Kayaking in really cold water
Posted by: Toller on Dec-08-12 3:02 PM (EST) Category: Kayaks
I just bought a house on a lake in upstate NY. I have been going out for an hour about 4 times a week. Neighbors tell me the lake rarely freezes because the waves keep it open, so I hope to continue all year long.
I have a Necky Zoar Sport (http://www.atlantickayaktours.com/pdf/Retail/Kayak/Necky/Zoar-Sport-Low.pdf) that I think is pretty much impossible to capsize. I took it out in Sandy with 2.5' waves and it seemed perfectly stable, though a bit difficult to control. So if I take it out when the water is reasonably calm, I don't see much danger.
I have a wetsuit (and wore during Sandy, as I expected to go swimming) but it is awfully uncomfortable and I really really prefer not to wear it. They are designed to be worn wet, and just don't do well dry.
I did go over in a canoe once in icy water and didn't care for it; but I think the chances of capsizing the ZS in calm water are about the same as being hit by lightning.
So... am I being an idiot for not wearing a wetsuit, or is it a reasonable thing to do.
(Actually the toughest thing about Sandy was just getting into the water. The wind would kept pushing the bow into the beach before I could even get into the kayak.)
Bent Shaft Canoe Paddles
|Table of Contents|
|Messages in this Topic|
Go for a swim - then report back|
Posted by: willi_h2o on Dec-08-12 4:08 PM (EST)
Atlantic Kayak Tours website|
Posted by: RavenWing on Dec-08-12 4:13 PM (EST)
Hypothermia is deceptive|
Posted by: trvlrerik on Dec-08-12 4:34 PM (EST)
I do not personally know anybody that has died from drowning or hypothermia, but just like a PFD, a wet suit is good insurance to lower the odds of death.
You Don't Need It...|
Posted by: sing on Dec-08-12 4:50 PM (EST)
until you need it (which is usually the worse time to find out that you needed it).
A couple of years ago...|
Posted by: ByronWalter on Dec-08-12 5:16 PM (EST)
...three guys were out at the local reservoir in a typical fishing boat during February. It was a windy day and they were reported to be about 100 feet off shore.
Well said, Sing. I went over my first |
Posted by: shirlann on Dec-08-12 5:23 PM (EST)
winter, in 4' of water, near shore, December with 50 degree air temp (water was much colder), and though I didn't have a wetsuit on, I was fortunate enough to have dressed in all wicking fabrics (3 layers). Had I been in deeper water, I most likely would have been in DEEP trouble.(I purchased much better attire after this day.)
Inuit who still use kayaks|
Posted by: kayamedic on Dec-08-12 5:53 PM (EST)
traditionally do not use PFD's and do not use wetsuits or dry suits. They use sealskins. However they know a few dozen rolls that are truly bombproof to get themselves out of the water fast.
One thing you left out|
Posted by: Wayne_Smith on Dec-09-12 9:04 AM (EST)
Historically, inuit villages lost as many as 1/3 of their hunters to capsizes where rolling or rescue where the paddler did not exit the cockpit couldn't save them, and that included Greenland.
Second the swim, plus...|
Posted by: Celia on Dec-08-12 6:13 PM (EST)
If you do actually capsize, unless you have a very reliable roll (which I suspect not), you will have to re-enter the boat from the water. Try this out near shore wearing what you prefer.
Necky Zoar Sport|
Posted by: pblanc on Dec-08-12 6:35 PM (EST)
I'd be willing to bet good money that somebody, somewhere has capsized that boat.
Saftety and Comfort|
Posted by: guideboatguy on Dec-08-12 6:37 PM (EST)
Deep lake here|
Posted by: kayamedic on Dec-08-12 6:46 PM (EST)
Sebago--lately will not freeze in the middle. Its over 400 feet deep in one spot.
Posted by: bowler1 on Dec-08-12 6:55 PM (EST)
Upstate NY right....get a dry suit. I would not use a wet suit in sub freezing conditions personally. I also would learn to roll if you can't, or paddle close to shore and bring along a cag or somethign to warm you in the event you do go for a swim.
Dry suit is not realistic|
Posted by: FrankNC on Dec-08-12 7:50 PM (EST)
I really doubt someone with a $700 - $900 kayak is going to buy a $1200 dry suit. I think it is better to advise that he get a very stretch thin surfer style wet suit and splash gear and carry two sets of dry clothes and emergency fire kit and shore sneak the rivers and shallow places.
Google Cold Water Boot camp|
Posted by: QCHiker on Dec-08-12 7:54 PM (EST)
I suggest you watch some of the videos on the site Cold Water Boot Camp and learn about how long you will last without the proper gear like a dry suit and a PFD.
Posted by: Kudzu on Dec-09-12 5:48 AM (EST)
Get a $300 dry suit like I did.
I've done rolls ina Zoar Sport|
Posted by: Peter-CA on Dec-08-12 10:55 PM (EST)
I've done roll practice in a Zoar Sport. Not that hard to capsize in it.
'Impossible to Capsize' -- Red Flag|
Posted by: LittleRed on Dec-08-12 11:14 PM (EST)
Other posters have pretty much covered the need to dress for possible immersion, so I won't repeat that. But I will second the suggestion to watch Cold Water Boot Camp. I also must say that anytime I hear someone say or see them write that their boat is pretty much impossible to capsize, it raises a red flag and, frankly, makes me question a person's risk assessment skills. Never assume a boat is "impossible" to capsize when your life could depend on it -- as it could in cold water. The Titanic was considered unsinkable, too.
I appreciate the help|
Posted by: Toller on Dec-08-12 11:51 PM (EST)
My intention is to stay within 100' of shore. The water is no more than 5' deep there, and I can run home from wherever in 10 minutes. (however I know from my one icy capsize that it would be an extremely long 10 minutes)
100 feet might be too far|
Posted by: pblanc on Dec-09-12 7:11 AM (EST)
Even if you can stand in the water it might take you too long to get out of it.
Take a cold shower|
Posted by: Jaybabina on Dec-09-12 7:59 AM (EST)
Seriously. let the water run cold for a minute and then get under it.
Too far from shore|
Posted by: Celia on Dec-09-12 9:11 AM (EST)
I've been hypothermic more than once, and curiously always in temps much warmer than upstate winters. I suspect it is because once things start freezing I don't make the mistake of underestimating the situation.
Be Very Careful...|
Posted by: VK1NF on Dec-09-12 9:41 AM (EST)
There is an audience here.|
Posted by: Cliffjrs on Dec-09-12 8:17 AM (EST)
Several folks like to post news of paddliing fatalities so others can read and discuss them. It's even better if they have a personal connection. Go for it, if that's your thing !
Posted by: bowler1 on Dec-09-12 8:34 AM (EST)
There is one on the classified ads for like $400 or so. Can also get them on ebay. Does not need to be a top of the line model.
All I can do here|
Posted by: rjd9999 on Dec-09-12 11:18 AM (EST)
is reinforce what others have already said.
You're bucking for...|
Posted by: Bnystrom on Dec-09-12 6:58 PM (EST)
...a Darwin award. Get proper immersion gear and wear it. While you're at it, learn some bracing and rescue skills. If you can't do that, stay off the water!
I hope Toller comes back and posts|
Posted by: kayamedic on Dec-09-12 7:31 PM (EST)
his game plan after he has thought it out. Otherwise this conversation, while well meaning, is one sided.
At this time |
Posted by: Toller on Dec-10-12 11:10 AM (EST)
I don't even know if I CAN paddle this winter. If the shore freezes, I won't even be able to get to the water, so the whole thing is academic. Launching from the ice seems a bit dicey. I will have to see how it goes.
Depth isn't that big a factor|
Posted by: rjd9999 on Dec-10-12 12:05 PM (EST)
It's the temperature. While it is unikely that you'll be capsized irrecoverably in 4" of water, you'll still be wet. If you get back into the boat and have a wet or drysuit on, you'll probably be fine, unless:
you will find|
Posted by: daggermat on Dec-10-12 12:15 PM (EST)
Depth seems to be allowing open water|
Posted by: kayamedic on Dec-10-12 12:22 PM (EST)
Four feet deep ought to have ice on it. Is your lake one of the Finger Lakes where temps are indeed milder as its ?
Honestly - swim it|
Posted by: willi_h2o on Dec-10-12 12:11 PM (EST)
Posted by: pblanc on Dec-10-12 12:18 PM (EST)
I am pretty confident that I could get back on shore from 46 degree water if I had to wet exit a kayak 80' off shore, but I would be pretty miserable.
Same as before...|
Posted by: Celia on Dec-10-12 12:43 PM (EST)
walk/swim 80 along the shore - but no 80 feet out - with a change of clothing, a car with a good heater and preferably a friend nearby.
Every winter we lose a few|
Posted by: nickjc on Dec-10-12 12:24 PM (EST)
Here in Washington the water temp drops to 38-40. Every winter a few people die on the big lake next to seattle. Universally they are in a 'stable' boat and not dressed for immersion. Many die on relatively calm day. Every Jan 1 a friend of mine does a dress for immersion 'polar plunge'. He invites people to float for 20 mins in the lake in their chosen kayaking gear. I imagine there is small spike in sales of drysuits and pile after these sessions.
Sidenote to all|
Posted by: willi_h2o on Dec-10-12 2:27 PM (EST)
get in the water|
Posted by: slushpaddler on Dec-10-12 2:31 PM (EST)
no one can answer|
Posted by: RavenWing on Dec-10-12 6:12 PM (EST)
Posted by: jimyaker on Dec-10-12 7:15 PM (EST)
I've seen two paddlers in the initial stages of hypothermia in August in TN on 80+ degree days. The Hiwassee has water temps in the 50s and the weather was overcast with a stiff wind. Both were uncontrollably shivering and probably less than 5 minutes from being in real trouble if they had stayed in the water. One had taken a 3-5 minute swim and the other had a loose wetsuit for a self rescue class where you were in the water intermittently.
Just lost one to 56 degree water|
Posted by: FrankNC on Dec-10-12 8:28 PM (EST)
Here in Jordan lake the water temp is already down to 56. A man lost his life swimming out to a boat that had drifted from shore. I wear a wetsuit starting at 70 degree water and the water here gets into the 40's.
Posted by: rjd9999 on Dec-10-12 10:00 PM (EST)
Too bad about the recent death while trying to catch a floating boat. Note that it is rare than you will be able to catch up to a wind blown object since the max speed of good swimmers is well under 5 mph.
Again, I appreciate all your advice, but|
Posted by: Toller on Dec-10-12 11:48 PM (EST)
"Go and try it for yourself with whatever you plan paddling in. Don't go too far from shore: 20 feet at most. Capsize and fully immerse, head and all. See how prone you are to gasp reflex. Stay in the water at least 10 minutes. See how that affects your mobility and awareness. Try to get back in your boat. Do have a witness/friend with the ability to warm you up."
Gasp Reflex ...|
Posted by: seadart on Dec-11-12 12:37 AM (EST)
"I have been submerged in water with ice on it (when the air temperature was 20) and while I don't like it, there was no gasp reflex (I suppose I should check to see what that is"
I'm out..........next, please on P.Net|
Posted by: willi_h2o on Dec-11-12 12:40 AM (EST)
Posted by: RavenWing on Dec-11-12 2:11 AM (EST)
between your ears.
You aren't getting what is being said|
Posted by: Celia on Dec-11-12 7:49 AM (EST)
so if it's so easy....|
Posted by: slushpaddler on Dec-11-12 10:00 AM (EST)
...then do yourself a favor and prove it to yourself in cold water.
you may not get gasp reflex, but...|
Posted by: jcbikeski on Dec-11-12 11:12 AM (EST)
as others have said the simple thing is just do a test. You know your area best and how far you may be. Maybe have a tow rope or such on you with the other end with someone on the dock. Jump out and swim/walk to shore and just see how it goes. Everyone is different and you may do well (rare but I've heard of cases) but only with a good test from a realistic distance can you know for sure. Enjoy a blanket and hot chocolate on shore and appreciate how much better you understand your situation and how to cope with it. Knowing for sure is a great feeling.
I used to live in the north country|
Posted by: roanguy on Dec-11-12 10:37 AM (EST)
prior to moving south, and after reading your plans I would do exactly what you plan to do especially if you can walk home.
Toller or "troller?"|
Posted by: spiritboat on Dec-11-12 12:12 PM (EST)
Cold Water Immersion|
Posted by: H2OAddict on Dec-12-12 1:30 PM (EST)
If you haven't seen the Cold Water Boot Camp video, take a look at the bottom of this article - http://www.nrsweb.com/services/newsletter/2011/rtneditor_0611c.asp
Posted by: jimyaker on Dec-12-12 3:03 PM (EST)
You also need to realize that there are cases where small things get you in big trouble in a hurry. Maybe you bang up an ankle or something and instead of hustling out, you are doing a on-legged poling swim thing.
Posted by: ppine on Dec-12-12 6:21 PM (EST)
Paddle in December, dress for immersion. There is always a chance of capsizing. The scenario you describe, frequent paddling in winter with over confidence is exactly how people get dead.
Cold Water Cold Temps|
Posted by: old_user on Dec-12-12 10:55 PM (EST)
Fortunately, I have never dumped in cold water, but I have experienced hypothermia. On a cold winters day, in Washington State, I went fishing along the shore of a local river. It was 35 degrees and snowing lightly. After an hour and a half of fruitless fishing, I discovered that I could no longer work my reel and headed back to my car. I was wearing neoprene gloves. When at my car, I discovered that I could not remove my gloves, my hands being swollen and freezing. I got them off using my teeth, but it took a long time. Next, I discovered that I could not put my hand into my jeans pocket, so swollen were they, to get to my car key and being alone and in a remote spot had no one to help me. Finally, after a miserable hour of walking around, another car parked nearby and I then had to convince a skeptical fisherman to please put his hand into my pocket and get my key. That was a lesson in cold that I will never forget. It took sitting in my car for about 45 minutes before I could get my hands to work and I could drive home.
No solution to your cold hands?|
Posted by: guideboatguy on Dec-12-12 11:28 PM (EST)
Your situation sounds like nothing I've ever heard of before, on account of your hands swelling up. It makes me wonder what else might have been physically wrong with you. Still, obviously your hands were extremely cold but it seems you spent that whole hour "walking around" but not making use of the warmth you carried within your clothes. Did you try to make your hands warm by putting them inside your clothing? Stick your hands inside your shirt - up under it from below if you can't work the buttons. Stuffing your hands down your pants is great too - it "sounds wrong" when I describe it - but it works wonders (it probably can't be done if you have a big belly though - in that case maybe put your hands right on your belly). Even if you are severely hypothermic, your body is still warm enough under your clothing to use as a heat source to get your hands working again (your hands can function quite well at a temperature that would kill you if the rest of your body were that cold, so yes, your body IS much warmer than your numb, functionless hands). You don't mention doing any such thing, and I have often heard of people with numb, nonworking hands making no effort whatsoever to warm them, so I figured it's worth mentioning.
Posted by: kayamedic on Dec-12-12 11:39 PM (EST)
sometimes extreme swelling happens. Sufferers usually have continuing difficulty with cold exposure.
In this case...|
Posted by: abc on Dec-13-12 3:48 PM (EST)
Half of those replied didn't read the original post!
partly the point I made|
Posted by: jcbikeski on Dec-13-12 4:07 PM (EST)
just try it but like any risky experiment have a safety net such as a rope to someone on the dock that can pull you in.
You can forget that depth remark|
Posted by: guideboatguy on Dec-13-12 4:49 PM (EST)
Water depth in CNY|
Posted by: radskierman on Dec-13-12 5:55 PM (EST)
Actually, Oneida lake, where I kayak extensively and used to scuba dive extensively easily fits the OP's description. Smack dab in the middle of NY state. There are MANY miles of shoreline where you can walk out well over 200 YARDS and not exceed 4' in depth. The lake is notorious for getting very rough very fast on the east end with a west wind blowing because of the bottom topography. It is approximately 23 miles long x 5 miles wide yet only has a max depth of 50' (and that is in one hole on the whole lake) and an average depth of 6'.
Yeah, I found a map of that lake|
Posted by: guideboatguy on Dec-13-12 8:21 PM (EST)
Guessing you haven't been hypothermic...|
Posted by: Celia on Dec-13-12 5:22 PM (EST)
As I found out, the time to be unable to help myself can be under 5 minutes. That was in temperatures much warmer than winter in upstate NY. I am not the only one who indicated that kind of actual experience. Your personal experience when you were younger is not necessarily going to apply for this individual, nor does it change what others have experienced.
Posted by: abc on Dec-13-12 7:32 PM (EST)
And that is what everyone has said|
Posted by: Celia on Dec-13-12 8:38 PM (EST)
The posit that the person should test out his tolerance was said above again and again. I am not sure what is gained by your saying it with an attitude that other who said it were off base because they had a basis in personal experience.
Posted by: abc on Dec-13-12 10:06 PM (EST)
"As to the re-entry, you suggested it as a first option. The OPer has only spoken of swimming."
250 feet deep|
Posted by: dc9mm on Dec-14-12 11:58 AM (EST)
Humm the lake at its deepest is 250 feet according to OP. That's a deep lake. I did read the post above about a lake in middle of NY that is shallow along shore but this lake the OP talks about doesn't sound anything like that kind of shallow lake. Not sure how anyone would know its only 4 feet deep along the entire paddle a person would be doing in a lake that is that deep in the middle. I sure would like to know what lake the OP refers too. He is basing his ability to get out of the water on the water ONLY being 4 feet deep. But "WHAT IF" its actually 6 feet deep if and were he goes over? Then what? I wouldnt rely upon it always being shallow. I would at least find a comfy wet suit.
what I wonder|
Posted by: slushpaddler on Dec-14-12 12:02 PM (EST)
That's a good point too|
Posted by: guideboatguy on Dec-14-12 12:18 PM (EST)
The lake won't stay open, consistently anyway, where it's shallow. There will be a "tendency" for the shallows to stay open on account of the fact that the water of various temperatures (and different densities) in the deep areas won't simply stay "stacked like building blocks", but will spread out over a bigger area, but surely a lot of the shallow areas will freeze-up solid.
Posted by: kayamedic on Dec-15-12 11:56 PM (EST)
While you were posting this.. my pal and I were out paddling. Or trying to paddle. The river was open..but the cove we were in was frozen with a one inch thick layer of ice. The water was about four feet deep..
Don't do it|
Posted by: TrevorN on Dec-15-12 10:57 PM (EST)
If you fall into 35 degree water with no wetsuit your life expectancy will be about five minutes. I own wetsuits but I don't paddle once the water temps drops much below 50 even if the air temps are warm unless i am in water so shallow I can walk to shore if the boat capsizes.
another thing to add|
Posted by: FrankNC on Dec-17-12 9:53 AM (EST)
All this is really up to the individual. This weekend after listening to others I dressed far to warmly. Had to go to shore and Remove the dry pants and splash top and swim for a while. From now on I'll swim first an do a self rescue before going out in a new place or in a temperature that I haven't swum in a while.
Physiological Considerations factor in|
Posted by: willi_h2o on Dec-17-12 1:15 PM (EST)
Some of us do actually do it, know it, and try to help