Friday, January 16, 2009

Welcome to Freezing Cold-Ville...

Hmmm... Well, I'm procrastinating this morning... It's full on 5.0 conditions out there, but a bit chilly, as the thermometers are registering 26 degrees Fahrenheit (-3C for all you non-American readers). I am planning on heading out in a bit, but first I've gotta let the coffee seep in and do it's trick, so that I'm thinking clearly. Otherwise, I might actually go... : )

So, here are my tools for dealing with frigid temps:

Billabong Solution Gold 6/5/4: It's a fully sealed in neoprene surf suit with a built in hood. No water gets into this thing, my hair is literally dry after a sesh. The neoprene construction means that it still insulates, even if I somehow manage to rip a hole in it or blow out the zipper or something.

Billabong 5 mil winter booties (Aaron, take note)

Dakine Cold Water Mittens: They're pre-curved, nice thick neoprene over the back of your hand, and a super thin palm so you can still feel the boom and there's no forearm fatigue. They aren't totally dry, but a pair of latex surgeon's gloves or dishwashing gloves underneath and you're good to go.

So, the only thing exposed is my face. On days like this, that means instant ice cream headache if you get dunked. One method to ward off the headache is to smear vaseline all over your face before you go out (hey, it's not a fashion contest, right?). That thin layer of, well, grease, keeps the frigid water from making contact with your skin, and deflects that frigid wind from crushing your temples (that's quite literally what the headache feels like).

Have a plan:

1) Bring a cooler full of the hottest water you can pull out of your tap. It works wonders if your fingers or toes go numb. I also recommend dipping your boots and mitts in it before putting them on, especially if you left them outside the night before...

2) Sail with a buddy. And actually sail with them, right next to them. They jibe, you jibe. Don't go wandering off on your own mission somewhere without him, because then what's the point of having a buddy? Last year Stuart was my bro, but he's mostly out of town this winter. Anyone feel like stepping up?

3) Wear all the normal protective gear: helmet, life jacket, etc...

4) Don't go whale watching! Keep it close to shore, and in a spot and conditions you are very familiar with!

5) Make sure someone knows where you are going and when you should be back.

And of course, make sure all of your windsurfing gear is spot on, in great condition. No one wants to swim in due to a universal joint failure, even on a summer day... So check your stuff, and replace what needs replacing! That includes downhaul, inhaul, and outhaul line, too... Why risk ruining a good session for $5 worth of line, right?

So is there anything else I missed? Leave a note in the comments if you can think of anything!

** Disclaimer: Cold weather windsurfing is dumb and unsafe. You should not do it. Following these guidelines does not necessarily mean that you will be safe windsurfing in cold weather. Do so at your own risk, which happens to be quite high.

Oh, and by the way, it's been wicked fun the last few days! With the exception of Tuesday, that is... But I've gotten in a few sweet 5.7 and 5.0 freestyle sessions, even though it's been a bit chilly (40s). Even caught a double sesh yesterday! Buxton Slick in the am westerly, and then it switched north and cranked in the afternoon, lit up 5.0! Loving it!! (sorry, no pics or anything, they've been solo missions)

No need to be scared that today's cold is shutting down the winter season, either... The ocean is still about 50 degrees, and the sound follows the air temps very closely, so it'll warm back up if we get a few days in the 50s or 60s... Which should happen on Sunday!


George Markopoulos said...

Learned something new with the vasalene to cover exposed skin. Gotta stock some of that in the van

Outdrsmn said...

Have fun out there. It is too cold here, currently 18. If you are looking for a sailing partner just head up to "longuyland". Rumor has it there are some diehards up in the land of the Puffins.

Bill said...

Yea, I am waiting for the yellow stars on WindGuru! Those blue stars tell me to keep billing hours at my day job!

Have fun!

Drew said...

#6 - drink a bunch of single malt scotch before going out. That way you´ll feel warm even if you aren´t and if you do freeze to death you at least freeze to death happy!
#7 - say ¨Screw it!!¨ drive to Norfolk and catch a flight to Maui or some other warm idyllic windsurfing location and leave your cold weather gear outside at home!

Good post Andy!!

Anonymous said...

-15F here in NH this morning (at my house). Berlin, NH recorded -39F early this morning. Pretty darn cold up here in the NorthEast today.

Nice work on the cold weather sailing Andy! I think I'll hang by the wood stove tonight with a couple beers instead of any outdoor activities.


PeconicPuffin said...

I would be the fool with the ice block booties. That was cold! I've been meaning to carry hot water for years, but haven't gotten round to it. I think the next session will be different, if it ever comes...this is not Global Warming week on the east coast!

Will said...

The water safety geek in me has an addendum to #5: Make sure the person who knows where you are going and when you should be back WILL call the Coast Guard if you don't get back. And, DO call them.

You don't want Ann saying, "well, Andy hasn't called, but I'm sure he's at the Froggy Dog, again."

Great post! Stay warm.

Geoff said...

Glacier Glovers also work well - thin neoprene gloves - do not cause forearm burn unless way overpowered can pick up at REI - I try to run the smallest size possible to avoid bunching in the palm. I have put 20+ days on my first pair.

Even if the water is a balmy 38 it still isn't as cold as the ski resorts.

When I'm finished in winter I just drive home suit on and walk straight to the shower - this only works when you have to drive a couple miles, not so well when you drive 60.

James Douglass said...

It's cold here in Florida, too. Only 65 today. Also, sailed 4.2 all day long! :P

Andy said...

lol! Great comments, guys : )

Ken K said...

Da Kine mits are Da Bomb!

I froze in and tore up so many glacier gloves until finally having a Gorge friend recommend the da Kine mits. I love 'em