the ocean. Still love any thoughts and ideas from all .... Thanks, again. Safe boating, Lula


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 8:13 pm 
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Location: Moab, Utah
Hi Lula,

I'll second cnnashman. Maine ocean temperatures in December are in the 40-45 degree range. This is seriously deadly dangerous stuff! An inadvertent dunking (which can happen in lots of ways) or a sudden storm will leave you instantly at peril if you are not prepared. First, abandon any thoughts of swimming to shore if you are unable to quickly re-enter your kayak. Swimming or any exertion pulls heat from your body much more quickly than simply floating, plus the shock of the cold will soon disable you, plus swimming with a PFD on is not very practical--and you're certainly not going to remove it, are you?

So you have to, #1, be dressed for immersion (and, ideally, for longer than you expect to be immersed), and #2 have a well-functioning and well-practiced method of re-entering your boat.

A true drysuit with proper underlayers is clearly the safest garb for your neck of the ocean. Lacking that, you need a FULL wetsuit. I have never used waders and, without wishing to sound disrespectful of other posters, I don't like the sound of them. The purpose of a well-fitting wetsuit is #1 to prevent flushing: yes, water enters the suit, but in a good suit it pretty much sits there next to the skin, where your body warms it and (for the #2 purpose of a wetsuit) where the neoprene insulates it regardless of being wet. In contrast, waders are just big buckets: they don't stop the water sloshing and flowing over your body and stealing away heat, and they don't provide any insulation themselves.

My second concern about waders is that they are big buckets (and fly fishermen and ocean clamdiggers do occasionally die as a result of that). If you are not wearing a semi-dry top, like Sherminator suggests, your waders, unlike rain pants, will fill up with water like buckets and the weight will make it even harder for you to reenter your boat (and once you get inside, the waders will still have a lot of water sloshing around, with no way to drain it). If you are wearing a semi-dry top and are in the water for a significant amount of time, say from shock or injury or difficulty reentering your boat, you will probably find out fairly soon why they are called semi-dry tops, i.e., they will leak around the waist when your waist is submerged, or, heaven forbid, will leak around the collar if your neck is submerged if you have a neoprene seal. Semi-dry tops are designed primarily for river kayaking, where if your garment leaks you have shore nearby all the time to bail you out. The best of them have fold-over rubber flaps to mate with spray skirts; you won't have that.

My other objection to the garments suggested here (except the drysuit) is that they all rely on fleece fleece fleece for warmth. Fleece is great under a drysuit, but once it's soaked, as in waders, it will provide very little insulation compared to neoprene (when backpackers say fleece and wool still keep you warm when wet in comparison to cotton, they don't mean when it's completely soaked, they only mean that they will hold less water than cotton when allowed to drain). Fleece worn under neoprene will only contribute to water flushing though your suit, since the fleece is porous and doesn't seal tightly against your skin. You don't hear about scuba divers wearing fleece under their wetsuits. If they need extra warmth, they go to a thicker neoprene or add a neoprene jacket. Ask the divers at your shop.

I suggested a FULL wetsuit (vs. farmer jane and jacket) because it is the most effective in preventing flushing. A farmer jane will definitely be better than waders, but not as good as a full suit. With a full suit you can (and will in Maine) add a jacket for additional neoprene warmth, but I doubt you'll put a jacket over a jacket over a farmer jane.

You are probably going to want at least a 4-mm full suit plus a 3 mm jacket plus paddling (Goretex-type) jacket and pants for Maine. I use a 3/2 most of the time (3 mm over torso and upper legs, 2 over lower legs and arms) with a 3 mm jacket added sometimes (plus paddling jacket and splash pants over that), but I wouldn't consider that adequate for temps in the low 40s like you'll have.

And don't forget your feet: you'll want insulating neoprene boots for sure. I wear Seal Skinz waterproof/breathable socks over wool socks; if you get the right model (I forget which it is) and use them carefully according to instructions and put the bottom of your wetsuit legs over them to help them seal, they will often stay dry inside full immersion, sometimes not; even if they don't keep all the water out, they do add warmth by reducing flushing.

A warm wool, or better yet neoprene, head covering will greatly increase your safety factor because it reduces the initial cold shock that can kill you by causing you to involuntarily inhale water, as cnnashman says. I've taken to wearing a rubber swimming pool cap for this purpose when in colder waters.

Three final notes:
1. If you do want to wear a rash guard under your wetsuit, polypropylene is far superior to the polyester most manufacturers now use. You won't notice while you're in the water, but you sure will when you get out of the water and in camp if you're camping (or when you get out of your suit if you never get dunked). Polypropylene absorbs a lot less water and therefore drains and dries out a LOT faster. Some manufacturers even use nylon, which is even worse than polyester. However, finding good polypropylene is difficult these days. Manufacturers switched to polyester because polypropylene had too many issues with odor retention (which can now be solved with fabric treatments, silver threads, soaking in enzyme solutions, e.g., Nature's Miracle, from the pet store, or use of the fabulous anti-microbial deodorant Lavilin).

2. On his epic kayak journey from Japan along the Kamchatka and Siberian coasts to Alaska (read "In the Wake of the Jomon"), Jon Turk and his companions used drysuits for the first half but then switched to wetsuits. Unfortunately, he didn't say why (maybe too fragile over such a long journey through remote country?).

3. When I meet people interested in serious sea kayaking (not just shoreline piddling), I always urge upon them as a starting point that they read "Sea Kayaker: Deep Trouble", by Broze and Gronseth, for accounts of some of the many ways you can die at sea. Not dressing for immersion is way up high on the list.

Be prepared, then go enjoy!


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:09 am 
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Microboater wrote:
I have never used waders and, without wishing to sound disrespectful of other posters, I don't like the sound of them.


Below is a video of what happens when you jump into cold water wearing various outfits including waders.

http://youtu.be/DtgYP3Xrhdo
How do you like the sound of that?

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:17 am 
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Dear Microboater --- Thanks for your unbelievable response! It's just what I needed and wanted. Although a winter "shoreline piddler" :D I believe in preparing for the unexpected. I left Maine YEARS ago for the simple reason sailing ended Nov. 1. Period. Although beautiful in the warmer months I still seriously long for the West, especially during damp, gray days. I think I need to be selling these yaks (because I LOVE my boat!!!) in a pleasant year round climate where a 3/2 would cover me in the worse of it. Haven't been on my boat in two weeks.... Can you tell by the morose tone of this post....? :wink: Thanks again, Lula


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 8:39 pm 
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MrGreen, thanks for the video link. I have seen this before but forgot where to find it again. I think it pretty much confirms what I said. The guy with the waders but without the drytop was pretty much miserable, and he was in the water for only a few seconds. His waders didn't fill up like buckets, but once again, notice that he was in the water for only a few seconds! With the amount of leakage he did have, he was definitely headed in the bucket direction if he were to be stalled in reentering.

With the semidrytop (and they are generally marketed as semidry, not to be confused with full drysuits) over waders, just as I said, he had leakage--and he was in the water for only a few seconds!

With the semi-drytop not over waders, he was comfortable and dry--though he was only in the water for a few seconds, and wasn't moving around much, e.g., swimming or righting an overturned boat or grabbing lost gear or just generally being discombobulated by being dunked by some big wave or fish.

This gentleman's demonstration shows the absolute ideal conditions: calm water, intentional (and mentally prepared) dunking, an obviously very athletic, lithe man who can launch himself back in his yak quickly like a seal (I sure can't!). Personally, when it comes to my life, I don't plan around absolute ideal conditions. A drysuit is best, a well-fitting wetsuit of sufficient thickness is second best. A semi-drytop over bare skin with wetsuit pants or semidry pants I would expect to rate as less safe in an offshore environment than a wetsuit, although it might be more comfortable before immersion or in brief immersions.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 8:47 pm 
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P.S. on this topic:

If you dress properly for immersion, chances are you will occasionally or even often finding yourself too warm. The standard solution is . . . get wet! Or just try dragging one hand in the water for a while (with the Hobie you can do this): your hand will act like a radiator and eventually the blood will circulate through it and cool the rest of your body.

On the SealSkinz socks, the ones I've used are called WaterBlocker: http://www.amazon.com/SealSkinz-Water-B ... B0048BOEPY. I see they are no longer listed on the SealSkinz website but are on the Danalco site: http://hanzusa.com/products/waterproof/socks/submerge/. Maybe the product traded hands. One of my pairs started to delaminate (the waterproof/breathable membrane from the polyester liner sock). Danalco just sent me a new pair for free.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:57 am 
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Living next door to Maine, and having just finished my last sail of the season (I have a Hobie 16), let me give you some thoughts and experience. These have been strengthened by the fact that during this sail I felt an urgent need to renew my membership in the Capsize Club. Air temperature was forty-five degrees with wind chill temperatures of about thirty-five. Water temperature was somewhere around thirty-two to thirty-five degrees (two days later a big chunk of the lake I live on has a layer of ice).

Clothing worn is a neoprene bottom, neoprene boots with wool socks inside, a long-sleeve splash top, and a splash jacket over the shirt. I also have on a PDF over the jacket. Dry, comfort level is very good, with a slight tendency to sweat. One control over my temperature is a wool knit cap. By removing or rolling the lower edges up, I can end up with a lot of ability to control my temperature. I do need more mobility then I would need in a kayak.

I think there are four time ranges you need to think about in dressing for cold weather immersion. The first is the actual immersion time, which is from when you fall off your boat until the time you get back on. This should be calculated on by triple the time it takes you to get back in your boat. In other words, if you think you can get back in your kayak in two minutes, think about six minutes of immersion time.

Having been a volunteer firefighter/EMT for many years, I've used extreme cold weather suits, one time for over an hour as I served as the "victim." Even in that case, the first five seconds of immersion are a lot of shock on the system. Even in a dry suit, your face is going to hit the extreme cold of the water and you're going to notice it. A lot. And if you've never done this, that first time can be very shocking, as your body reacts to that cold. Panic is not an unknown response. This will slow down your recovery time. On the flip side, you'll get a big dose of adrenaline as a result, which helps maintain body temperature.

I was actually comfortable in the water, not rushing as I uncleated the sheets, and not having any desperation to get up on the hull. Water definitely leaked in, which isn't to be surprised at. I think I could have gone several minutes without problem.

Second time is how long is it going to take you after the immersion to get to some sort of safety, i.e., warmth. There are several year round houses on my lake, and I estimate I could get to one of them within about 20 - 30 minutes. If I was in the water for ten to fifteen minutes, this would have been what I would have needed to do. The longer you're in the water, the faster you need to get to warmth.

Third time is how long is it going to take to get back to your base, either your house or your car (with a working heater). You need dry and warm clothing available at this location. If your base is a car, you need a good towel to dry yourself off with. One thing to be aware of during this time is the adrenaline that initially flushed your system is going to be wearing off.

In my case, it took me an hour and half to sail back and get to my house. This did include lowering and putting away my sails. By the time I got back to my house, I was in mild to moderate hypothermia. I was factoring in a lessening of muscle coordination and slower thought processes. Nothing major, but enough so that I knew enough to factor it into what I was doing.

One of the things that had happened while I was on the water was a decrease in air temperature by five degrees, and an increase in wind speed, resulting in a drop of the wind chill temperature. I also had to tack upwind to get home, which resulted in a lot of wind blowing over my body, causing significant heat loss. If I'd been able to get out of the wind, I would have been able to extend this time considerably. But wind chill is always a significant factor when out on the water.

As soon as I got home, I was able to engage in active external warming (hot shower) and active internal warming (cup of hot chocolate). Obviously if your base if your car, you're ability to actively engage in warming is going to be limited. But noting where the nearest place you can get coffee is probably a helpful thing to do.

To deal with this, I'm thinking an extra top capable of going on over the PDF and stowed on the boat to use after a capsize might be a good idea. It would be dry and provide a better wind break then something that had been soaked in the water.

The fourth time is the lose the boat scenario. If life goes the way we want it to, our boat won't go cruising off without you. Unfortunately, it's been known to happen. The question then becomes how far are you going to have to swim to shore. I only have about a quarter of a mile to go to shore if I capsize in the middle of the lake, but then would have significant distance to travel before getting to someone's house. On the flip side, walking on land would get me out of the wind (if you sail, you have wind, and need to include it in your equation).

In that scenario, I probably would have been in severe distress by the time I got to safety. This isn't a likely scenario, but I need to realize this is the ultimate concern. Quite honestly, I'm not sure there's a solution to this equation, but I've got to say, I won't want to go any further from shore.

I'm not sure how much this answers your question. I think some experimentation, asking other people, and some luck are involved. And being willing to try your gear in controlled situations. I'd use my sailing gear in other situations, including wading out in the lake after sails. I had a pretty good idea how it would work before I actually used it.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 1:15 pm 
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Have you looked on Ebay for a dry suit? I found one a guy used once. It is an older Whites full dry suit with boots. real expensive as you say, but I picked this one up for 200 I think wet suits are about the same.

Make sure on ebay you read all info and ask questions. The seller said the buyer would not be diappointed and he was right the siut came with the zipper wax instructions and even the WHITES stickers when he purchased it. The suit has the attached footies and I wear insulated socks and then the whites boots that came with it. My wife did get me a pair of water socks that fit over the footies for the warmer weather.

Good luck.

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"The craft is a foot bigger at port and shrinks a foot at sea."

BentRodyakker
PA14
Rockaway Beach
Oregon


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:20 pm 
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Just to clear up a point, the dry or semidry designation has to do with the neck seal. Dry tops have a latex neck seal which is watertight. The semidry has a neoprene neck seal with a velcro closure which is less watertight and more comfortable. Many of the guys I fish with who wear drysuits are actually wearing semidrysuits, because they have the neoprene neck. The video showed how a lot of air is trapped and the demonstrator floated high in the water. Many kayakers feel that an absolute watertight neck seal is not a must. (As a wader and semidrytop wearer, I obviously feel and absolute watertight waist seal is not a must have either.)

My experience so far is, I have only been in the water (unintentionally) while doing surf launches and landings, and despite being treated like a rag doll in a washing machine, I have come out dry in my wader combination. I haven't had to do a water re-entry yet. As I would be using waders in calm summer conditions anyway, I have chosen to take more risk in a tradeoff for comfort and cost.

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