Hackensack River Canoe & Kayak Club

paddling for over a third of a century

HRCKC's Paddlin' Popsicles
"Cold Water Boot Camp"
by Martin Wellhoefer

On Sunday, the 21st of November, 2010, the HRCKC had it's very first on (in)-the-water cold water boot camp seminar for those members that were interested in learning about the potential dangers of paddling on cold water and the techniques and equipment needed to minimize those dangers or discomforts. This event was the next step up from our annual classroom seminar that we usually give at one of our meeting. On this bright and sunny day 16 intrepid HRCKC members braved the ever-worsening road down to Green Turtle Pond in West Milford hopefully to learn something about the effects of cold water immersion, to see first hand some of the preventative measures available and for some - to actually try out their immersion gear in the water. We learned that actual hypothermia is secondary to more immediate effects such as cardiac arrest, the gasping reflex and panic, extremities quickly becoming useless and resulting drowning. The 1-10-1 Rule was explained, and how the wearing of a life vest can dramatically improve one's chances of survival.

Next we went over the different types of gear that is available for safe cold water paddling such as wetsuits of all styles and various models of drysuits and insulation that is worn under it. Also demonstrated were the methods of putting on and taking off a drysuit (which can be quite hilarious to watch and bald guys actually have an advantage here), explaining what a "relief zipper" is and for us menfolk - making sure you "stow yer cargo" before zipping it up. Laurie C. was kind enough to demonstrate a woman's model of a drysuit. The very important "burping" of the drysuit was explained and demonstrated in the water. After the shore presentation some of us with drysuits went in and floated around in the 49 degree water.

I would like to hardily thank Elliot Koppel and Laurie Cochran for their contribution of knowledge and equipment that made this seminar a success. As soon as the water gets a bit colder we will schedule our "Swim With Your Drysuit Days".

Thanks to the members who attended ..... Bela D., Laurie C., Al G., Debbie C., Tom C., Chris D., Elliott K., Anita G., Bob K., Lee M., John S., Steven V., Ted C., Mary D., John