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Getting Ready for an April Trip to Quadra

Pawistik

Paddler
Joined
Apr 28, 2010
Messages
614
Location
Saskatoon, SK
Hi Folks,

I'll be heading out West in the third week of April for a PC Level 2 kayak course in the vicinity of Comox and Quadra Island (Discovery Islands Lodge). Being that I'm a prairie boy, I'm not too sure what to expect and what paddling gear I should bring or acquire. I'm expecting cold water (6°C?), moderate air temperatures (warmer than typical in Sask in April, but not warm), and a high probability of being rained on.

Specifically, I'm wondering about dry suits, dry tops & dry pants. I do not own a dry suit, but I do own a dry top. I would like to know what you think of my idea of getting some dry pants (or semi-dry pants) to go with my dry top. Is this an adequate solution for the expected conditions? I expect that we'll be doing a certain amount of work IN the water, so something to help keep me comfortable will be welcomed of course. I know that a dry suit is likely best, but, they cost a lot of money and really my opportunity to use one is fairly limited. With travel & accommodations, this course is already costing me over $1300. I can purchase dry pants for a lot less money than a full suit, and I think the resulting combination will be more versatile together with the dry top.

I also own a shorty wet suit, if that would be a useful addition to the system.

So, what say you? Sure, I know I can ask the course instructor this sort of thing (I haven't yet received the detailed information from her, such as what to bring/wear), but what's the fun in that? ;)

Cheers,
Bryan in Saskatoon
 
Dry pants are only relatively dry, whether we're talking about the kind with the cinch-up neoprene waistband or the kind that 'mate' with a top by rolling together. I only have direct experience of the cinch-up type (Kokatat Tempest pants), but since those are the cheapest option, I'm assuming you have been looking at them. If you swim in them, expect seepage down your waist and into your legs.

I think drypants do fill a niche: I can see them being very useful for summer touring, where you are not playing aggressively and are being conservative with your paddling, don't expect to capsize, etc. and simply want something to keep your feet and bum dry for daylong comfort.

However, in your case PC Level 2 will see you in the water probably every day doing rescures, reentries, etc., so you need gear that you will be comfortable in submerged. Since Level 2 requires only 1 night of camping during the course, I think you would be better off with a good farmer john and lots of fleece under your drytop. That should keep you warm for the daily swim sessions and you would be able to dry everything out overnight in whatever accommodation you're staying in (Discovery Lodge?).

I understand your quandry: I am doing PC Level 3 this year and had the same cost-benefit decision to make. I ended up buying a used drysuit. Level 3, however, is early April and every night is camping, so dryness and comfort become more of an issue.

Good luck.
Andrew
 
If possible, try and arrange to borrow or rent a dry suit through the group organizing the trip/training. I use the Tempest pant/Dry top combination and I can attest that it is not ideal for regular "swimming". It will keep you dry if you can roll up, or if you're wading into the water, but for full submersion and repeated self rescues you will get wet. Not soaked, but you will have leakage. If it was a one day course that wouldn't be a concern, but over a few days you will run out of dry clothes and might have a miserable time.

I second the idea of trying to find a used dry-suit, if you can.
 
Drying off clothing in one overnight might be an issue at the lodge; they run on solar with generator backup and aren't pumping out a lot of heat. The upstairs wood stove will be the main source of heat for drying things I think. You might check with the lodge owners for their input on that; Ralph is a kayaker and obviously familiar with what works there. So if you go the farmer john wetsuit with drytop combo, an extra day's worth of fleece would give an extra day for drying out.

I've not had good luck with the drytop/drypants combo for extended or frequent submersion. Echoing earlier responses, the farmer john and drytop is probably your cheapest viable alternative The nonleaking drysuit, of course, is your best alternative other than its cost.
 
You can rent a drysuit.

I believe that Kayak Academy does so, but I have no idea what they might charge.
 
Thanks for the replies folks.

We'll be camping out 2 nights, even though only one night is required by the PC course.

Cheers,
Bryan
 
Drysuit rentals run $30-40 per day. Add on a day on either side for picking up and returning, and the bill can add up. At a certain point, it just makes sense to buy one.

When I did PC Level 2, it was a four night campout in late May with cold, rainy conditions. Four of us had drysuits, two had wetsuits. The drysuited people were definitely more comfortable and it sure sucked getting into a clammy wetsuit every morning, but at that time I was determined to keep my costs down so I just dealt with it. It turned out to be an amazing experience overall and I came to see the challenge of staying warm to be part of the learning process. Listening to the rain drumming on my tarp at 6:00 every morning, lying there knowing that my *^&% wetsuit was out there waiting for me like some dripping ghoul, became a grim pleasure.

Andrew
 
drahcir said:
Sounds like a neat opportunity. Will you be playing in Surge Narrows (helmeted, presumably)?
I know we are doing stuff in and around Surge Narrows. Don't know much else though. So, I should pack my broomball helmet too?

I know of a used drysuit that a fellow has for sale. He should be back from his own trip west tomorrow so maybe I'll go try his suit on before I make any decisions.

Cheers,
Bryan
 
Ecomarine in Vancouver rents Kokatat GMER dry suits. It will be the best investment you can make in having a positive outcome. Being dry and comfortable increases learning outcomes exponentially, especially when practicing rescues, rolling and when you will no doubt capsize while learning about currents.

strongly recommend you rent one. if you are cold, wet and miserable and only thinking about when you can get warm and dry you are not thinking about what is being presented, listening and being engaged as a student.
 
The level 2 course specifies a max of 3 knots current, which is barely enough to get a good ferry angle at Surge.
 
Ecomarine is no longer renting suits. Too much repair work apparently. That leaves Deep Cove locally.
 
nootka said:
The level 2 course specifies a max of 3 knots current, which is barely enough to get a good ferry angle at Surge.

my assumption would be that they head over to the dogleg (sorry, goepel passage, as lanny insists) for the main current work. i found the flow at around 3kn there just enough for the intro to ferrying...
 
One idea that I haven't seen suggested yet is to rent(or buy?) a wetsuit meant for surfing. It'll have that rubber band effect of a full body wetsuit,so not ideal for long periods of paddling, but for immersion it's the next best thing to a drysuit.
 
Been there, done that. Rider, you've nailed it: surfsuits are terrible for paddling, but quite awesome for horsing around in the water. I've worn mine for kayak surfing and for training and I was very impressed. In some senses, they are better than drysuits for training because there is less of a danger of catching fabric and tearing the suit. I only know one other guy who uses one, and he prefers his surfsuit to his drysuit for really wet activities like re-entry practice.

Now for the downsides: besides nasty armpit rash, there are two. First, struggling into a wet surfsuit is like wrestling a python. Second, there's no place to pee except in the suit. That might rule out borrowing one... :lol:
 
I agree with AM :big_thumb Farmer john is the versatile way to go? I used this combination my first couple years. Not sure I would buy a used drysuit. Better off using wetsuit till you can buy new drysuit JMO.
 
I'm assuming by the approx. date and venues this course is being offered by Comox Valley Kayaks (CVK).
Here's what the website says...
Expect to be in the water on each day of the course, especially the first two skills days. The water is cold! You will need immersion gear; drysuits are preferred, but a wetsuit (provided by us) and a paddling jacket will also work. Helmets are also required. We have a small number and will try to fit everyone with an appropriate size.
http://www.comoxvalleykayaks.com/lessons/paddle-canada-courses/level-2-certification.html

If it is CVK, contact them to arrange the wetsuit.

Enjoy...Doug Taylor runs a great course.
 
Ken B said:
I'm assuming by the approx. date and venues this course is being offered by Comox Valley Kayaks (CVK).
Here's what the website says...
Expect to be in the water on each day of the course, especially the first two skills days. The water is cold! You will need immersion gear; drysuits are preferred, but a wetsuit (provided by us) and a paddling jacket will also work. Helmets are also required. We have a small number and will try to fit everyone with an appropriate size.
http://www.comoxvalleykayaks.com/lessons/paddle-canada-courses/level-2-certification.html

If it is CVK, contact them to arrange the wetsuit.

Enjoy...Doug Taylor runs a great course.

Ken, you are at least half right. I am actually taking the course through Kingston Kayak Instruction and Viki Cirkvencic. But, Viki is working together with Doug and Comox Valley Kayaks to put on this course, so you are spot on. Viki is a local instructor here in Saskatoon. Thanks for pointing me to the description from CVK - the info there is much more detailed than what Viki has put up on the website, though I know she is sending out detailed information shortly, including recommended gear.

I did have some time to talk with Viki this evening about dry tops, (not quite) dry pants, and dry suits. Her comments echoed much of what has been said here, that the dry pants/top combo is not really dry and will be OK for walking into the water and OK for paddling, but not the best for actual sustained immersion. She is of the opinion that I should look into a dry suit if I can afford it, that it will be worth it in the long run. A friend of ours does have one for sale so I'll talk to him and see what condition it is in and perhaps test it out for leaks on Wednesday evening at the local kayak club's pool session.

So that does give me a few options - I can see if that used dry suit is gonna work for me, otherwise I may be able to borrow or rent what I need from CVK.

Cheers,
Bryan
 
You lose most of your heat through your head, armpits and groin; any place where there is major blood flow near the body surface. These are the areas that need to be protected most.

A dry top over a lightweight farmer john and a neoprene hood that fits under the helmet. Paddling gloves and neoprene boots with teva sandals to protect the extremeties. There will be some leakage of water but it will not be enough to compromise body core temperatures.
 
Make sure the used suit is actually a dry suit without holes or worn out material. I saw one person who was loaned a supposed dry suit. She was wet and suffering from stage 1 hypothermia within 15 minutes of her first wet exit.
 
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