Folding Kayaks Forum

Drysuit Experiences
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Author:  Leo Hazlerigg [ Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Drysuit Experiences

yet another good reason to wear a PFD - like one is needed. I suppose worth a thought if you wear an inflating life jacket as opposed to PFD with permanent buoyancy, as other surface dry suit users often do.

Author:  george [ Fri Dec 21, 2018 3:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Drysuit Experiences

I am a SCUBA diver and have extensive experience with diving dry suits. I have spent a lot of time in cold water and have tried all sorts of suits. I have on one occasion experienced diving in a suit with a leaky seal. I have experienced a light dose of hypothermia from swimming a short distance in cold water without an exposure suit on a hot summer day.

I recall from my diving courses that water has something like 24 times the impact of cold air. In other words, one degree of water has the effect of 24 degrees of air.

I define cold water as temperature under 55 degrees.

Cold water is serious business. I don't think you can count on functioning more than 15 minutes if you are immersed in cold water without an effective exposure suit. Can you count on getting yourself back in the boat and the boat pumped out in that amount of time? If you are paddling close to shore, are you close enough that you can actually get out of the water and out of your wet clothes and into something dry in fifteen minutes?

Hypothermia is sneaky. It can be on you before you realize it. Your mind begins to go, you don't think straight and you are fumbling and uncoordinated. You quickly lose the ability to help yourself. If someone is not there for you to get you warmed up, it is all down hill from there.

A good dry suit with full latex seals and dry socks is the only way to go. With a good dry suit and proper undergarments you can safely spend hours immersed in cold water.

Latex neck seals when they are trimmed so they fit properly are not all that uncomfortable once you get used to them.

Finally someone mentioned the danger of inversion. I don't think that is a serious issue for surface swimming. The additional air will just make you that much more buoyant. Immersion is a serious issue for divers because air at depth is greatly compressed. If you start up inverted, the air in your suit expands making you even more buoyant. You can end up surfacing like a breaching whale. The problem is you have accumulated a dose of nitrogen in your tissues from diving at depth. When you go up your body releases that extra nitrogen. Go up too fast and bubbles form in your body causing decompression sickness. This is not a problem for a surface swim because you have not been at depth and you have no nitrogen load.

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