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!