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Pavillon Beach... Dec 23


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Went for a bit of a nippy paddle yesterday out in Plum Island Sound.

I had good info that the beach launching was looking good. Usually I try to pick the warmest day of the week, but with the holidays and all, Wed was the best day for me to paddle this week so I went for it.

Temps about 28 F

It was the 1st truly winter paddle with this particular boat, so it offered a bit of a "learning experince". I suppose it kind of came under the category of "there's more to winter paddling than just... er..paddling"

This particular boat uses straps to latch down hatch covers, love it all other trips..but the lesson of the day was ...splash and spray from the choppy water started freezing on the deck (and myself).

I stayed warm till my lunch break which is often when the cold can catch up to you, and so it did.

The straps for the hatches froze over....in the front hatch was my jacket with extra gloves.

The ones I needed to stay warm....I had been paddling fine wearing poggies, but I had dry gloves inside the hatch. Sure enough the frozen straps would not release and I found my fingers freezing fast becoming more and more useless the more they were exposed.

Not the 1st time it has ever happened to me hiking and what not so I had a good idea how fast it can happen...but throw a little water into the mix and it sure does happen fast !

I finally stood on the opposite side of the boat and pulled or maybe clawed at the strap untill they finally released.

I grabbed the gloves to put on, but my "education" continued as I tried to put them on. My hands wet and cold did not want to slide into the gloves, but made me work each finger into them bit by bit. Pretty painful... more so when they "thawed" later in the trip.

So a few of the things I learned or was reminded of once more for this season was...

...Mittens would have been easier to put on.

...better if I had kept them with me in the cockpit, or on my person.

...need to change out the straps for a different arrangement ...something more mitten/glove friendly.


I was reminded that any hopes using a paddle float would seem unrealistic in such cold as I wouldn't have the dexterity to use it.

So a nice paddle all in all and a good day to work out the "kinks" on a shorter paddling day early in the season instead of a more epic day later on when things could "snowball" into a more difficult situation.

Happy Holidays!

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Two helpful tips from experience:

Sometimes if you splash salt water on the frozen straps, they will usually thaw enough. The water temp is about 45 right now so they would have stayed wet/thawed enough to use them for a bit in the 28 degree air temps. Same thing with the spray skirt if it freezes onto your deck.

Gloves - my favorite spot to keep a pair of gloves dry and handy is to put a pair of fleece gloves inside my drysuit, just above the waist. Lay them flat on your chest. They never get in the way and they don't move around, i can't even feel them. BUT they are right there to warm my frozen fingers up if need be. Most of the time I don't even need them until after paddling and I can slip them right on my cold fingers.

Good for you for getting out!


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Thanks for the good ideas. I'll be putting them to use this Thurs if all goes well.

I was surprised when the straps froze over and wondered if it was in part because I was in and estuary setting where there might have been less salt in the water.

I have already changed some of the straps...it was a good reminder to keep some kind of multi tool or knife handy in case I needed to cut them off.

Good idea about keeping the gloves under the dry suit. I've done much the same when winter hiking, all crucial things kept next to your body if you really needed to keep them from freezing..I was wondering if winter paddlers did the same..now I know for next time...

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Thanks for sharing your experience Spider. As far as the straps freezing maybe some excess bodily fluids could have melted the ice. Also the freezing temp of human urine is -5C or 23F degrees due to the content of amonia. A significantly lower temp than salt water which is around 28 degrees F

A small dry bag inside your cockpit or in your day hatch if your kayak has one could've been a good place for extra gloves and or fleece pullover. I know even the rubber hatch covers can be difficult to remove when the temps drop below freezing. This is especially true with VCP hatch covers.

I like Suz's idea of gloves inside your drysuit.


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