Though I think the Portland buoy is overly optimistic for Friendship… yes, it looks like the buoys closer in on the bays where we’d be paddling are showing nicer water temps than those way out.
Warmer close to shore?
> it looks like the buoys closer in on the bays where we'd be paddling are showing nicer water temps than those way out.
That's a good question. I'm not so sure that principle always works. The tides do a pretty good job of exchanging the water just about everywhere off the coast, and even in a lot of deeper cut bays. I suspect there may be more subtle things going on, like ocean currents, rivers, etc. For example, nearer the Gulf Stream I can imagine farther out water temps actually being often higher than close to shore.
Anybody know how this works in general?
Anyway, I have anecdotal evidence both ways from the 4-star training around Damariscove Island on Sunday. On one side, John Carmody seemed to suffer no ill effects from five minutes in the water with play-acted hypothermia -- yeah, we did a lousy job getting him out quickly. And he wasn't even wearing a wet suit -- just shorts and a T-shirt! But he's tough. I, not so tough, found it uncomfortable but bearable for a minute in my shorty wet suit. But I wouldn't have enjoyed five minutes one little bit.
Your call, of course. But you know, whenever you choose not to pack some marginal item -- archetypically an umbrella -- you turn out to need that more than anything you did pack, and vice-versa. So, if you take your dry suits, you won't need them; if you don't, you will!
last couple of times surfing in ME, I felt the water was pretty temperate (actually perfect for surfing). I used only a 2 mm FJ, rashguard, drytop and a nylon cap under my helmet. My buddies were in shorts and drytop. But, none of us swam though we got wet a lot and rolled a lot. About a month ago I was trying my waveski in the MA. I swam alot in the same outfit and the water was just a tad over 50. I felt fine. But, I was moving alot, remounting paddling, swimming, etc. My drysuit at this point is put away (actually need to send in to Kokatat for refurbishing).
As posted before many times, you have to know your own tolerance to cold and basically the level of trust for your self recover and rescue skills.
You are tough
Hey, Sing: I definitely put you in the tough category. What that means is I'm not sure I would accept any cold-water advice from someone who thrives on surfing -- and thereby always getting pretty wet -- straight through the winter. ;-)))
But seriously... what we are talking about here is two paddlers, if I understand Jim & Celia's situation, going out as a pair far enough offshore that swimming or walking in is just not an option, as it might be with surfing.
From my e-knowledge of them, I'd be willing to bet that they have rarely, if ever, swum involuntarily in Muscongus over the years. So what we are talking about here is the unlikely but not inconceivable emergency situation where the difference between 10-15 functional minutes in the water and 60-90 minutes might be the difference between you-know-what and you-know what -- like whether a mayday on their VHF (which I assume they carry ;-) will produce a boat soon enough to be of use. So, whether their tolerance is 10-15 minutes, or 5-10, or 15-20 is not the big issue.
Frankly, if it was me and one other paddler competent in handling scenarios, offshore in 53 degree water, I would suffer my dry suit without hesitation, and we'd roto-cool a lot. 58 degrees, it would depend on other factors. 63, most always a wet suit would do. Three competent paddlers, subtract 3 degrees from those figures. Or something like that... and so on.
Cautious? Yep. Wimpy? Mebbee. --David.
Not that tough. I dress for winter surf in drysuit, surf hood, drygloves, etc.
. I go alone alot. The surf and whitewater pretty much challenge and test me than most of my touring paddles. Perhaps, I am just (over)confident of my own self recover/rescue skills.
Of course, the safest thing is to wear the drysuit if one thinks that one is going to be in the 50 degree water more than 15 minutes swimming…
It’s not the routine I’m concerned about
It's about the unexpected but "normal" event turning life-threatening.
For example, if I'm out walking around the neighborhood, a severe sprained ankle is hardly a mortal emergency. Even at the top of Mt. Adams on a warm, calm Saturday in July, I'd be fine, if a bit embarassed, as they litter me down. But change that to some obscure peak in winter and a badly sprained ankle could have serious consequences, depending on the size, skills and equipment of the climbing party.
Taking this back to kayking... If I'm out alone in 53 degree water, dislocate my shoulder and can therefore neither roll nor do any other self-rescue, my life is in real danger. Likewise for severe abdominal cramps and fever (from that lovely shrimp dinner) and I can't stay upright. A dry suit might well buy me enough margin to mayday and get help in time (having a flare in my pfd would be nice too). Adding a second competent paddler reduces that risk a whole lot, but common agreement and sense still say that there's a well-above-zero risk of a routine emergency turning tragic. Add more competent, well-equipped paddlers and that risk heads down to the Mt.Adams-in-summer level, that is, essentially zero.
So, to me it's all about margins of safety and reducing the risk that an unlikely but far from inconceivable "normal" problem could kill me.
it's knowing the possible risks, deciding how much risk you're willing to entertain and managing it. This is different from going forth without awareness of the possible risks.
We each have a different level of risk aversion. These two are proposing to not abide by the "rule of three." For the very risk aversive, this is a "no-no." But, they can offset with a drysuit and other equipment for an in-the-water contingency. Others are willing to deal with even more risks...
The "walk in the park" example was funny. For years, I used to take an early spring and late fall solo backpacking trip for a week or more. One trip, I did get pretty sick and holed in my tent and sleeping bag for three days straight. On another trip, it rained/snowed the whole week and the trek up and down moutains became a little dicier. Uncomfortable but I never felt fear though I was cut off from outside contact (pre cell phone days). For me, the risks were outweighed by the benefits, the determination of which is totally personal and subjective. I WANTED to be out there alone. To be out there with someone else would reduce the risks but also take away what I cherished most about those trips into solitude.
The Drysuits Are Always with Us
Me in particular since with the illeostomy it is critical to keeping the whole thing dry enough that I don’t have to do a change every other island on a day trip. And I get cold easier than my husband.
The larger question was whether we were going to bring more proper insulating layers and wear them as shirts the rest of the time, or bring more walking around type T’s and shirts. Two days from leaving and we have both chosen option 1.
I don’t mind that the surface water may be a little nearer 60 though - I was upside down in that a couple of weekends ago at a mountain reservoir and actually found it to be a nice temperature. But I’m not tough enough to like even that without a drysuit, let alone colder.
The buoys that are the best indicators for us, like the West Penobscott one, are recording high 50’s. That’s fine.
Thanks all - since the discussion has gone to some other useful thoughts I’ll leave it run for another day, but will probably kill it before I leave.
Ah yes… insulating layers
I won’t prolong this thread, expcept to say that I would love to see a discussion of insulating layers under dry suits. In fact, it makes almost no sense to talk about wearing or not wearing a dry suit without considering the insulating layers.
Until last night on Round Lake, the primary consideration has been what to wear under dry suit. I discovered a couple of years ago in my dry seperates that Gore-Tex does not provide warmth when in water, simply dryness which allows for warmth. We are bringing a full range to wear under dry suits (from wicking Duofold through polypro fleece.)
Considering the most recent temp info, I am also bringing my FJs and rash guard to wear for close in work/paddles.
Roto cooling is always a plus. I find that if I am anxious about it, I can simply use Celia’s bow.
Thus far in the over a decade of paddling Muscongus, neither one of us has been capsized by conditions (knock on wood). My accidental capsizes have been from working on skills and pushing beyond my abilities to recover from a brace or some such. This summer we plan on doing a lot of skills work and as a result will be getting very wet.
And yes we always carry a VHF set to receive NOAA alerts – ever since getting caught by a storm a few years ago that arrived hours sooner than was predicted as of when we set out. The addition this year may be carrying one of our cell phones, as we found last year that there is some cell reception on Muscongus.