Cold Water

Discussion in 'Paddling Safety' started by dut, Dec 3, 2017.

  1. AM

    AM Paddler

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    I agree that many of those deaths from drowning are likely the result of cold shock/gasp reflex. Those deaths show up, however, as "not wearing PFD" in the reports, since we can determine that fact quite easily. Hence, the no-brainer: wear a PFD.

    I also appreciate your anecdote about winter rolling without a hood. I always wear a hood and plugs when rolling,even in summer, not only to prevent gasping, but also surfer's ear down the road, another danger that has to be stressed. Seems silly to drop >$1K on a drysuit but not buy a $40 neoprene hood.

    As for gasping, I've never seen anyone aspirate water, though I heard of one case on this board many years ago. That was a paddler in English Bay. I'll see if I can find the link.

    Cheers,
    Andrew
     
  2. dut

    dut Paddler

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    A great resource for learning about cold water exposure is the Cold Water Boot Camp website by Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht a University of Manitoba researcher. The basis of his findings is the 1-10-1 rule. Briefly on immersion you need to manage your breathing for 1 minute, if you inhale water problems follow. You have 10 minutes to effect your rescue before you lose muscle control. Lastly 1 hour before hypothermia results in losing consciousness.

    My understanding that these numbers are for very cold water - even colder that the 8C we might find at our local beach and no thermal protection. Our personal flotation assists in each of the phases, especially the first and second.

    The website is www.coldwaterbootcamp.com

    Barry
     
  3. Man in qajaq

    Man in qajaq Paddler

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    One piece of advice for the anticipation of cold water immersion that I don't think has been mentioned is carrying a drybag with a spare change of clothing is a real comfort.
    Also bringing a thermos of something warm. Tea, hot chocolate, warmed V8 or clamato juice, etc really is helpful after a swim.
     
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  4. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    A Kokatat storm cagoule, which can go over 'everything' and snap on to the cockpit rim, is also something to consider. They don't have any insulation, but do make a difference - I use mine at lunch stops on cool and rainy days, over the PFD.
    https://kokatat.com/blog/storm-cag-review

    On the water, it would be a team effort to get one on, unless the conditions were very calm (which is not when you'd likely be swimming).
     
  5. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    John wrote: A Kokatat storm cagoule, which can go over 'everything' and snap on to the cockpit rim, is also something to consider. They don't have any insulation, but do make a difference - I use mine at lunch stops on cool and rainy days, over the PFD.

    Likewise, a local group of elite paddlers whose jousts often exposed them to immersion gear conditions, exploited a smallish circular shroud of waterproof/windproof cloth for group huddling during snack and lunch breaks. On a decent beach, all backs out, the shroud allowed the group to share food, drink, warmth, and jabber away. Disassembly was swift, allowing all to get under way without excessive cooldown.

    Looked pretty weird, of course.
     
  6. drahcir

    drahcir Paddler

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    I also consider the storm cag as a piece of safety gear. A few years ago I was cooling down way too fast in Prince William Sound. I donned my cag and warmed right up, despite the lack of insulation ... as John suggests.
     
  7. Kayak Jim

    Kayak Jim Paddler

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    I don't have one (yet) but thought one of the advantages was that a cag was a layer that could be easily put on solo (no need to remove pfd, etc.)? One arm, regrab paddle. Second arm, regrab paddle. Then pop head through. No?
     
  8. drahcir

    drahcir Paddler

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    It can be put on solo as you describe, but if the water is too rough that becomes a challenge. I've never had a problem, but I avoid really rough water ... maybe even mildly rough.
     
  9. JKA

    JKA Paddler

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    When coaching a group I carry a plastic bag that was a cover for a king-size mattress. Slit along the long side it serves very well as a bothy bag. Considered rubbish by the mattress-suppliers who are happy to give them away, they are a free, but bulkier and heavier version of this:

    http://www.terra-nova.co.uk/p/help-advice/product-guides/understanding-the-bothy/
     
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  10. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    The Ortik Tupec bivy sack is based on a similar idea:
    OrtikTupec.JPG
    https://www.be-wak.fr/en/20427-hiking-tent-tupek-ortik-tpk11.html
     
  11. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

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  12. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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  13. Alana

    Alana Wave Seeker

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    I'm a huge fan of storm cags. There is one in my day hatch every time I go out. I've lent it out countless times to paddlers in the group (or students) who didn't wear enough, or they got wet. It's really quick to put on, as it's large enough to go over everything, and it's super effective. It's also big enough to fit a range of body sizes.

    It's also great to put on once you reach shore for a lunch break, especially if it's a bit breezy.

    I found that if you roll it up and use a strip of velcro (something like a bicycle pant leg strap) it can be packed up nice and compact and it's easy to 'unwrap'. Once I use it, I don't bother packing it up all neat... it just gets shoved in the day hatch until I get home.
     
  14. JKA

    JKA Paddler

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    Alan, what storm cag are you using? I love the idea, but the prices make my eyes water.

    I've looked online at the Kokatat Storm Cag:

    https://kokatat.com/product/gore-tex-storm-cag-pjupsc

    I've also considered the Peak UK Ocean Bothy:

    https://www.peakuk.com/jackets?product_id=141

    But...looking at them and thinking about their purpose, they're essentially a windproof layer big enough to go over everything, possibly with a spraydeck built in. That seems like a pretty simple item to make. (So says the man who has been forbidden to use his wife's sewing machine, so the "simple" task won't be mine!)

    They don't need to be fancy fabric, they aren't a form-fitting shape, they're a plastic sack with arms and a hood.

    Am I dumbing this down, or are we paying for features we don't need?

    Cheers

    John
     
  15. AM

    AM Paddler

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    Well, a cheap alternative we use with our school club is the contractor bag: a heavyweight garbage bag that we punch holes in for the head and arms. It serves the same purpose, being a waterproof, windproof barrier that traps body heat. We buy a box of these bags every couple of seasons at Home Depot.
     
  16. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    Your power tool collection isn't complete until you have your own sewing machine! :) You don't need anything fancy to build gear. Drop in to hammockforum; there are lots of guys who can use a 'power thread injector' over there.

    It's actually fairly tricky (IME) to make a decent hood pattern. If you had an XL pullover rain jacket with a hood, you could add on to the bottom of it to make the 'skirt' part. Or if you had a cagoule left over from 'days of yore'...they were pretty much 'de rigueur' for young climbers trying to imitate Gaston Rebuffat and the hard men of the (European) Alps.
     
  17. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    In days of poverty and spare time, I sewed up some cagoules, patterning hoods off mountain parkas, with limited success. Suggestions: Flat felled seams, drawstring face closure, well sealed seams, boost the hood and neck opening dimensions to allow for bulky headgear, coated polyester.

    And, consider oversized bivy bags for shoreside breaks.

    Bottom line: if you really need either bivy bags or a cagoule to warm up when your body is at rest and out of the water, then your basic thermal insulation and outer layers are insufficient protection from cold immersion water self rescues, I bet, especially the worst case: reentry failure or a prolonged swim. Better to adjust at launch.
     
  18. Pawistik

    Pawistik Paddler

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    My drysuit, bothy bag and cag are 3 of the best paddling gear purchases that I've ever made.

    I bought a storm cag used off of the forum here last winter or spring. It came in VERY handy during my Reindeer Lake trip this summer when a storm squall hit us when we were on the water. Another day I loaned it to if the other paddlers during an all day rain (it started out warmish, so he wasn't in a drysuit that day) and he attributes it to saving his bacon. On at least one other occasion I used it during a shore lunch/rain squall break.

    The bothy bag that I have been carrying around the last few years and only ever used for demonstrations came in very handy (ie very nearly a lifesaver) while we waited out the worst of a severe storm slamming us. Hard to put up an emergency shelter like a tarp when trees are falling down around you, but it takes seconds to get onto the beach (to windward of falling trees) and throw the bothy over 3 guys to huddle and wait out the onslaught. It paid for itself in spades during that hour we spent huddled in a nylon bag eating snickers bars.

    This photo shows me in the cag during probably the hardest rain that I've ever paddled through and it was great to pull on the cag just before the storm hit us (I was wearing a hat and with nowhere to put the hat once I was wearing the cag, I just crammed it back on my head over the hood of the cag). This was a day of warm air temperatures, moderate water temperatures (cool to swim in, but definitely swim-able) where we were wearing neoprene immersion layers or similar immersion protection, but not drysuits.
    [​IMG]
    After the storm:
    [​IMG]

    A photo from another day on Reindeer Lake, here I'm pretty happy here to be able to throw the cag on during our lunch break while waiting out a rain squall.
    [​IMG]

    Cheers,
    Bryan
     
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  19. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    Does the cag fit OVER your spray skirt around the coaming?
     
  20. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    Yes.
    Though I've never used mine this way, I did check that it would fit over the coamings on my boats.
    The cag is big enough to go over the PFD and sprayskirt at a lunch stop - I like to keep the extra insulation on (not take off the PFD and skirt - on cool days..)