Winter Boating Safety Tips
Two groups of NRS boaters are taking early 2010 trips in the Grand Canyon, in Arizona, one in January and the other in February. Here is what they are planning to take in the way of protective apparel and gear to have safe, comfortable winter trips in this 225-mile river corridor, known for its cold water and big, pushy rapids.
These boaters are very experienced kayakers and rafters. Most of them have been river guides and all have lots of multiday boating experience. They know the dangers of hypothermia and have extensive knowledge of how to dress to avoid those dangers.
|Brian Chaffin used to work at NRS as a Wholesale Rep. He’s still in Moscow doing graduate work at the University of Idaho. His put-in date is January 3rd. He and Blake Longworth, Government and Camps Account Rep, have known each other since grade school. They’re taking three of their high school buddies with them.
Each of them will have a drysuit. They’ll bring Aquaseal Urethane Adhesive and Tear Aid Type A for field repairs and some spare drysuits, in case of catastrophic failure. |
Brian getting ready to jump, at Elves Chasm, Grand Canyon. © Jenni Chaffin
Each person will have light, mid and heavyweight base layers, plus spares, in either synthetic or Merino wool fabrics. They’ll be wearing a variety of neoprene gloves, watershoes and socks.
And, they’ll have easily accessible dry bags of spare suits, layering pieces, footwear, gloves, etc that people can change into if they go for a cold, wet swim. Everyone will have a good down jacket; probably used mostly for camp wear.
Zach Miller is a Retail Customer Service Rep. His permit is for a February 2nd launch. Also going are Wholesale Reps Kurtis Perkins and Tyler Harris, along with three of Tyler’s friends.
Zach on a nice warm Main Salmon trip. © Josh Wright
|All of them will also be sporting drysuits. Zach and Kurtis will be kayaking and for sure will be using the Mission eVent Drysuit and WaveLite Union Suits. The group is also bringing apparel repair materials and extra suits, insulating layers, gloves and footwear. Zach also mentions an easily accessible extra sleeping bag in case someone needs a real warm-up after a swim. Thermos’ of hot beverages and accessible backpacking-style stoves for brewing up soups, tea, etc will also be available. |
|Both groups will have a couple of River Wings in case of precipitation and a Firepan for warm-up fires and Dutch oven cooking. The inner foam in Paco Pads provides excellent insulation from cold ground. Each group will have a satellite phone, signaling devices and extensive first aid kits.|
So, this is what these folks are taking. It’s certainly not the only way to outfit for such a trip, but it is a good plan.
Tyler whooping it up on Idaho’s Lochsa River. © Blake Longworth
Kurtis gooning for the camera at Cannon Beach, Oregon. © David Blue |Brian has some good advice for those of you that don’t have drysuits:|
“Drysuits are not a necessity, but they are nice. Not everyone has a spouse that works at NRS. (His lovely wife, Jenni, works here, in Purchasing) The key is to have a complete waterproof, wind-breaking outer layer. It can be either a drytop and dry pant combo, or really good splashwear, or a dry top and Kokatat Bibs. If what you are wearing is not a complete dry-setup, then one of your layers MUST consist of wetsuit neoprene. If it’s a dry combo, you still might consider light neoprene, like HydroSkin, but you have more room to layer with wools and synthetics. If there is a swim, drysuit or not, a full clothing change must be considered immediately. So, if you don’t have the option of bringing extra drysuits, bring extra wetsuits, but always have extra protective layers on a full-on winter trip. It’s boating, you’ve got room. Rent the gear if necessary.”
Good advice, Brian.
And there’s other good advice in the Safety Source Archive. There are articles like Too Much Heat or Not Enough of It, that shows how to make a “hypothermia wrap” with gear you’ll have along on a boating trip. Fueling the Fires Within gives the dos and don’ts of staying hydrated and proper food intake to maximize your body’s efficiency in cold conditions. These and other articles can help you get geared up for safe fall, winter and spring boating. And you don’t have to be going on multiday, expedition-style trips to use this advice. You can get into just as much trouble on a day trip as you can on a remote wilderness one.
|Thanks to Brian, Zach, Blake, Kurtis and Tyler for sharing some of your tips on safe winter boating! Best of success on your Grand Canyon adventures. And how about some post-trip stories? (Editor’s Note: That last part was me trying to guilt them into writing some Trip Tales!)|
And, you can always contact us here at NRS, by phone at 877.677.4327 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Friendly, knowledgeable folks can help answer your outfitting and boating questions.
Blake, with a very uncharacteristic serious expression, at Deer Creek Falls, Grand Canyon. © Brian Chaffin
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Boat Often, Boat Safe and Live to Boat Another Day!