Today NESeacoast paddlers organized a dry suit demo day at a retailer up in Kennebunkport ME.
The day started out with discussions of cold water clothing, drysuit care and feeding, and differences between the models. Various people had their own annecdotes for why drysuits are good. You can paddle all year round. You can enjoy a nice paddle on a snowy day, etc. Meanwhile, I’m just thinking who the heck has time to paddle in the winter when it is ski season? And paddling when there is snow on the ground? Terrible misuse of snow!
Then we all got to try out a drysuit and take it paddling on the water. The outfitter is also a dealer of Valley Sea Kayaks, so Tyson and I managed to demo a low volume Nordkap and an Anas Acuta. The latter is a fiberglass rendition of a traditional greenland hull, but with all the modern amenities inside and on top. The Nordkap is a fairly standard British kayak.
We knew a couple of the people there, and a few more we were able to match up with their posts on the NSPN forum. But it was funny watching people’s reaction to us. Apparently we have quite the reputation as the crazies in the tandem kayak. And we also got written up in the October Atlantic Coastal Kayaker from our trip where we learned greenland rolling.
I had a bunch of fun paddling the Nordkap on the way out. It wasn’t fat like I had feared. And it went along quite easily. I drifted to the front of the group without even thinking about it. I got to lend my greenland paddle to Blaine, one of the guys who had read about us. I did a few rolls, and even went swimming in the drysuit. Other than an icecream headache, I was fine. Suzanne also gave me some paddling tips since I seem to have a problem with rocking the boat back and forth.
Then on the way back, I swapped with Tyson and tried the Anas Acuta which he really liked. It definitely didn’t go as fast. I was now having to work to keep up with the group. It rolled easily. And it turned whenever you even raised half an eyebrow. Unfortunately I had it for the leg of the trip when we were doing less playing and more just hustling back, so the turning thing was a little annoying. However, I did notice that when I sat up and paddled with good form it went just fine.
We got back, stripped off the drysuits, and were wearing dry clothes! I really was a convert to this dry suit thing: paddle in cold water without getting cold, not have to wear lots of bulky stiff layers of clothing (I had to radically cinch up my PFD), and get back and be dry and not coated with icky salt. The only thing that cold be better is if it sliced and diced! So I looked at my wallet and looked at Tyson and marched up to the counter.
Suzanne, the rep, was convinced that Tyson and I were serious enough paddlers that there was no question whether or not we should be looking at the high end suits. (Something about our reputation preceding us?) Then I had crucial decisions like hood/no hood, front or rear zip, and radish or mango. I ended up getting the hood because it came with the wrists I liked. And I got the rear relief zipper because it seemed simpler than the front zipper.