Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cold Weather Limits, Drysuit, Stuff for Sale

November scene from Canoe Beach, Nahant, Massachusetts

Y'all probably noticed the poll about cold weather windsurfing and kiting that I put in the left hand sidebar. (Encountering my cold weather limits here in MA got me curious about other folks' temperature thresholds.) The survey results are spread out, but most people, including me, seem to call it quits somewhere between 45 and 50 degrees F. In my experience, that's the temperature zone where it becomes critical to have all your extremities covered and your core well-insulated. Any "chink in the armor" will be painfully obvious, and you may be a bit uncomfortable even when totally swaddled. Personally I'm amazed how I can be totally cozy in 55 degrees, even with no gloves and my hood pulled back, while in 45 degrees I can barely handle it with all my gear on.

To try to extend my limit down to ~40 degrees, and extend my season by a month or so on either end, I picked up a used drysuit. It's a "bag" style suit that you wear clothes underneath. I haven't had a chance to use it yet because the week of cold wind we were having suddenly gave way to calm, sunny 60 degree weather. But I did go ahead and shave my wrists and ankles so the gaskets will seal better. Apparently if you have a hard crash a bit of water will squeeze through the gaskets, so you don't want to wear any nice clothes underneath it.



To make room for the new drysuit I'm selling an older semi-dry wetsuit that I never use anymore, cheap (see sidebar). It's 6 mm thick and very warm, but it wouldn't win any prizes for flexibility. Anyway, the price is right if somebody wants it. I'm also selling a couple fins, one for just 5 bucks, and a nice 4.25 msq sail.


JSW225 said...

The tolerance for the fall ends at about 50-55 degrees water temp.

Due to cabin fever, the tolerance for the spring starts at about 42-45 degrees water temp.

The 6/5/4 (diving) wetsuit suits me good in the spring. But after a summer of warm weather I don't have the will to wear it deep into the fall.

Johnny Douglass said...

Do you remember the white Helly Hanson dry suit that I had? It was pretty nice except sometimes the neck would leak a cold trickle of water down my back even though if it had been any tighter it would have put a choker hold on me. Hope that doesn't happen to you. I bet you're starting to miss Florida weather now. Oh, eventually the collar seal and the cuffs deteriorated.

Boris T said...

Nice find with the suit, good luck in 40degree weather. I don't even know how cold that is as I only understand metric, but I am gunna say it's cold if you need a dry suit.

Morley said...

Changed my vote a couple of times; after today's session, put it down as 0 degrees. SHoveled snow for over an hour to get out of the driveway, slithered to beach, no snow at beach and a balmy 2 degrees. Mostly too warm in a few layers of fleece and a drysuit. Dakine cold water mitts worked well - only got forearm cramp when I had to pump to a plane in the lulls, and got cold fingertips once and had to go in to warm up; but none of the excruciating pain on warmup. Figure I'm good to a degree or two below zero.

James Douglass said...

JSW- I definitely understand that "spring desperation" you're talking about.

Dad- Yeah, I definitely remember that suit. As I recall you were using it when you tried to windsurf in the big ocean waves at La Push. I think I got a little water down the neck of my suit when I wore it yesterday, but not too much. The leg and arm seals worked well but some of the seams or the zipper might bleed a little water. I couldn't feel any coming in, but I had some damp patches on my sweatsuit at the end of the session that I don't think were just sweat. Stayed very warm, though!

Boris- I think the new suit will keep me warm down to 4C.

Morley- Wow, that's cool! Doesn't your face get cold, though? Where do you sail that it's snowy already?

Morley said...

Only 1 degree today, but had to sail a 7.0 as the wind was lighter. Face wasn't cold since it wasn't wet as I never fell all the way in. It was also sunny which made a huge difference. But yesterday the cheeks were chilly after a blown jibe in 20+ knot gusts if I was working upwind. I found dropping my face behind my forearm warmed it enough to be tolerable and most of the time it just wasn't a problem.

Morley said...

Oh, yeah, where; Victoria, BC; Haro Strait looking at San Juan Is in Washinton state.

James Douglass said...

Hey Morley,

Wow, that's unusually cold weather for this time of year in the Northwest! I only remember one year growing up in Olympia, WA that we had big freeze / snow in November. I'll bet it's pretty up there.


Morley said...

Blizzard conditions today - 10 cm snow, but nearly 60 knot gusts to blow it around, -5 degrees and dropping. Some of us still managed to sail (but not me, I'm not that crazy)
Have a look at my friends log:

Unknown said...

Interesting poll!

I´m a cold weather windsurfer in Iceland. I got out yesterday air temp was 0c, water around 3c and surf over head high which means lots of swimming for me :)

I use 6/5/4 with hood and dakine cold weather mittens and that´s very warm. Some friends have gone the drysuit route but i´m somewhat sceptical about wearing a drysuit in such cold weather because of potential leaking.

Here is some surfing in water around freezing and air temp below zero.

James Douglass said...

Morley and Rafn- Wow, you Canadians and Icelanders are hard core. It's -4 C here in Massachusetts now and I just can't imagine exposing any wet skin to the wind.