Drove all night for some WV surfing and woke to snow flying and highs in the 40’s? OMG this is awful! No wait, I boat all winter and think this is fine so why does it feel so wrong right now? Oh yeah – because i’m looking at my shorty and light fleece and wondering what became of my pogies this summer…. Thankfully I threw in my ‘winter bag’ and had almost everything I needed this week.
In case you haven’t boated in snow already and even if it’s still 60’s where you live – here are some tips to make that first frosty trip as good as it can be.
A. Get out your winter gear: fleeces, paddle pants, drysuit, scull cap, pogies, neo shorts / pants whatever along with all essentials.
B. Check for wear, wash till it’s tolerable, and FIX or replace anything damaged right now. Check all latex gaskets, put your head inside and look for light to spot pinholes, sew / glue anything torn or damaged while the aquaseal has time to dry and you can order a gasket before you need one.
C. Stop ALL leaks! Wet pants and shoes are way colder than dry even if it’s just on the outside, and why should they be wet if you didn’t swim? Seal up all kayak screw holes (if your kayak is unfortunate enough to have them), patch even the tiniest wear on your sprayskirt with black neoprene cement, and touch up any wear marks on shoes, gloves, pogies, etc with aquaseal or duct tape.
D. Check paddle for impact damage or wear – especially the shaft. Look for spider-web cracks or lighter areas in the glass in addition to obvious gouges and ask someone more experienced if you aren’t sure if it needs replacing. One broken paddle can mean a night out in the dark or running a line you never intended to… or just a cold afternoon of hiking… take a breakdown if you have doubts, but replace it if you think ‘maybe’.
E. Check your KAYAK for thin spots under the seat, ‘chalk lines’ where the plastic is whitish showing signs of hard impact, and of course any cracks or gouges. Take tar tape if there’s a chance you’ll need it and consider replacement if you plan on longer days in colder weather where impacts are common.
F. Organize your scull cap, pogies, space blanket, lighter, headlight, warm hat and gloves into a nice little ”frigid bag” with the rest of your gear, so you’ll know right where it is when you need it.
G. And the worst one of them all – get ready to wake up early if you don’t want to paddle out late. The sun goes down sooner, so make sure to check the ‘sunset’ times before you head out but also remember the sun will be lower angle so it just gets dark sooner real fast this time of year. Gone are the ‘Meet at Noon’ and ”Surf till 9pm” days of Summer, hello ”Driving in dark to paddle in light”. It’s not quite here, but if we start mentally preparing now maybe it will help ease the pain.
That’s all I’ve got for now – post any tips YOU may have in the ”comments” section below so we can all enjoy as much boating as possible even as the days get shorter and colder.
See you in an icy eddy before long…