Cold weather sea paddling and camping^

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Mark R
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Cold weather sea paddling and camping^

Post by Mark R » Tue Feb 07, 2006 7:16 pm

Any tips?

Back in the days when there was water in our rivers, I never used to touch a sea kayak between October and May.
Mark Rainsley
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Robert Craig
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Post by Robert Craig » Tue Feb 07, 2006 8:22 pm

Problem is the dark - even I can't sleep for 16 hours. Best solution I've found is to camp within walking distance of a pub.

Even with my wee kayak (a Vela), I can get in winter camping gear, including a winter sleeping bag, so staying warm at night isn't a problem. Bad weather and cold water scare me, so I'm not ambitious in where I go. But there's plenty of places to go to ...

A comment from the dark side is that the fishing season starts soon - so at least the Awe should start running.

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Erling
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Post by Erling » Tue Feb 07, 2006 8:26 pm

Make sure you bring a really good mattress, like the thickest Therm-A-Rest or similar. Even the best sleeping bag is no good if you're not properly insulated against the cold, cold ground.
The older I get, the better I used to be.

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Douglas Wilcox
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Post by Douglas Wilcox » Tue Feb 07, 2006 8:34 pm

I wear Buffalo gear under a dry suit and have a spare for set round camp and if its real cold I wear it inside the sleeping bag as well.

I also take a kelly kettle with a folding bowl, cloth and stool to get a decent wash inside the tent (light the kettle outside).

Douglas :o)

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MikeB
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Post by MikeB » Tue Feb 07, 2006 9:15 pm

Decent head torch. Reading material. As mentioned, I'm also a fan of pubs, and also Thermarests and decent sleeping bags. Have dry kit stay dry by only wearing it ashore/in camp - that'll mean putting damp paddling kit on the next day to go paddling, but at least you'll have lovely dry kit in the evening.

If you can't get to a pub, then a bothy is good. And a wash and a decent hot meal works wonders wherever you are.

Being able to get out of paddling gear is good - so a set of ordinary waterproofs, boots etc is great when ashore.

Enjoy - Mike.

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Jim
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Post by Jim » Tue Feb 07, 2006 9:23 pm

Although we have been mainly lucky with our Easter trips some of them might count as winter, and seasonal definitions aside April can be a good month for snow in Scotland. However I think February will generally prove colder than I am used to!

Remember that your fuel will burn less efficiently at low temperatures, so take plenty. Also don't be afraid to reponsibly light a campfire to keep the chill off.

Drinking alone is naff and alchohol will not guard against hypothermia but encourage it so don't bother taking any (thats 15 litres more capacity in my boat if I pay attention to myself at Easter!).

It might seem like faff but a hot breakfast can really set you up - if you pre-mix porridge with dried milk and sugar( if that's how you like it), you can get a quick hot breakfast - ready brek is much the same and even faster to prepare! Bacon and eggs and stuff is obviously good but I find it a bit fussy and messy (top tip - buy your sausage in scotland and choose the squares, they are skinless and don't disintegrate like bangers if you get the heat wrong).

Plenty of warm dry clothing - I always have spare paddling stuff even if I am in my drysuit, and always change into dry gear in camp (avoids cooking accidents damaging your drysuit!). Don't forget wind/waterproofs for off the water. Assume you will not get chance to dry anything.

Nothing is less natural than sleeping in a mummy bag with the hood completely closed off - I try and get my nose sticking out of or in line with the hole to stop my breathe making the inside damp. If you can't bear pulling the hood tight around your face at least wear a hat or balaclava because you will lose loads of heat through the head.

Since you are solo you can dispense with "group" kit like a towline, a group shelter may still be useful for a quick warm up if you crawl ashore too cold to pitch your tent straight away.

I find my bivvy bag much warmer than a tent, however motivation for crawling out of it in the wet is difficult to find. It also doesn't hold any gear so a tarp or even a small tent may be useful to pitch right outside (preferably overlapping) for storing stuff and cooking. Almost everyone but me will prefer a decent sized tent and a warmer sleeping bag.

Finally, if the sun comes out and you can get out of the wind, you will actually find that it can be relatively warm (but hope the cloud returns for the night). You may be well used to night paddling, but remember that the temperature will drop off much more quickly once it gets dark in winter.

If you don't own a pair of Buffalo mitts, seek them out and get a pair - NOTHING will rewarm your hands as quick as a pair of these (well fire....).

Any help?

JIM

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CCL
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Post by CCL » Tue Feb 07, 2006 11:16 pm

Hi Mark - I paddled round Bute and Arran during February half term last year and was lucky enough to experience a couple of days of no wind and blue sky/sunshine. Shortie cag was perfect until the sun dropped behind the hills. we also had a few days of awful weather - rough sea, F5, sleet combined with the crossing from Arran back to Bute all made for a situation that could have been a bit marginal.

Top tips:
1. Big down sleeping bag was great but I was cold from the ground up. I have since resolved this with one of these -
http://w01-0504.web.dircon.net/acatalog ... _mats.html
2. Nights are long - and I forgot to pack my book. There is a limit to how long even I can trawl over the OS maps for to fill in time.
3. Echo the comments re finding a pub - fantastic boost to the day but if it's raining I was more keen to stay dry than walk 20mins to the pub.
4. having hot food available (soup or something) in the middle of the day made a big difference.
5. We had a fantastic fire going (priority no 3 on landng for the evening) to get warm, dry kit etc each night. what a difference it made even after a horrendous day on the water and mild hypothermia setting in.

That down filled airbed has probably made the biggest difference!
Claire

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Post by CaileanMac » Tue Feb 07, 2006 11:32 pm

Mark,

Some hopefully top tips;

1) Pair of wellies to wear whilst ashore - having dry & warm feet makes life bearable + thick woolly socks!

2) Before turning in for dreams of white caps and favourable winds & tides, fill a naglene bottle with water which isn't quite boiling - makes a for a lovely hot water bottle.

3) Ipod or MP3 player with good tunes to aid the long hours in your tent by.

4) CCL's suggestion for hot soup or something solid in the middle of day or just after you get off water is also to be highly recommended.

5) Finally the biggest down sleeping bag you can find!

CaileanMac

Owen
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Post by Owen » Wed Feb 08, 2006 9:57 am

Hi Mark,
I use a small gaz lamp it throws out loads of heat as well as lighting up your tent. Small one man tents that you can't sit up in are a pain when the night is so long. Its worth taking a bigger one if you have one and don't forget a pee bottle.

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Mark R
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Post by Mark R » Wed Feb 08, 2006 6:23 pm

CaileanMac wrote:1) Pair of wellies to wear whilst ashore - having dry & warm feet makes life bearable + thick woolly socks!
Good idea...duly purchased.
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meatballs
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Post by meatballs » Thu Feb 09, 2006 10:42 am

Jim wrote: Nothing is less natural than sleeping in a mummy bag with the hood completely closed off - I try and get my nose sticking out of or in line with the hole to stop my breathe making the inside damp.
Breathing in the bag will make it colder, so should always have your nose and mouth poking out!

My hands were so cold today I didn't know if I was holding my paddle or not without looking. After a short paddle in some north sea swell (3 deg 18mph winds) I came in, and felt really very sick despite the rest of my body being pretty warm. Pogies definitly on my wishlist, I need some for the alps anyway, I get really bad prickly heat on the back of my hands!
Ben

John C
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Gas stoves

Post by John C » Fri Feb 10, 2006 4:43 pm

Gas stoves don't like the cold. Often, if it's dropped below 3-4 C overnight they'll only give a small amount of heat resulting in a long wait for your first brew. Do a big flask of hot water before turning in. In the morning use most of the water for your brew and pour the rest into a pan lid. Sitting the gas can in this little bit of water raises the gas temperature back to a point where you get the full flame. This is also useful to get the last bit of fuel out.

Having a smaller tent with a porch you're happy to use your stove in means you can get breakfast and a couple of brews in before you even get out of your bag whilst warming the inside of the tent.

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MikeB
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Post by MikeB » Fri Feb 10, 2006 4:56 pm

Good tip. Of course, a petrol stove (or a Trangia running meths) won't suffer such problems ;-)

Mike.

andreadawn
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Post by andreadawn » Fri Feb 10, 2006 9:02 pm

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Last edited by andreadawn on Mon Jun 08, 2009 8:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Mark R
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Post by Mark R » Sun Feb 19, 2006 10:18 pm

Thanks! All of the above advice proved to be good - a few observations that I've learned over the past week...


- Paddling decked out with safety gear, dry suit and several layers of fleece is significantly harder work than usual. My shoulders screamed for the first couple of days.

- Likewise, the culmulative effects of cold, wet and wind take their toll. In my summer trips, I take 25 miles and/ or six hours of paddling as an easily achievable daily minimum on good weather days. Last week I felt really tired and run down after 4 hours and half that distance.

- Despite wearing fleecy neoprene socks and hiking socks inside dry suit socks and wellies, I lost sensation in much of my feet for the duration of each day.

- Pogies are indispensible, but I find they have to be removed whenever tricky padling ensues. Although they never felt really cold, my hands have lots of little nicks and cuts where I've worn through the skin without noticing, due to lack of feeling/ circulation.

- Finishing a paddling day, I always unpacked the boat, got the tent up and started some hot food cooking before getting out of my kit. This might take a long while, but meant that I could then change into fully dry gear in a dry warm environment.

- The most dangerous and unpleasant part of every day was just after getting the mildly damp gear on. On the two 'gale' days, I found that after changing and whilst dropping the tent/ packing the last of the gear, I quickly got worryingly cold and apathetic, and found it tough to complete simple tasks. As soon as I was in the boat and moving, I was fine.

- Flasks are wonderful! Might sound stupid, but I often drink nothing all day whilst boating. I've always regarded making a flask up beforehand as vaguely effete(!) but a daily flask of hot Ribena helped keep me focused out on the water all week.

- All my usual self-preservation mental fallbacks...rolling, re-entry and roll, paddle float, etc...struck me as unlikely to be reliable in the conditions I witnessed last week. I simply wasn't familar with the climate and conditions (surfing alone in a freezing gale, anyone?) and would have to practice and train properly in cold water and crap weather before I could regain my usual self-confidence that I have the skill to look after myself.

- It CAN rain all day.
Mark Rainsley
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CaileanMac
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Post by CaileanMac » Sun Feb 19, 2006 10:26 pm

Mark,

You have hit the nail on the head for paddling with a degree of safety at this time of year:
to practice and train properly in cold water and crap weather before I could regain my usual self-confidence that I have the skill to look after myself.
A wee saying that I have 'Mental confidence follows from physical practice'

CaileanMac

Rich Best

Down Sleeping bags

Post by Rich Best » Wed Feb 22, 2006 11:55 pm

Hello All.

I just wondered what sleeping bags folk are using. A lot of people I know warned me not to use a down bag because when they get wet they're useless, whereas a synthetic bag will still be useable. I ignored the advice and use a down bag: it packs very small and is fantastically warm, though of course I have to be really careful not to get it wet. What are you guys using?

Following on from that, what about down bags and bivvi bags? I have a goretex bivvi but have found that when it goes below freezing I get condensation inside the bivvi which makes the surface of the sleeping bag damp/wet. I do tend to close the cords and hibernate (I don't suffer from claustrophobia) which I'm sure doesn't help. The sleeping bag (Mountain equipment lightline ultra) is supposed to tolerate some surface wetness and it doesn't seem to have been damaged, but I'm a bit reluctant to use it in a bivvi now. If I need to I put on my Chillcheater transpire fleece stuff. Any thoughts on this?

And I agree with Andrea. You can't beat those tipis for the luxury of warming up and drying your kit in front of the fire (or kelly kettle).

Cheers,

Richard

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Erling
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Post by Erling » Thu Feb 23, 2006 7:16 am

Richard;
Down bags get thumbs down from me I'm afraid, particularly for kayaking/canoeing. These days you get compact synthetic bags that pack as small as down bags and still offer almost the same comfort. I used to love my down zipperless mother-of-all-sleepingbags designed for the arctic which I used mostly for tenting and iglooing (is that a word?) in the Norwegian winter mountains. But eventually I got tired of having to air it at every possible opportunity, to get the moisture out.

Like you say, they are useless when wet. Down sleeping bag in dry (top) and wet (bottom) condition:

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active4seasons
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Post by active4seasons » Thu Feb 23, 2006 7:33 am

Sleeping bag wise I have tried a number of options and having spent two months in one in Chile (Operation Raliegh) anywhere near water my advice is always synthetic. I use a layering system of a softy 3 with no zip inside a softy 6. If it is realy cold I use a gortex bivibag and have a choice of a cotton or silk liner (Silk is more comfortable whenyou know there is going to be some moisture about).
Having spent one night in my trax gear soacking wet inside a synthetic bag freezing my n**ts off I would;t imagine my down bag would have survived. When the sun came out the next afternoon I was able to dry the synthetic bag quickly and had a comfee nights sleep the next night.
The advantage of layering is that you have plenty of options depending on conditions and also you can pack it all seepperately to guarantee some dry kit.
Keep your Down bag for very dry cold conditions i.e. in the snow when you head to Greenland or North canada.
Ollie
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