A chilling winter warning^

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Douglas Wilcox
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A chilling winter warning^

Postby Douglas Wilcox » Sun Dec 25, 2005 1:45 pm

Regular readers of this forum will know of my concern for falling into cold water. I personally use a dry suit in winter if it is rough or a two piece bib with dry feet and a cag with latex wrist seals and a sealable neck in more moderate conditions. Under the two piece I use polartec aquashell garements which are made of micro fleece bonded to a breathable waterproof membrane equivalent to but much more comfortable than 3mm neoprene. I have practised falling in during winter and both of the above work.

However, I got a very bad shock last Saturday. My brother Donald did a lot of kayaking in the late 60's early 70's but had stopped until September when I took him out in my Alaw at Arisaig in September. He has had several major life events recently and he enjoyed the escape of kayaking so much he gave up smoking! I hadn't seen him since then till last weekend but he phoned very keen to go out again. The Accuweather upper Clyde sailing forecast was for a 6 mph northerly dropping to 3mph. The BBC forecast was for sun and 7 mph northerly winds.

I decided to go to Largs and take him across to the Cumbrae. I thought if the weather changed he could always get the ferry back. I decided not to bring Jennifer or Mike along as I wanted to be able to concentrate on Donald. We arrived at Largs in a flat calm just as the sun was coming up. We met Billy an experienced kayaker who was down to test his new paddle. We decided to head across to the Cumbrae ferry terminal.

Image

I was very surprised how much weight Donald had put on since stopping smoking. I wished I had brought the Quest for him rather than the Alaw which had been a good fit in September. But we removed the hip shims, got the footplate right to the front and got him squeezed in and showed him how to release the nylon spraydeck.

FIRST MISTAKE

The Alaw was now too small for him. We should not have gone.

I had brought him a Yak salopette with velcro neoprene ankle seals and a Yak cag with velcro neoprene seals at wrists and neck. I had also brought my 3 mm neoprene shorty wetsuit and thermals for underneath but the wetsuit was far too small for him. He ended up with two Helly Hansen long johns, 1 Helly Hansen top with a micro fleece and a normal fleece under the Yak gear. I finished him off with Chota neoprene knee length boots, neoprene gloves and a neoprene cap. He complained he was too hot!

We were soon paddling over a glassy sea but a dark line on the horizon
Image
soon changed everything and we had a force 4 NW wind channelling straight down the Kyles of Bute meeting a spring flood tide.
Image
Donald was really enjoying himself but I asked him if he would like to turn back. He definitely didn't!

SECOND MISTAKE
I should have turned back straight away as the weather was now outwith his recent experience.

We were soon in the calm of the lee of Cumbrae and were enjoying a cup of hot soup. We were planning what to do next. I suggested heading south in the shelter of Cumbrae but the wind further out had now definitely dropped and Donald had caught a glimpse of the hills of Arran behind Cumbrae and fancied a quick look round the north of the island to get some photos.

Billy and I let him lead the way and told him we would turn back as soon as he felt uncomfortable. As we rounded the point, the wind was continuing to drop so we continued round.
Image

We headed out from shore a bit to get the best view over to Arran. Unfortunately we had not gone much further when another dark squall line appeared on the horizon.This time we all decided to turn for the shore at the same time. But it was soon on us blowing about 4 to 5 and the seas built up very quickly. Donald found the following sea much more difficult and I saw him do a couple of successful low braces. I wondered if I should raft up with him.

THIRD MISTAKE
As soon as I saw him brace I should have rafted.

As we approached the shore the waves steepened, he broached and fell in 190 metres from the shore.
Image

He was disorientated and had the cold water gasp reflex but I was right beside him and got him to hang onto my bow. I got his boat emptied in seconds While Billy calmed him down. We then got him in between his boat and mine facing towards his bow. He was getting very cold and he was moving very clumsily. I have practiced getting big people into boats before and found the best way is between the hulls, arms over both boats, feet into cockpit and limbo forward.

Donald got his legs into the cockpit but even with Billy and me on either side, he couldn't get his bum on the seat (a combination of being uncoordinated, weak and too small a cockpit). A breaking wave washed over us and he was in again, looking even colder. I could see he was now mentally slowing down, his speech and movements were becoming discoordinated. I looked at the shore it was just over 100m away. I shouted to Donald to grab the back of my boat (he had no strength left to get on the back deck of the boat) and shouted to Billy to keep an eye on him in case he couldn't hold on. I then paddled hard for the shore.

The GPS data shows that it was only 7 minutes from the fall in to the shore. He could hardly stand and the freezing north wind was blowing up the beach with no shelter and making him more hypothermic by the second (he had lost his neoprene cap.

Now at last, some of the planning began to go right.

I got him into my Vango emergency shelter. Billy and I got his wet clothes off and he put on the Buffallo pile and pertex jacket and trousers I always carry for such a situation. He then put the Yak suit and boots back on top together with a spare Lowe Alpine fleece and pertex cap. With three of us in the shelter and three flasks of hot soup down our necks we soon had a warm fug but it was over half an hour before he got warm again.

Once he was warm enough he walked round the point to a shelterd bay on the east of the island and I towed his boat round. In the sun and shelter we had lunch washed down with more hot soup (we had 6 flasks between the 3 of us).
Image
Donald (on the left) was soon back to form and even wanted to paddle back to Largs. We did have another spare change of clothing but he sensibly decided to take the ferry back and I towed his boat back to Largs.

What if we hadn't been near the shore? We would have to have used a scoop rescue (we had two hand pumps and a portable electric pump between us to empty the boat after this) but even with 2 experienced kayakers, we might have found it difficult to get him into the undersized cockpit. . One of us would then have needed to raft up with Donald while the other towed. (We have practiced this.)

What if we had not been able to self rescue? Well I had VHF, flares and EPIRB and Largs RNLI IRB station was only 2.6km away. But Billy and I (we are both doctors) were amazed at how quickly Donald developed symptoms of hypothermia and he has much more natural insulation than a thin person. He could have been seriously hypothermic by the time outside help arrived.

Billy who was not any better dressed than Donald has now ordered a dry suit. The water in the Clyde is currently 11 degrees C and deep water off the West coast never gets warmer than 13 degrees even at the end of summer. In Spring it could have been even worse. The temperature in the West coast Scottish sea lochs is then only 6.5 degrees C even althogh the sun and air temp might tempt you to paddle in shirt sleeves.

In conclusion, learn from my three main mistakes above. Although we had a satisfactory outcome, prevention is always better than cure. Anticipate problems rather than react to them. Know that cold water is a killer.

It has not put Donald off sea kayaking but next time he will be in a dry suit, in a Quest and in a nice sheltered loch!

All the best for a happy and safe season in 2006.

Douglas.

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Helen M
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Postby Helen M » Sun Dec 25, 2005 3:57 pm

Thanks very much for sharing that Douglas - it is amazing how complacent we get when conditions look good when we start off!

Glad Donald hasn't been put off for life!

Know the section of water you are talking about - thank god for ferries!

The year isn't over yet - so good paddling everyone for the rest of it!

Hope everyone had a great day .. I got a strobe light, a Craghopper down jacket, loads of thermals ... and a diamond ring ... amonst other things.

Happy Christmas everyone

H - x

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MikeB
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Postby MikeB » Sun Dec 25, 2005 5:32 pm

V pleased to hear Donald's ok and that there have been some positive outcomes here.

"Diamond ring" Helen???? Something we should know?

Mike.

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Helen M
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Postby Helen M » Sun Dec 25, 2005 8:10 pm

OK - signifies commitment - maybe one day we will take it a stage further!

You are just wanting a knees up!

Luv H - x

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CaptainSensible
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Postby CaptainSensible » Sun Dec 25, 2005 9:56 pm

I'm glad there was a happy ending; I was expecting something awful.

Re clothing...

Did Donald get extremely wet (complete failure of two-piece shell & neoprene seals = soaked thermals etc.) or was the hypothermia mostly a consequence of (mostly waterproofed) immersion in very cold water and several waves worth of cold water in the face?

I'm curious because I don't want to think that a drysuit will make you invulnerable in the event of a capsize into cold water. Do the thermal/waterproof properties of a drysuit buy you minutes or hours, and can anything prevent you from suffering a gasp reflex?

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Douglas Wilcox
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Postby Douglas Wilcox » Sun Dec 25, 2005 11:12 pm

Hello Captain, these are good questions. He got completly soaked I was surprised how wet he got so quickly despite the salopettes having neoprene ankle seals and he was wearing knee length Chota neoprene wet boots that were a good tight fit and also had straps at the top. When he fell in he had loosened the neck seal and I guess that's where it got in. He was not just damp his thermals were absolutely soaking and dripping wet.

I think the gasp reflex was due to the unacustomed shock of cold water round his face. I have been windsurfing for 26 winters and I do not to get it (though I have really bad surfer's nodules in my ears) because there is no quicker way to get very wet than wiping out at 25 knots plus.

I only got the gasp reflex once at the bottom of the lower fall of the grade 4 section of the Scaur Water. I was circulating round and round I thought I had forgotten to put my life jacket on because I wasn't coming up. Fortunately I rememberd to move sideways out the worst of the recirculation and came up clutching the boulder in the middle of the fall. I got the gasp reflex then allright. I couldn't stop and inhaled a lot of spray from the fall and choked badly. Not pleasant.

In moderate conditions I wear polartec aquashell under a 2 piece or non breathable dry suit for thermal protection. The membrane keeps my skin dry though the inside of the dry suit gets wet. In severe weather I wear Buffalo pile and pertex for thermal protection and again it wicks sweat away from the skin and the pertex keeps it outside. If I had a breathable dry suit (next on my shopping list) I would use my nice new Christmas prezzie merino wool thermals in mod conditions and again the Buffalo gear when it was really cold.

To keep my head warm in winter I have found that the very thin skull caps such as the Kogg Nogg or Chillcheater are not warm enough. I use a Sola neoprene windsurfing balaclava. If it gets too hot I pull it back and leave it on as a neck warmer and wear a Lowe Alpine pile and pertex cap with earflaps.

Last spring I could quite happily spend half an hour in the water in a Dam dry suit with Buffalo jacket and trousers underneath. I was wearing the same gear last February when I fell in over a kilometre off Doonfoot in the Clyde. I could not keep hold of the boat and Cailean Macleod needed to tow me in which took about half an hour. I wasn't cold at all and I quite enjoyed the experience of giving Cailean a good workout. :o)

Going back to the wind at Largs, the METAR readout from Glasgow airport showed hardly any wind all day. The islands and valleys in the hills round largs are notorious for channelling and funneling winds, I have been sailing these waters in dinghys, yachts and cruising cats since the sixties so I should not have been too surprised. In April 1967 while crewing for my Dad in a GP14 we capsized. We were wearing oilskins and itchy wool vests and long johns. I got so cold, I had to be taken by the rescue boat back to shore. I still have no recollection of that trip.

I'm glad there was a happy ending; I was expecting something awful.

When I looked down on him when he was in the water for the second time I felt almost completly oppressed by the weight of responsibility for what happened. I do not think either Donald or Billy really appreciated how little time separates a happy outcome from a tragedy.

Douglas

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Postby Owen » Mon Dec 26, 2005 11:35 am

This is something that worries me about people wearing dry suits in cold water; the suits themselves have no insulation at all. The insulation comes from what you have on underneath. Because you get hot in dry suits when doing exercise like paddling there’s a tendency to cut down on the layers that people have on beneath their suit; this gives a false sense of security. I’ve seen people wearing just Helly lifa top and bottoms under their suits; totally useless. If you go for a swim in this set up you may as well be naked.
When flying over the sea Army helicopter crews have to wear a thick one piece fibre pile teddy bear suit under their dry suits; this is the kind of insulation that you need. It’s no good thinking “I’ve just spent £1000 on this suit I’m immune to the cold; they just don’t work like that. I’m not having a go at Douglas, Buffalo gear would give a similar amount of insulation, but to many are fooling themselves. With the cold water in contact with the outside of your suit and the inside in contact with your skin your body heat will go straight through; and be lost forever.

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Postby CaileanMac » Mon Dec 26, 2005 6:38 pm

Wetsuits & Drysuits

Imagine stepping into a power shower with the water on ice cold setting with a wetsuit and cag on and then be asked to carry out a silly aerobics routine then repeat the same silly aerobics routine wearing a drysuit.

Wearing which outfit for your silly aerobics routine will allow you to focus and perform better?

Wetsuits don't provide much protection from the effects of cold water reflex in comparison a drysuit. Whole body immerison with ice cold water vs head/feet/hands only. Wetsuits do provide however much better protection from the effects of cold water reflex in comparison to bare skin or wearing just thermals. Owen I believe you are confusing two seperate issues;

1) Having the ability to deal with cold water reflex and function in an efficient and effective manner in the first few minutes spent in the water after a capsize/wet exit, therefore reducing the likehood of things going further aray.

2) Survival immersed in the ocean which and your survival time which is based mainly on the amount and quality of insulation you are wearing. No debate as to the fact that people need to be more inclined towards dressing for the swim as apposed to the paddle at this time of year, if they wish to see next Christmas.

A drysuit in the incident which Douglas described from what I have read, would have resulted in the incident not being as potentially serious as it was. Douglas full marks for your actions after the incident occurred. Drysuits do give people a sense of confidence which unless tempered by their limitations (like any piece of gear) is foolhardy. However drysuits do give people the ability to better respond and get themselves out of Neptune's grasp quickly (the longer the time you spend in the Dragon's Den, the greatly the likehood of great unpleasant experience). As sea kayakers we should forget ability dealing with the surviving in the sea but focus more of our time on developing our skills and judgement to keep out of the Dragon's Den in the first place. Judgement however only comes from a series controlled epics which actually is real experience :o)

Finally to all reading this thread; when did you last practice a rescue in real conditions i.e. not in a warm, sandy bay in July? Don't think it won't happen to you, as it does and can happen frightly quickly. If you practice - you will discover how you function in cold water, deal with the aftermath and from reflecting on your approach/leadership/technique might be able to carry out a rescue faster next time.

'The ocean often gives the test before the lesson. Are you ready for the test?' A quote from a friend Steve Maynard.

CaileanMac

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Postby Ed Lefley » Mon Dec 26, 2005 8:14 pm

as an inland kayaker and canoist i was interested to read this, partly because i tend to paddle in a dry suit during the winter in kayak and on moving water in an open, whilst on flat water i use pile pertex (montane or hopefully some mardale when it arrives!) again only in the open

i've been paddling this morning on a fun paddle that involved a large amount of swimming and generally being in the water, so i used my drysuit. Under that i had fleece trs and 2 fleece tops, the drysuit has dry boots but i don't trust them 100% so i used seal skinz inside as socks. i was in the water for the best part of 20mins by my reckoning and was warm... how that would workout in the sea i'm not so sure, but in the thames that was fine. Always had something on my head (Reed skull cap and Lowe Mountain Cap)

tThe other bit that got me thinking was the length of time that you can spend in the water before it all goes wrong. i've just read Oli Grau's ww kayak book, and in there he mentions that when water is below 8 degrees, the temperature in degrees is in a 1:1 proportion to the time in minutes that you have before hypothermia sets in. (this certainly applies to freshwater, not sure on seawater) ie if the water temp is 6 degrees, you have 6 minutes

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Postby Owen » Mon Dec 26, 2005 9:33 pm

Cailean,
I wasn't trying to compare wetsuits and drysuits. The point I was trying to make is that, it seems to me, too many people are wearing dry suits and thinking that there some kind of magic protection from cold water immersion. It's not just the outer layer that needs to be carefully thought about but what goes underneath it as well.
I wasn't really thinking about the sudden cold water shock, just what could happen if you end up in very cold water for longer that you would like.
Hope this clears up what I meant.

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Postby CaileanMac » Mon Dec 26, 2005 11:42 pm

Owen,

I used wetsuits as a comparison to better illstrate the two issues and to have something to compare and contrast against.

Neptune doesn't take prisoners at this time of year and minutes as Ed points out is proably all we have before we start suffering the effects of hypothermia in the salty waters around our coastline. A drysuit might just make it a few more minutes.

CaileanMac

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Cold...

Postby iannewman » Tue Dec 27, 2005 1:26 am

I have only suffered hypothermia (early stages) once and that was DW training in March in 1976 = an 18 mile K2 session in the dark with an air temp of -3oC. I stayed dry thoughout and suffered at mile 13 at the final (fourth) portage. I learned that I don`t need to be wet to get into trouble from being cold, i.e. disorientated and unable to paddle effectively. At least I avoided the shock reflex of an icy immersion, and I have to say that from the time of crew mates's awareness, to safety some five mile onwards, was one of the most unpleasant and uncomfortable experiences of my life. So well done to Douglas for being so prepared and aware...
Ian

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Postby Erling » Tue Dec 27, 2005 8:21 am

Douglas,
First, I am very happy that the incident resulted in a happy ending after all. As you point out, things could very easily have taken a different turn. (Twenty years ago I was in your situation, towing a capsized friend to land. This was in Northern Norway during winter, and if the distance to shore had been 50 meters longer I am not sure he would have made it. I had to break his fingers loose from the lines. It has had an impact on my paddling ever since.)

You give an excellent description of what happened, and I am sure everyone reading it can relate to the situation without having had similar experiences of their own. Your post could well have been a chapter from the Sea Kayaker's book "Deep Trouble" – only far better illustrated.

When I am out paddling these days, I do not go without wearing my new drysuit. I am more uncertain about how much to wear under it though. When I put on enough to keep me reasonably warm if capsized, I will get hot and sweaty when paddling. As I have to paddle alone this time of year, I choose this option anyway, as sea temp around here is now 2-3 °C, and today's air temp is –5 °C. I still feel I need to find a better balance though.
The older I get, the better I used to be.

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drysuits

Postby atakd » Wed Dec 28, 2005 11:25 am

A tip on adding insulation to drysuits - inflate them either by breathing out into the neck seal or through the inflation valve on a suit used for diving. I've used this method on long boat trips to dive sites and air is an excellent insulator. It does restrict mobility and air will leak out of cuffs but it can be topped up.
Andy

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Postby Dave Thomas » Wed Dec 28, 2005 12:47 pm

From observation (and to a lesser extent experience with dry cag and trousers) most paddlers work hard to expel excess air entrained in putting the garments on. I guess as well as maximising mobility, the logic is to avoid excess buoyancy around one's legs causing one to float feet up and head down. If the emphasis is on insulation rather than mobility, and bearing in mind the above point about the distribution of buoyancy, simply not going through the 'crouch and expel air through neck seal' routine will do much to increase insulation.

Dave Thomas

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atakd
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air in suit

Postby atakd » Thu Dec 29, 2005 10:59 am

Dave, I agree. I was not suggesting that drysuits should be full of air at all times but, if required to treat a thermal condition, they can be inflated to good effect.
Andy

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Re: drysuits

Postby capsized8 » Thu Dec 29, 2005 3:56 pm

atakd wrote:A tip on adding insulation to drysuits - inflate them either by breathing out into the neck seal or through the inflation valve on a suit used for diving. I've used this method on long boat trips to dive sites and air is an excellent insulator. It does restrict mobility and air will leak out of cuffs but it can be topped up.
Andy


I guess in a few weeks time when the stats show a number of paddlers drowned floating feet up the CG will be able to say "It was that top tip that got them"
Thermals and fibrepile is the only way to go on this one.

With a properly fitting BA you will not be able to inflate the suit.The only place the bulk of the air will go should your BA not fit is the legs. I would choose not to commit suicide by inversion. Mind you, it would greatly reduce the time worrying about rescue!!!
peace and good padlin.

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Postby atakd » Thu Dec 29, 2005 5:59 pm

Nothing like being open minded to new ideas, Pete. Do you say the same to people who wear boots with air in them? Have you any idea about the bouyancy ratio between air in drysuit legs v a PFD? Don't divers ever adopt a head down position? Do they get stuck there? In Douglas's story the casualty was on dry land and hypothermic. I know it may require people to make a decision themselves and perhaps you are afraid of this responsibility, and need to be spoon-fed specific actions. Hopefully your blinkers will keep you warm.
Chill out!
Andy

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Drysuits.

Postby wave skier » Thu Dec 29, 2005 9:30 pm

RNLI inshore lifeboat crews wear drysuits c/w boots with a huggy bear thermal all in one suit underneath plus seasocks,balaclava,gloves and helmet. They also have very serious lifejackets with lots of newtons plus light,flares and whistle.
I'm not suggesting an overkill but preparing for the worse and hoping for the best is not a bad idea during winter months. My only concern with a dry suit is its vulnerability to damage and water ingress and therefore the need for additional buoyancy.
I thoroughly enjoy the various topics and informative opinions together with Douglas's incredible photographs. I mention the RNLI stuff based on serving 27 years with an inshore lifeboat and the ability of the RNLI kit to keep me warm in and out of the water during the winter months.
Good communications are pretty important too,but I guess you guys know that.
Harry.

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Postby Owen » Thu Dec 29, 2005 9:50 pm

Would a dry suit full of air work at keeping you warm if you were bobbing about in freezing cold water?

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Re: Drysuits.

Postby runswick2000 » Thu Dec 29, 2005 10:15 pm

wave skier wrote:RNLI inshore lifeboat crews wear drysuits c/w boots with a huggy bear thermal all in one suit underneath plus seasocks,balaclava,gloves and helmet.


Just to add some wight to this contribution, I too have served on an Inshore Lifeboat crew for some time and recently came up against exactly this problem.

The shout in question was on a nice sunny day in July last year. We went out into the middle of Swanage bay to attend to a singlehanded sailor who was having difficulty righting his dinghy. Because the dinghy was in sight of our boathouse, no more than 1/2 a mile from the shore and because of the urgency of the situation with a man in the water. I decided not to wear my 'Woolly Bear' thermal suit under the drysuit. Instead I wore just shorts and a 'T'shirt. To cut a long story short, I entered the water when we arrived on scene in order to help suppport the casualty as we recovered him. Once he was on board I then tried to climb onto his dinghy in order to right it. Despite being an experienced sailor this proved very hard.......I was already becoming scarily weak despite having been in the water for only a few minutes. Without a doubt, the drysuit was better than my shorts and 'T'shirt alone, but was buying me very little extra 'time'.

On return to station we had a lengthy debate about this and decided to institute a local rule that woolly bears would be worn under drysuits, whatever the shout and whatever the weather. Without them (or other thermal insulation) drysuits simply don't provide that much protection from the cold seawater.

The casualty we recovered spent two days in Poole hospital recovering from serious hypothermia. And he was wearing?...........a drysuit with no thermal layer other than a set of Helly Hansen Lifas.
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Douglas Wilcox
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Postby Douglas Wilcox » Fri Dec 30, 2005 12:07 am

Hello Harry and Runswick,

thanks for the good work with the RNLI, I have been a Governor supporter for about 25 years. I hope other sea kayakers remember to support this charitable organisation.

I was out today in very cold conditions wearing my Buffalo super 6 jacket and trousers under my drysuit. Nice and warm. I was interested in your Huggy bear suits, are they commercially available?

Lastly, a contributary factor to Donald not being able to get back into his seat was that the Rockpool seat elastics had failed, allowing the seat back to fold forward under his bum. I will replace the seat back with one that has straps to bolt to the bulkhead like Valley or Dagger ones. (I have already put a Dagger one in my Quest for the same reason).

Douglas

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capsized8
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Responsible suggestions !!!!!

Postby capsized8 » Fri Dec 30, 2005 3:39 am

atakd wrote:Nothing like being open minded to new ideas, Pete. Do you say the same to people who wear boots with air in them? Have you any idea about the bouyancy ratio between air in drysuit legs v a PFD? Don't divers ever adopt a head down position? Do they get stuck there? In Douglas's story the casualty was on dry land and hypothermic. I know it may require people to make a decision themselves and perhaps you are afraid of this responsibility, and need to be spoon-fed specific actions. Hopefully your blinkers will keep you warm.
Chill out!
Andy


Its a case of volume -- the legs will win.

Just bear in mind we are not diving with a supply of air on our backs.
Perhaps being a diver you are able to put your head elsewhere and perform cyclic breathing.
I am also chilled out - at least I am not suggesting something that could be fatal.
peace and good padlin.

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Postby runswick2000 » Fri Dec 30, 2005 9:55 am

Douglas Wilcox wrote: I was interested in your Huggy bear suits, are they commercially available?


Douglas, the exact suit we use is made by Musto and is nothing fancier than a boiler suit type garment made from the sort of fleece that old fashioned pile jackets were made of. You can get something very similar from any diving equipment shop (however your buffalo gear will do exactly the same job I am sure).

Incidently, we tend not to keep our clothes on underneath as we feel the wooly bear and drysuit work best without other inferior layers getting in the way (allthough for modesty and hygiene we do keep underwear on)!

If you are interested in what we have been up to at Swanage Lifeboat have a look here

Happy paddling........
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Postby OwenBurson » Fri Dec 30, 2005 1:07 pm

Andy and Pete,
Your discussion is an interesting one, but the references to diving are next to irrelevant. The differences are too great, with the only thing in common being a similar dry suit.
Divers are trained to deal with an inversion by doing a tuck and roll procedure, just inflating your stab jacket will just result in a rather rapid departure towards the surface - generally considered to be a bad thing!

However, the point is that on the surface if you have air in the legs of a dry suit you are in no danger of inverting unless either you are not wearing a PFD of suitable size - or you have had a particularly bad curry and..... well nuff said!

To add to the other part of the discussion, while diving I wear nothing but Helly lifa's under my neoprene dry suit - if I wore anything less than a full furry suit under my membrane suit (closest to paddling dry suits) I would be in no fit state to do much for very long. Its all about suit insulation, a membrane suit on it own will protect against the initial cold shock, but the water on the outside will wick heat away almost as rapidy as not having one.

Owen

Cameron
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Postby Cameron » Fri Dec 30, 2005 5:02 pm

Hello all. I have been lurking here a while with a view to taking up sea kayaking next year. This has been a fascinating thread and has promted me to register.
Thermal protection would appear to be vitally important to ensure a long career in what appears to be a great sport. A quality dry suit will be top of my list of priorities along with some good wicking thermals to go with it.
I would like to throw in my views on the risk of inversion, which I believe to be very real and potentially life threatening. As an ex diver who used a membrane suit I was always very carefull not to carry too much lead so as to avoid overinflating my suit under water. Some diving suits have dump valves around the ankles to protect against inversion and some dry suit users used ankle weights as an additional measure. Once safely back on the surface I would squirt some air into the suit for additional bouyancy and warmth, once stable in an upright position the risk of inversion becomes very small.
However if one was to FALL IN with an overinflated suit the risk of inversion becomes very real.

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Mark R
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Postby Mark R » Tue Jan 24, 2006 10:31 pm

This references this thread...but it seems to be written in Double Dutch.
Mark Rainsley
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Jim
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Postby Jim » Tue Jan 24, 2006 11:27 pm

I'm not a linguist but I think that's just regular, or single dutch! :-)

Cameron - I was for a while a bit concerned about stories of inversion problems with dry suits, and the danger of the legs filling with air and trapping you in the boat if you capsize, but the fact is that you can't move around properly with a suit full of air so you will end up squeezing most of it out through the neck seal before you even get near the water, and since we have no inflation valves we are unlikely to get more air in afterwards. I think that particular tip about blowing into the neck seal was a bit of a red herring, it's just not practical, never mind if it's safe or not!

The amount of air that usually remains in a paddling drysuit is enough that with a good kick you can right yourself from an inversion - I go kitesurfing in mine so have tried swimming and stuff (without a buoyancy aid) and have never been trapped upside down.

JIM

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Hans Heupink
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Postby Hans Heupink » Tue Jan 24, 2006 11:52 pm

guidebook wrote:This references this thread...but it seems to be written in Double Dutch.


Hi Mark!

Sorry about the language! We are used to communicate (single) Dutch in the Netherlands...
I was impressed by the Douglas' openhearted story of Douglas. Glad it had a good end after all!
The post made me think about the way most Dutch seakayakers dress. There is hardly any Dutch seakayaker who uses a dry-suit. Even in winter most paddlers wear a Neoprene Long John in combination with a paddle top, fleece and nylon(rain) pants. In case of a wet exit it's rather minimal! Protection against hypothermea is critical. We should pay more attention to our dress code!
Hans Heupink
NKB Sea Kayak Instructor

weblog: www.kajakwoerden.blogspot.com

Goldspoon
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Postby Goldspoon » Wed Jan 25, 2006 5:56 pm

Under the two piece I use polartec aquashell garements which are made of micro fleece bonded to a breathable waterproof membrane equivalent to but much more comfortable than 3mm neoprene. I have practised falling in during winter and both of the above work.



Can you let me know where you get these Douglas?

(Julian info@playthesea.co.uk)


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