Cold Water Workshop at the Small Boat Shop, South Norwalk, CT. February 9, 2008. 10:30 & Gaeton welcomes everyone to the day's activity.
The first part of the workshop involved a couple of very good, instructive presentations. First up, Chuck Sutherland, who maintains my favorite cold-water boating info site. I've heard him speak before, but hearing about the various stages & how they should be dealt with (or even better, avoided in the first place) is always a good review.
Once Chuck finished up with his discussion of symptoms & treatment of cold shock & hypothermia, the talk moved on to how NOT to have to deal with it. First there was a runthrough of some ways to find others to paddle with in CT, then Suzanne Hutchinson, the area Kokatat rep, gave a good talk about what to wear for all sorts of conditions. She covered the gamut just out of her own personal wardrobe. Here's a short-sleeved rash guard for skin protection & the most minimal of extra insulation, suitable for summer outerwear -
Pogies! These are like mittens with a hole for the paddleshaft -- they stay on the paddle & you can put your hands in or take them out as you see fit. She likes to put just one on the paddle when the weather starts cooling - she finds that a lot of the time just one hand gets cold first. The pogie mostly stays rolled up in the middle of the shaft but it's there when she needs it.
Storm cag - nice piece to just carry, it goes on over everything so you can just toss it on if you get chilly. It's got a wide skirt that cinches to the coaming right over the sprayskirt.
Putting on the storm cag - right over everything.
Everything got passed around so you could take a look. This storm cag had nice fleece-lined pockets, so you can keep your hands warm if you have to stop paddling - also inside this pocket there's a zipper that lets you get to your PFD.
After the gear talk, there was a lunch break - then time to go swimming! Suzanne had brought a bunch of drysuits along. She started by demonstrating how to put one of these things on - this can actually be a sort of claustrophobic experience if you haven't done it before, so this in itself was part of the workshop.
Here are the intrepid swimmers on the dock. TQ & I started with a couple of rolls, then rescues. First rescue was your basic T-rescue -
Then TQ did a paddle-float rescue -
Then I wanted to jump in again -
so I did a cowboy rescue - cowboy part 1 - -
Cowboy part 2 - giddyup, horse!
Cowboy part 3, back in the boat.
OK, enough showing off, now who's gonna jump in with us?
There goes our first brave soul...
And a couple more -
I wonder what those dry people on the next dock think! I bet they're jealous -
Because we were having fun!
They're laughing at me because I don't want to come out.
The water's fine! At least if you're dressed for it. Actually it was 39 degrees. The Small Boat Shop has actually run this with ice in the river - that would be something to try, but as it is, I think this is the coldest water I've ever done rolling & rescue practice, let alone just swimming, and I was glad to have the chance to test the gear this way under safe conditions. Good stuff, and fun!
More fun, back in the shop - me & TQ having a kayak-ninja moment! Black drysuits, we just couldn't help it. Too bad we never have any fun, isn't it?
Next day, back in Brooklyn - no paddling today! Whitecaps on the Paerdegat - don't think I ever saw that before!
Windy day in Canarsie.