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Autumn Sailing....Cold  Bottom

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  • Here in Illinois, we get our best and most consistent wind in October and November, unfortunately its also becoming cold. I went out on the Playcat today, looking at flat water in the harbor, hoping for the wind to build. 15 minutes into the sail, I hit an area of the lake that opens from north to south and close to 1 mile long. The wind started to build to a steady 20mph and there were waves and white caps everywhere. I, not being prepared gear wise for this, decided to ride it out in a rashguard and athletic shorts because the ride was amazing. Cold, cold, cold Air temp:48 Degrees Water Temp: 51 Degrees
    Turns out a small storm moving from the north came in, bringing cold air and strong winds...I was freezing. Anyways, the best part of the story was that I had the fastest beam reach yet on the Playcat, and on starboard tack my gps hit 20.2 mph for a sustained 15 seconds. I found this incredible, it was by far the coldest, fastest, and wettest ride of my sailing life...
    Things I learned (you gotta learn something from being a jackass) always wear a wetsuit, no matter how much or how little wind there seems to be. Also, the Playcat is one respectable catamaran in the performance department of plastic boats, didn't know how muchso until today.

    What are fastest speeds achieved by other sailors here (just curious)
  • You were fortunate. That we need wetsuits up north this time of year cannot be emphasized enough.

    We had a race in June where the fleet was hit by a sudden and very violent storm. I hove to and watched my jib get shredded. We managed a tow in to the lee of the bluffs by our committee boat. My son and I were in full wetsuits and they kept out wits about us as we scrambled to keep our big Nacra upright. In all we lost four boats, one of which washed up in MI Very scary and our beach staff were heroic. We had one kid go to the hospital with Hypothermia(he and his dad had no wetsuits on). Even with wetsuits we had a couple of sailors who were in the water a long time and were borderline. Needless we have new club rules.

    Yesterday I was winterizing my boat and watched two very old guys venture out fully clothed without wetsuits. When I said something to the guards, they shrugged. Fortunately there was hardly any wind, but I thought it quite stupid. Ditto the mom watching her kids riding a jet ski yesterday without wetsuits.

    edited by: lawrencer2003, Oct 19, 2008 - 09:15 AM
  • I get cold with only a wet suit, due to splash and then drying. I wear paddling clothes over the wetsuit, unless the water & air are quite warm . Got a paddling jacket from NRS, and pants too. MC Sporting Goods carries paddling jackets (really a waterproof pullover shirt) for $50. This stuff is all from kayaking clothing sources. Most have velcro closures at the openings. Much like a dry suit for 1/4th the cost. Works great!
    Going out today, as a matter of fact. Blowing 20 right now. Got crew to help hold it down. Fun in the sun... and will stay warm, too.
  • What do you wear on your feet?
  • Being the idiot I am and wanting to sail very badly, I didn't wear anything on my feet (did not come fully prepared), and this was the ultimate reason I had to head to the harbor early.

    I left my foulie gear at my apartment 100 miles away from the lake so I didn't have many options (not sailing is definitely not an option) icon_biggrin
  • I bought some hiking boots from Murrays. Stiff sole, 7mm neoprene, side zipper. Durable and warm. $40. Also have lighter water shoes for when it's warmer. Full gloves and hat keeps the splash off. Was out today. 53 degrees and sunny. Full wet suit and kayak clothes kept me toasty. Wind was a bit much... 24 with gusts near 30. No jib out and still hit 14. Waaaay over powered. Needed to reef the main, but not set up for that. Got wet, but not cold at all. icon_eek
  • Always always always wear protective foot gear. Especially in sea waters. Way too many things to seriously cut feet.

    Cold is my enemy, even in the mild winters of Tampa Bay. Nothing is fun if you are cold and wet. Blow overs can turn into survival situations easily. If one is serious about winter sailing, an investment in a good 3 mm wet suit with quality boots is nothing. Besides... unless you have a beer gut... you look cool with one on! PDF's are great insulators too.

  • Can anyone suggest a good wetuit brand to get? I figure that I have 3 weeks left to sail before winter rolls in, and then I can start sailing by Easter next year.
    Also, what thickness of wetsuit is suitable for possible full submersion in 45 degree water?
    Any help is appreciated as I really dig the late fall sailing now. icon_biggrin
  • I am in Michigan and Labor Day weekend always meant the end of the recreational boating season. I realized (like others) that the Sept and Oct winds were great and I was missing out. Last fall, late September I sought out my fearless buddy (and big wind ballast at 225 pounds) and headed out in my full wet suit.

    Two lessons learned:

    The spray from the guy on the wire pounded me and most went down the neck of the wet suit. I added an NRS paddling spray top with an adjustable neoprene neck to seal the top. I picked up my full wet suit off e-bay for under $40. I use it so little, I could not justify dropping $200-$300 for a new one. I bought a 3mm and bought a little large so I had enough room to move in it. The 3mm suit is enough to keep me warm while on the boat and the only time that we have dumped the boat, we were back up in a matter of minutes.

    Second, I wore my usual sailing gloves and my hands froze! I picked up a pair of neoprene gloves from the local cycle/PWC shop who was closing them out at the end of the season ($10).

    I ended up pulling my boat in mid September due to too much time on the soccer fields this fall. Didn't miss it until I was ref'ing at one of our waterfront fields and had mutilple sails as the backdrop for the afternoon.

    J. Mueller
    Prindle 16

  • I have lots of foulie gear from my keelboat days, but I am afraid if I capsize(or pitchpole icon_frown ) the foulie gear will do no good because it isn't water tight. I just bought wetsuit boots off ebay because my feet were f'in cold, but I may be able to get by without dropping 200 bucks for a custome wetsuit. I guess I will see Friday afternoon. icon_biggrin

    I bet the water up in Michigan is getting real cold, got some family up at Crystal Lake who said they were gonna get their iceboats ready to rock.
  • i wont pretend to know much about cold weather sailing but i have a friend here swear by waders apposed to wet suits.

    here in fl it doesn't get that bad... and i plan to try waders this year.. the point being to stay dry.. but in-case of a capsize.... it could get bad...

    that being said.. i think if you will be in 45* water... you might look into dry suits..
  • Andrew,

    You may be right. Drysuits may be the only option for the really cold water, but geez, I would have to buy a custom drysuit (runs around 300$) because of my height. That could buy me another boat, or better yet, money towards some beautiful kevlar/mylar sails icon_biggrin .
    I might brave the water Friday with foulie gear and see how it goes, just hope I don't flip.
  • yellowhulls17I would have to buy a custom drysuit (runs around 300$) because of my height.

    I'm 6' 7" and 220-250 lbs

    Who makes custom drysuits? I'd like to have some of the good sailing gear like spray tops, rash gaurds, bibs etc., but the stuff is expensive and doesn't come in manly sizes. icon_biggrin

    Damon Linkous
    1992 Hobie 18
    Memphis, TN

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  • Ughhh,
    I really mispriced costs for custom drysuits (basically all are custom because of foot sizes), looks like anywhere from 635$ up to 3000$. No thanks then, I would rather be cold than dead broke. icon_biggrin

    Damon, there are outfitters that made kayak drysuits, or to step it up in price you can go with a diving drysuit. One company is KME Drysuits, which also makes them for the US military. Another company is Protec based out of the UK.
    I believe all drysuits are at least partially custom, because of neck and foot size that must be known to have a properly fitting drysuit.

    I'll just keep dreamin' about those kevlar/mylar sails icon_wink
  • I know dive shops carry them and often have end of season sales. they do have standard ones... without booties...

    PS.. 45* is not a good way to die.... think 2x before you make a bad choice. I would consider not sailing hard... nor far if you try to sail in that type of water... and wear your waterwings!!!!
  • I never forget to wear my waterwings, besides, they match my boat icon_biggrin
    I am never more than 1/4 mile from shore where I sail, and foulie gear would protect me well enough for the few hours I am out there...unless of course I capsize, then its a different story, but I wouldn't push the boat nearly as hard either.
    About the dry suits, here in the middle of cornfields, we don't have dive shops icon_wink so the only way I'd know of dry suit sales is through the internet.
  • Drysuits that are designed for scuba diving are a lot different than ones designed for surface sports like kayaking and catamaran sailing. Diving suits have to have a completely non-porous (non breathable) surface and valves to adjust the amount of air inside the suit for buoyancy compensation.

    Looking at the Kokatat drysuits, it looks like the Gortex line starts around $700, and they have a cheaper breathable line starting around $400.

    Damon Linkous
    1992 Hobie 18
    Memphis, TN

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  • I got my stuff at www.nrsweb.com... spray top, black river pants, water socks, gloves... but my boots came from Murrays. I am only 6'2" and should have got size L... the XL stuff is too big, even over my full wet suit. Works anyway. The neoprene beanie from NRS is really warm, too. Less than $300 for all of it.
  • Drysuit seems like the Cadillac here but like others, cannot justify spending that much money. A spray top with sealable cuffs and neck will keep the water out and the core warm. I am sailing inland lakes where I am never far from shore and many homes around should I need rescue. I would not consider it in Lake Michigan this late in the season - 30 degrees in West Michigan this morning!

    With follow up to Andrew's comment on waders.....I can't imagine. It's a well known fact that if you topple over while wearing waders (plenty of river and surf fishing stories gone bad), you might as well be strapped to an anchor. Once they fill with water, the suction created around your boots prevents you from getting your feet out. You would exhaust yourself trying to stay afloat and keep the body temp up.

    What are the cold weather sailors wearing for gloves?
  • Just had to add my 2 cents....I am new to this site, but have sailed for years and surfed my entire life on Long Island...cold winters too.
    I have experimented with dry suits during my "windsurfing days" and unless you are very careful and have deep pockets, my clear choice would be to get a "taped seam" full wetsuit over 3mm thick....probably 5mm. A taped suit will not let water in, unlike a stitched seam suit. Add neoprene booties, gloves, and a "separate" hood/cap as well and you're as warm as toast.
    I've torn my dry suit and water gushed in...on a windsurfer no less! On a cat, with the myriad of hardware, the likelihood is even greater. Once its torn, the insulating characteristic is OVER....and if you flip, even a 1/4 mile out...you're risking hypothermia. I say the warmer the better!
    To me, a wetsuit seems better suited to WET, Cat sailing. On a wet monohull, I might opt for dry suit.
    As for cost....they all seem to be approx the same. As for comfort and mobility....they have improved immeasurably over the years. Fit does vary with ea manufacturer.
    Check surf shops and Ebay for the best deal.
    And....if it's really blowing...and cold.........think twice.
    Just my 2 cents........

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