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.
Once wind gets hold of a boat (or other object) and starts moving it, it quickly will exceed the swim speed of most. I lost a friend in high school who tried to chase a wind blown volleyball and have since seen this type of event several times.
As for temperatures, it is really a good thing to test what you can stand. The ocean off N. Ca. reaches a high near 62 or so in winter and is usually closer to 55 for the rest of the year. An hour in that is more than most can stand. I've been in colder water, and have even been able to swim for short periods in temps down to about 50 without a wetsuit, but it is REALLY not pleasant and I've only done this on really hot days.
A lot of this is predicated on knowing one's limits and I don't think that sub 50 F water should be approached without knowing what you can stand, how long you can stand it, and how quickly you lose physical skills due to hypothermia (and note that the brain is affected more quickly than the body and it is very difficult to exercise good judgement in such conditions).
YakCatcher Rod Holder
Gedi Convertible Helmet
First Need Purifier
Bent Shaft Canoe Paddles
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