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 Post subject: Rolling in cold water
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 23, 2010 9:58 pm 
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Does the "GASP REFLEX" occur when rolling a kayak in very cold water?

I have been practicing my roll in various pool sessions throughout the winter. As soon as the ice melts (midwest) I want to roll "live" so I can continue to develop my skills. Is there a specific technique to prevent the gasp reflex except for holding one breath? I want to roll a few times each paddling session. (I do have a drysuit and proper layering underneith). Not quite sure what to wear on my head if I desire to roll.

Thanks in advance to all who respond.


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Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 23, 2010 11:56 pm 
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2 words for you : Diving Hood. Buy the kind meant for a drysuit( without the big flange below the neck).
Diving hoods(and some surfing hoods ) are far superior for cold water rolling sessions compared to a neoprene beanie cap meant for paddling because a diving hood will keep your neck from instant chill.
Find something 2-4mm thick, over that and things get bulky and restrictive.


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Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 10:56 am 
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i have been out rolling in the ocean all winter including some sessions in the bottom of the capilano. All i wear is the Beanie Rider described. I find that if you are prepared for the shock mentally its ok. Plus because your whole body (with a wetsuit on) is not completely immersed you don't seem to get the same effect. I'm not sure but i think the gasping comes from your abdominal muscles reacting to the sudden cold not your neck.

either way i have yet to have a problem while rolling this season other than numb fingers. although the cold on the back of the neck is not pleasant.

Rob


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Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 1:29 pm 
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If you have the proper clothing, you can forget about the gasp reflex.
- I have a dive hood with a flange ... the flange goes on the outside of the latex gasket, but inside the fabric around the neck of the drysuit; thus minimizing cold water flushing.
- I wear earplugs of some kind to minimize surfer's ear.
- For lakes with near-freezing temperatures, a snorkel/dive mask will offer more protection than swim goggles (or nothing).
- A mustache doesn't hurt.
- Waterproof gloves are a big asset.
- If you get serious about cold water rolling, a tuilik worn outside of a drysuit is the best. Earplugs are optional.
- You may still have an exposed strip on the forehead. You may have to pause every few rolls to warm up. Not a big deal.
- Take advice from ocean rollers with a grain of salt ... ice-cold is a lot colder than ocean-cold.

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Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 11:25 pm 
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nootka wrote:
- Take advice from ocean rollers with a grain of salt ... ice-cold is a lot colder than ocean-cold.


low blow :lol:
i have rolled when there is ice on the water, and swam also (with gear on).
i don't claim to be a cold water expert though, just a nutter who rolls in anything.
:wink:


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Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2010 10:59 am 
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I only wear a beanie to roll in Lake Superior in the winter. No ice cream headache for a fast roll. Remember, the air is colder than the water so you may want to dry off quickly once upright or you may look like an ice sculpture.


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Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2010 12:37 pm 
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Alot of people will splash water on the back of their neck before rolling... just helps prepare the body for immersion.

Other than that... I agree with everything people have written above.

I use a paddler cap usually... (for ocean cold)... and works good. Occasionally get brain freeze if I have been rolling lots. But just have to stop and let the brain catch up.


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Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 6:23 pm 
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ear plugs. for the love of god, please wear ear plugs if you are repeatedly going out and rolling in cold water. having your ear canal close off and require surgery in years to come will SUCK.

I am shocked at how many sea kayakers do not know this (white water boaters wear ear plugs as standard equipment)

the old splashing water on the neck and face tricks does wonders to mitigate the cold shock reflex.

agreed with everyone - a divers hood or balaclava is the best way to go. 4mm max, you aren`t rolling in the arctic after all.

lastly, practice with a friend around in case you DO experience some serious cold shock. you can be layered up, hood, ear plugs etc etc....and still be susceptible to a powerful cold shock response. no sense in playing dangerously!


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Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 9:36 pm 
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I tested my cold shock response by putting on my drysuit, putting a snorkel in my mouth, having a friend hold the snorkel tube upright, and laying down in a foot of ice-cold lake water. My head was completely bare. If I had gasped, it would have been air (unless I spat out the snorkel first).

It is my understanding that if you get water in your lungs, you are in serious trouble. I'm not sure having a friend nearby in a second kayak will help much, unless they already had a grip on your kayak such that they could reef you out of the water immediately. I'd also think you'd need one friend to support you & a third friend to tow both of you.

I'd want to hear first or second hand anecdotes of well dressed kayakers who suffered a gasp reflex before I'd be concerned too much. I suppose it might be a problem if you were from the mideast ... but Canadians? We don't call it the Great White North for nothing.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention in my last post that if you get a dive hood with flange, you can trim the flange to fit your drysuit. It's just neoprene.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 10:56 pm 
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nootka wrote:
I tested my cold shock response by putting on my drysuit, putting a snorkel in my mouth, having a friend hold the snorkel tube upright, and laying down in a foot of ice-cold lake water. My head was completely bare. If I had gasped, it would have been air (unless I spat out the snorkel first).


i am no doctor but i had thought that the gasping reflex was from the chest muscles reacting to the cold water. I remember as a kid jumping into Georgian Bay with ice on it (stupid i know) and having my whole body clench into a ball as my muscles spasmed. luckily it was off a dock and i was pulled back out rather quickly. It would be interesting to try your snorkel experiment without to see the difference drysuit (if a little dumb and risky). If somebody smarter than i with more experience could clear this up before i get curious enough to try it would be appreciated.
I have never had a reaction with proper immersion gear on. :?


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Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 9:18 am 
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Some interesting pages on the topic. Thanks for opening this discussion, I had never considered this before. I usually just wear a wool toque in winter.

"The more fit your are, with a lower body fat content, the more susceptible you are to cold shock."
http://www.seakayak.ws/kayak/kayak.nsf/ ... 640054C71F

"If you are adequately dressed and prepared for cold water immersion, your accidental capsize is no more than an opportunity to practice your rolling or wet exit and capsize recovery skills."
http://greatoutdoorprovision.com/2008/1 ... -paddling/


This long (yet informative) artcile has the idea of beeswax or mineral oil to better protect the neck and face... hmmm
http://203.86.194.7/Sites/kask/gems/Col ... etypdf.pdf

Looks like being chubby has some benefit.
:wink:

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 12:24 pm 
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Quote:
ice-cold is a lot colder than ocean-cold.


Depends on the ocean. Vancouver Island waters don´t change much throughout the year. West coast of the island is about 50F all year. East Coast of Canada has much colder water with survival time of ten minutes due to ice floating in from the north.

Quote:
ear plugs. for the love of god, please wear ear plugs if you are repeatedly going out and rolling in cold water. having your ear canal close off and require surgery in years to come will SUCK.


What is considered cold water for which ear plugs should be worn?

Quote:
Does the "GASP REFLEX" occur when rolling a kayak in very cold water?


What triggers the gasp reflex? Is it cold to the head? To the chest? Perhaps the testicles? (I know that makes my voice go higher and louder quickly)

Important question because when rolling everything but the head is protected.


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 2:02 pm 
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I have heard many times that one is less prone to having the 'gasp reflex' if you have trained in cold water.

So get out there, and start swimming! (or rolling, or whatever you want to do :) )


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Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 6:51 pm 
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regarding ear plugs, anything below 52 degrees or so. most sea kayakers do NOT spend enough time upside down to warrant wearing ear plugs, but you know what they say - prevention is better than cure.

at this time of year in our neck of the woods I wear them religiously if I am going to go out practicing rolls, re-entries or rescues.

whitewater boats in glacier or snow melt fed rivers are the most susceptible to the "surfers ear" as it is called, but again they spend far more time exposing themselves to such cold water.


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Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 7:29 pm 
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mike

where would one find these earplugs, are they of a special variety or just your normal run of the mill foam ones will do??/ after talking with a few people, including one who has lasting damage from cold water i will be picking some up.

Rob


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Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 7:56 pm 
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wilder paddles wrote:
mike

where would one find these earplugs, are they of a special variety or just your normal run of the mill foam ones will do??/ after talking with a few people, including one who has lasting damage from cold water i will be picking some up.

Rob


Doc Ear Plugs
! They have vented style so you can still hear. I would not use the plugs that is for noise for real outing, I want to hear things on the water specially if it rough enough to tip me over. Maybe OK for just rolling practice.
Found at Kayak shop who dose a lot of WW. Surf Shop, Dive shop. I have not used them yet because I use a full cover hood and it keeps the water out of my ears most of the time. I should use them though.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 7:58 pm 
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You can get Docs Ear Plugs at Western Canoeing & Kayaking in Abbotsford (or on their website).

http://www.westerncanoekayak.com/produc ... on_id=5277

I'm sure there are other local shops that carry them too.

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Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:10 pm 
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wilder paddles wrote:
mike

where would one find these earplugs, are they of a special variety or just your normal run of the mill foam ones will do??/ after talking with a few people, including one who has lasting damage from cold water i will be picking some up.

Rob

I think MEC may also sell them, and I know that Sea To Sky kayaks in North Vancouver( by the water just near 2nd narrows on the way to deep cove) sell them as well, it's a whitewater shop.


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Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 11:10 pm 
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rider wrote:
wilder paddles wrote:
mike

where would one find these earplugs, are they of a special variety or just your normal run of the mill foam ones will do??/ after talking with a few people, including one who has lasting damage from cold water i will be picking some up.

Rob

I think MEC may also sell them, and I know that Sea To Sky kayaks in North Vancouver( by the water just near 2nd narrows on the way to deep cove) sell them as well, it's a whitewater shop.


I would rather drive to langley than to give sea to sky 1 penny of my money. Had too many bad experiences with that guys egotistical way of doing business.


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 Post subject: Re: Rolling in cold water
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2011 11:17 am 
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Safety Supply Store. I have been using these new orange ear plugs they have for noise protection.
They are cheap but work great.

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 Post subject: Re: Rolling in cold water
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2011 9:15 pm 
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Was out with a small group on the Seymour River in N Van, cool, overcast winter day(2-3 degrees), coooold water - no ice, but snow on the riverbanks not too far up the canyon. We were all dressed for immersion. 3 experienced paddlers, 1 newbie. The newbie was wearing long undie top and bottoms, fleece shirt, farmer jane, drytop, little rubber kayaking cap, neoprene gloves and a helmet. Newbie did a practice roll in the big eddy at the put-in (someone standing in the eddy to assist should things go awry). Managed to get upright and then gave us all a really good show of the gasp reflex. Said after the fact that while they knew the water was cold they weren't expecting it to be THAT cold. Based on my readings of Dr. Popsicle's works this is pretty classic. Exposure and acclimatization work so that you can briefly control it (ie. roll upright or pull skirt and surface) but you can't actually suppress it (let PFD do it's job while you gasp away). Should also point out that the 3 of us more experienced paddlers had all been rolling and playing away with no ill effects other than the ice-cream brain freeze, quickly cured by taking a moment to warm up, and that the newbie's gasping response didn't go away, though the severity lessened (a couple of shorter gasps rather than a more drawn out gasp-fest).

My two cents: knowing what the water temp is actually like will help, thus the splash the face bit. At the very least should help make it possible for you to breath hold and surface. Being overall dressed warmly so the whole body isn't involved in the process can prevent or minimize the gasp (washing my face in glacial melt water still makes me gasp - I just get over it quickly). There is a bit of personal variation here with some people being more susceptible and some people being less. I'm sure we all fluctuate with regards to our personal sensitivity as well. Play it safe the first few times until you figure out what your tolerances are. The snorkel test, or squatting down in shallow water with good footing so you can shoot upright and gasp away if necessary.

Interestingly I've also heard of someone experiencing the gasp response in tropical waters. The hypothesis was that it was the shock of the disparate temperatures between the sun-heated, overly warm body and the refreshing water temperature that caused the problem. Good thing for alert and responsive sailing partners!


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