@Allan Olesen said:
Care to elaborate? I’m trying to get at the root issue here because my impression is that is doesn’t have much to do with the style of boat.
To me, his concerns seems quite rational and justified. Those concerns have a lot to do with the boat and the other equipment.
Removing a spray skirt during winter paddling does have more causes for error than removing a spray skirt during summer paddling. Gloves can be one of those causes. Cold fingers can be another. Beginning, mild hypothermia (which may have occurred unnoticed already before the capsize) can be a third, affecting your ability to think clearly below the water.
Winter paddling, sometimes with ice on the water, has given me a lot of respect for these problems. I more or less consider any training I did during the summer as “forgotten” when I reach winter. I have to train everything again, in cold water and with the exact gloves, etc. which I will use during actual winter paddling.
To be fair, the way I posed the initial question was not clearly winter-specific. Now that I am thinking a bit more clearly I see this as a double or even a triple-edged issue. First, there’s a fear of being under in favorable conditions. This is something understandable for a beginner, but most people to get a hang of it pretty quickly. I am no exception, I did just fine during classes and on my own in warmer water with a wetsuit on. There are certainly techniques to help, for example tapping a boat three times before pulling the skirt helps to zen oneself out nicely. In this conditions, overcoming a fear of being under is not unlike an exposure exercise your therapist might prescribe if you have anxiety issues.
Second, less ideal conditions, but no extremes. I can clearly see that me is the biggest variable here. Even after an hour or two of paddling, my mind starts to “glaze over”. I am scanning the environment less actively, anything like an attempt to edge starts carrying a larger potential for error.
I used to downhill ski a fair bit and I know how it goes. Fatigue creeps over you, but you don’t realize it until you start making errors. It used to be my criteria for calling it a day - if I start wiping out more than usual, it is time to wrap it up. It takes a while for the real fatigue to clearly manifest itself, but you are already impaired. At the time you are packing, you feel fine and perhaps capable of staying longer. The you drive home for a while and it’s all fine until you get out of the car and realize how massively tired you are. I have observed the same thing with paddling outings. Exact same thing.
Third, winter. All of the above plus everything looks and feels and smells very different. You are packed in layers, hood, gloves. you are most likely completely alone unless you are in a group. In summer, every time I practiced self-rescue, someone would paddle over and offer assistance. Every time without fail. One time, a dragon boat full of paddles pulled over
In winter, there are a few passers by at the shore that could care less. Paddle around the corner and you are on your own. That was basically the point when I saw clearly that winter is not just a colder summer, but something else entirely. At that point I can no longer fully subscribe to “it’s all in your head” idea without examining the whole thing from a rational and detailed perspective.
“Ski vs kayak” subject is basically a case study. Ski removes one of the variables, but quite possibly adds others. The question is whether it can realistically tip the scales significantly enough.