Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Icing on the Cake...and the Deck

During our paddle this Sunday, the 17 F temperatures caused icing on our boats, equipment, paddles and skirts. This pic shows one of my bungees (it is in a clear sleeve...but I digress) and one of my clips coated in ice. When I went to remove the skirt I found it had iced up as well, and all that brought up an old issue for me.

I like to paddle alone, but I rarely do so in conditions such as these. The main reason is safety, and I don't just mean hypothermia. In the unlikely event I tip over and, even more unlikely, have to wet exit, what are the additional risks I would face? This all presumes I haven't hit my head on or gotten trapped under ice.

Being plunged, face first, into frigid waters is unpleasant enough, not to mention the dangerous reflexes that can occur with such a mishap. I can imagine a scenario in which the loop on the skirt is iced do its deck and hard to find with neoprene mittens on. In such an event, it might be impossible to grab enough of the iced-stiff deck to get the skirt off. That's for starters.

Once out of the boat, I might find my paddle float frozen, especially if a valve had been left open. Finally, I would face the challenge of grabbing onto frozen deck lines and getting onto an ice-caked deck. All this presumes, of course, that my layers and dry suit has kept me warm and nimble enough to carry all this off. That's why (I can't believe I am saying this) one needs to practice wet exits and entries in such conditions...and I year. Hey, the guy said it would be in the 50's F next week.

Paddle safe...

1 comment:

Ron said...

I've had those thoughts. Some memories from 30 years ago when a freind and I broached a canoe between two trees on the Crow River. The feeling of the near freezing water from the spring runoff as it went through my clothes, is as vivid today, as it was way back then. A farmer saw us floating down the river and plucked us out, brought us to his home and warmed us up next to the wood stove, gave us dry clothes, and brought us back to our car. We were pretty lucky he saw us.