Colder Conditions Require Appropriate Attire and Preparation

As we leave the summer of 2019 foundering in our wake, the air and water temperatures have become noticeably cooler and the wetsuit or thermally protective attire that may have been optional just a few weeks ago are now mandatory. Recently Jericho Rescue assisted a beginner windsurfer, no wetsuit, who was in the initial stage of hypothermia. This is not a risk people should be taking when launching from Jericho at this time of year. Play safe and dress for survival.

What does this mean? It depends on your activity. If you are sailing or windsurfing then a cold water wetsuit is in order. A full length 4/3mm or thicker wetsuit with a proper hood or hat would be a minimum. Wetsuit manufacturers also offer accessory thermal layers to add warmth as conditions get colder. This is a great way to extend the usefulness of your your regular suit. Some folks prefer drysuits – this time of year it would be important to make sure you are wearing proper insulating layers beneath your drysuit. In either case, check to make sure your suit is in good condition with no holes and that the seals are functioning properly. Heat loss from your head and/or neck should be addressed with a hood, hat and/or a neck tube.

If you are paddling or rowing its a good idea to add insulating and/or wind-blocking layers to a dry bag in the bottom of your boat in case you get wetter than expected or to layer up and down with as you cycle through work and recovery intervals during your workout. It’s important that these layers work well when wet and do not absorb water – wool and synthetics are recommended.

Additionally, sailing, paddling or rowing in the cold means being smart about your route and preparation. Mitigate your chances of being caught out in the cold by doing more laps closer to home instead of forging further from shore. If you do fall in and your body starts to cool off more quickly than it can generate heat, the 1-10-1 rule states you’ll only have about 10 minutes or so of coordinated gross motor strength and function. Plan your route so that you can quickly return to shore should you get colder than expected during your activity. However, if you cannot manage to re-board your craft after a capsize, always stay with your craft – it is far easier to spot than a person in the water. If you do venture further from shore be prepared with a way to call for help. A cell phone in a waterproof case or a VHF marine radio (as long as you are licensed to operate it) are good items to bring with you.

Use the Buddy System. Always sail, paddle, row with someone else, especially in cold water conditions. Let a reliable friend or relative know when and where you are going and when you expect to return. Diligently contact them upon your safe return. If you are launching from Jericho Beach stop in at the JSCA office to let us know when and where you are going and when you expect to return.