Hot air, cold water

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Hot air, cold water

Post by CM2 » Wed Oct 18, 2017 5:50 pm

I've always been one who has gone with the dress for the water temperature not the air temperature and you can never be too good to assume you wont have a swim however next week I will be going to the states and doing some kayaking along with some other water activities (hiking Zion narrows, and probably a half day SUP and or a full day grade IV rafting).

The problem is on the first day the forecast is for an air temperature of 30C and a water temperature of 12C what makes it worse is the people I am hiring the kayak from don't think it is safe for people they haven't been through THEIR training to have a spray deck so to cool down I would need to get out of the kayak. The trip will be on a moving but flat water river.
The other days will have similar water temperature and air temperature of at least 20.

Has anyone paddled in such conditions?, my options are just a rash vest, a chill cheater suit or a dry suit. I find my paddling in my drysuit comfortable up to about 20C, In Scotland it rarely gets much above that. The narrows is all in shade and you are constantly in the river (even if it is only up to your knees) so I am thinking a drysuit is best for that.

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Re: Hot air, cold water

Post by PlymouthDamo » Wed Oct 18, 2017 6:51 pm

When a couple of us paddled across to Lundy, the air temperature was too hot for my liking (although probably more like 25 Celsius) whilst the water temperature in the Bristol Channel was presumably no warmer than 12. I wore a 2-piece on the way out and found it way too hot for me and I felt at risk of passing out through heat-stroke. On the way back, I wore a pair of tracksuit bottoms, a tee-shirt and an anorak, and was much happier. I was chancing on my ability to avoid a prolonged swim - I think it was the right decision for me, but that's an assessment you'd have to make for yourself.

I'm not convinced that there is any gear that could keep you comfortable for both paddling and immersion in that combination of temperatures. The only way I could see it being done would be to have liquid cooling - constantly drawing the sea-water in and around a network of tubes in a drysuit and spitting it out of an exhaust port. I don't think such a thing exists, but if someone thinks they can do it, they have my blessing to pinch my idea and take their chances on Dragons' Den.

If I were you, I'd do the following: (1) find out what kayaks the hire centre will be giving you and then beg, borrow or steal a spray deck to get around their ridiculous policy. (2) Bring both dry gear and cool non-dry gear and decide which to use on the day. (3) If using your dry gear, make sure you 'burp' the suit so it's skin-tight and either keep rolling, or filling your hat with sea water and plonking it on your head. (4) If using your cool gear, make sure you've got a bomb-proof roll, a bomb-proof re-entry roll, a bomb-proof ladder re-entry and have practiced rescues with your buddy, just to be on the safe side.

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Re: Hot air, cold water

Post by seawolf856 » Thu Oct 19, 2017 1:27 pm

Ahh, this old chestnut raises its head once again!! unfortunately, as is usual with our sport, there is no one solution on which all will agree. It is easy to extol the virtues of 'dressing for immersion' and 'dressing for the water temperature' but those of us who paddle any distance will have experienced the 'boil in the bag' syndrome, where even the most breathable, top end Goretex dry suits just can't vent sufficient moisture vapour to keep you both cool and dry when paddling hard.
Even if your roll isn't bomb proof, if you are paddling with a group with basic skills, the chances of being in the water for an extended period without rescue should be pretty low but you will not be able to avoid getting overheated if the air temp is that high. I have only been paddling for 5 years but in that time I have seen more problems caused by heatstroke than hypothermia.
For your particular forthcoming venture to the States, the conditions are particularly difficult with the air/water temp differential being so great. I would totally agree with the above suggestions by PlymouthDamo to take both options of dry and non-dry gear with you and even take them in the boat so you can change as necessary. The policy of no spray deck seems ridiculous to me too. I would definitely try and negotiate around that. If you think you will be in the water a lot you will probably be OK in the dry suit with light layers underneath.
The Uk sea temps are as high as the air temps at the moment so non dry gear is perfect. But it will soon be time to dig out the dry suit as the water dips down to single figures.

Enjoy your trip.

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Re: Hot air, cold water

Post by Chris Bolton » Thu Oct 19, 2017 3:04 pm

If the paddle is flat water, is there realistically an immersion risk? How confident are you in you paddling skills? If you did go in, how quickly can you get out and warm up, ie, river bank, other boats to assist, etc? Do your own risk assessment -I usually wear a drysuit if kayaking on the open sea in the UK, but I dress for the air temperature in an open canoe on flat water.

For Zion narrows, I'd look at what others do, somewhere like Trip Advisor. A full drysuit may be overkill, and it sounds as if you can rent dry trousers.

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Re: Hot air, cold water

Post by Allan Olesen » Thu Oct 19, 2017 3:49 pm

Will the trip be lead by the same people who have a policy against spraydecks?

If yes: Use your drysuit. Whenever you feel too hot, take a roll. Then use the necessary time for pumping the cockpit dry. When they get tired of waiting for you, they will allow you to use a spraydeck so you don't have to pump.

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Re: Hot air, cold water

Post by RichJ » Fri Oct 20, 2017 5:22 am

How much effort are you expecting on this warm trip? For me, any effort and 'boil in the bag', excessive sweating along with potential dehydration and just miserable, are very real risks. Quite clearly, you have to make the call to judge the environment you will be in. However, surely there's a compromise? The ability to vent the neck of any top and the resultant bellows effect really helps. Open neck, 'shortie' and dry trousers?


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Re: Hot air, cold water

Post by TheEcho » Sat Oct 21, 2017 12:12 pm

I have been to the Zion area. Although I haven’t paddled there I hiked the narrows and did some technical canyoneering. It was August when we went. Getting into a black wetsuit in the 40 degree celsius sun was quite an experience, as was then immediately leaping into water that had only recently melted.

I think you would cook in a drysuit at 30 degrees. Dress for the air. In a simple moving water river where you aren’t expected to go in (no spraydeck) if you do go in you should be able to get to the side and out of the water in a few seconds. Then get your towel and you will dry off quick in the heat.

Unless it has changed in the 10 years since I was there, Zion Adventure Company in Springdale hire out all the gear suitable for the season and post up the weather forecast and flash flood warnings every day. Best bet is to drop in there, ask their advice and hire anything you didn’t bring.

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Re: Hot air, cold water

Post by Jim » Sun Oct 22, 2017 3:01 pm

Almost got to Zion last year but with so much to see I never got quite that far north.

The temperature regime you describe sounds less extreme than I have experienced in the Grand Canyon, which I have run 4 times now. I never felt like I wanted a dry suit in the Canyon, most days I have paddled in short sleeve thermal and cag, a few days when it has been cool (steep walls can create cool shade in some sections, and we have sometimes encountered rain storms) I put on long sleeved thermals and a dry cag, but usually wear shorts underneath. I certainly never felt the need to capsize to cool down, in 3 trips in kayak I have spent a lot of time doing wavewheels and stuff which does involve a fair amount of rolling, and the trip I did in canoe I fell out of it a few times, but never to cool down just because I caught a wave wrong.

Dressing for immersion in rivers is quite different to dressing for immersion at sea, you need clothing that will help avoid the cold shock when you first go in, but as long as your group/leaders are reasonably competent you will be out of the water within a few minutes and able to warm up again and change into dry clothes if necessary.

Just take a selection of thermals and cags and dry bags. Don't forget it is October and the canyons will be starting to cool and getting more shady, be prepared in case the weather is a little cooler than forecast, you might want wetsuit strides or tracky bottoms as well just be sure.

If it is a multi day trip, make sure you take some warm dry stuff for camp too.

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