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PostPosted: Tue Apr 30, 2013 7:21 am 
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Joined: Mon May 09, 2005 10:25 am
Posts: 2518
Location: Jersey Shore
Murph_PEI wrote:
You don't mess around with the cold....You don't realize how fast your body becomes useless (and eventually the mind) until it happens to you.


There was an interesting video clip/article I saw a few years ago. It basically showed how it is impossible to die from hypothermia in cold water unless you're wearing a life jacket. If you aren't wearing a life jacket, you will drown well before you die of hypothermia since the cold water will cause your arms and legs to stop functioning, so you won't be able to swim. Moral of the story, be sure to dress appropriately but also be sure to wear a life jacket.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 30, 2013 7:37 am 
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Location: Nepean S.C. Ottawa, Canada
SRM....right on.....

About 18 years ago, at this time of year, we had a bad situation at the Club I now sail out of...fourteen youngsters (in their early 20's), took dad's 22' sailboat out in NW 30 knots when there was a small craft advisory flag flying. There was also much beer on board. Not a good mix.

Once around the breakwater, the small sailboat capsized, and two passengers died. One survivor was picked up in 12 feet of water, still concious, but totally 'paralysed' by cold/hypothermia. She said afterwards that within 90 seconds, her arms and her legs and her lungs just stopped working. Her recovery was remarkably quick, like overnight in hospital.

At those temperatures, the body starts to conserve energy, and just plain shuts down. Scares the hell out of me.

The sad part is that the lawyers got involved, and it ended up that the dad was forced to sue the son so they could get insurance money.....so they could pay the lawyers.

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1989 Hobie SX18 Sail # 1947
'Only two things are infinite, the universe, and human stupidity. But I'm not sure about the former.'


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 30, 2013 9:24 am 
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Location: san diego
Murph, SRM, John... I am so glad that you're sharing your stories & experiences with us. We can't overemphasize the importance of being safe, using good judgement, and staying within our comfort zone. That includes not only our respect for natural forces, but also inspecting our boats. Check both the standing rigging and running rigging on a regular basis, and check for overhead wires before stepping your mast-even if you do have a comptip. Dress appropriately and always wear a life jacket. Let's all keep our sport/recreational activity fun and exciting; but also safe.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 30, 2013 11:12 am 
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John Lunn wrote:
he said afterwards that within 90 seconds, her arms and her legs and her lungs just stopped working. Her recovery was remarkably quick, like overnight in hospital.

At those temperatures, the body starts to conserve energy, and just plain shuts down. Scares the hell out of me.



What happens in cold water is the blood is redirected to the core ie to the central part of the body the torso, and away from the extremities such as limbs. This means as you described that arms and legs very quickly become non functional through a lack of blood supply and thus oxygen to the muscles. You lose the functionality of fingers and toes 1st (you often hear of survivors telling how they suddenly couldn't us either fingers to do zips or load flares etc or other things that may have helped their situation), rapidly followed by the limbs themselves. As SRM described you then drown for lack of being able to keep yourself afloat. Sometimes people will pass out 1st through lack of blood flow to the brain although I'm not aware the body deliberately shuts the brain down. I rather think the latter happens more when you have life jacket support than when you are unsupported although I can't back this up with any evidence.

The point to be made overall though is hypothermia can take you down very quickly. One minute you could be cold having eg clambered back into the boat and thinking your safe and the next minute you could find yourself unable to sail it through being unable to use your fingers to grip items such as sheets or the tiller, and that's assuming you even get back aboard. The cold deserves a lot of respect and that's where a wetsuit can really save your life.


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PostPosted: Sat May 04, 2013 9:33 am 
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Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2011 12:26 pm
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Location: Harsens Island, Michigan
Since I started this post, and wanted to be informed to keep myself and my daughter safe, I am very thankful for all of the information. I feel very badly that in the end I disregarded all of it.

We BOUGHT a wet suit for her locally on the way to the lake, but they didn't have my size. It was so warm and beautiful that day, in the end she didn't even wear hers. We DID wear good lifejackets. I think in the shallow bay it was warmer than I thought, because there were two times that I went into water too shallow to steer and got into irons. My solution both times was to just step off the boat in knee deep water and turn us back the right way and fill the sails with wind. It was cold, but not painful for a minute or two each time.

Out in the center of the bay it was still only waist deep, and that really affected my decision to not make her wear the wetsuit. With the warm sun shining, I felt I wouldn't have to worry too much about our core temps even if we ended up getting seperated from the boat. We could easily walk back to the house without going any deeper.

If I were planning to go out of the bay into the lake, or there had been more wind, I would have not gone without protection for myself, and my daughter would have completely been willing to wear her wetsuit as well.

Thanks again, and good sailing!

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1979 Hobie 16 "Orange Crusher"
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PostPosted: Sat May 04, 2013 6:10 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 14, 2011 5:14 pm
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Location: Covington, Louisiana
Your groin, under arms and head lose the most heat. The big issue is how fast water transfers heat vs air and if your actively swimming your flushing water past the groin and under arms.

This is from US Navy water survival training and US Merchant Marine water survival training, I have taught USCG/USMM approved courses in water survival and I am an active USMM ship master. I was in the Navy back in the 90s.

If you can keep your feet and hands warm that will help as well. Keeping my feet warm makes all the difference for me!!!

I used to use a Body Glove full suit with the smooth and flexible panels back about 20 years ago and I loved it, warm and not constricting, I think I will go with Body Glove again when it comes time to get a wet suit. The prices are not too bad.


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