glad you made it to shore
Posted by: willowleaf on Oct-31-12 11:33 AM (EST)
Wow, you dodged a bullet with that capsize! Glad it turned into a lesson rather than a tragedy. At least you've got a good attitude about making up for the shortage in gear and training. (see this local news item down where I live for a similar event that did not end as well last weekend)
Where did you buy your boat? Having worked for a number of years in outdoor gear sales and education I always made sure that the folks I was selling to knew what accessories and safety equipment and instruction they needed before they left the store with their new toys. Even when I sell a used boat through Craigslist I have a talk with the purchaser about their planned use and advise them on precautions and additional items they need to have. It concerns me that the people you bought it from didn't bring up having a pump at the very least, not to mention a skirt and proper paddling clothes. And they should have recommended basic instruction since you were a novice.
For any future outdoors outing, even hiking, jeans and hoodies are the worst possible outfit, as you have discovered. The heavy cotton not only soaks up water like a sponge, it will evaporate faster than any other material, causing hypothermia. In cool wet and windy conditions it has actually been demonstrated that you will get colder much faster wearing soaked cotton clothing than being buck naked. Polyester fleece or wool is a better choice, and polyester and/or nylon athletic clothes are preferable to anything cotton. Do some googling on the topic of "cold water immersion" and you will learn that even the most pleasant looking ponds in Michigan can be deadly at this time of year if you are not dressed right -- just like Lake Arthur was to the hapless raccoon hunter in the news item.
I lived and kayaked in Michigan for 8 years (mainly the west and north). There are great paddling options there and plenty of resources in the state as well as good outfitters (for which Celia has already done the legwork for you in her previous post). Though I usually prefer the smaller independent oufitters, there is also an REI store not far from you in Troy (10-15 miles?) -- check with them on their kayaking class schedules. The one in my town has winter pool sessions. That would be another good place to go for your needed accessories and clothing.
You might want to check activity bulletin boards, like Meetup.com, to see if there is an active kayaking group in your area. Paddling with some experienced people would be safer on water like St. Clair than being alone.