On the Water And In The Woods

Sea kayaking, sailing, and lightweight backpacking in the-Chesapeake Bay, Mid-Atlantic region

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fall Paddling Gear Check

Well, I knew it was getting close to that time of year. The last two evening/night paddles I did this week found me paddling in my fuzzy rubber rapidstyle top due to the cooler air temps. Even though the water temps were pleasant, coming up from a roll found me feeling the fall nip in the night air due to evaporative cooling. The top I have has the fuzzzy rubber body, but "insulated" cloth arms (don't do much insulating). That's enough for fall paddling when I'm still in just my bathing suit. But those two nights were a warning that colder fall temps are ahead for me.

So tonight, with the wind and rain blowing around outside the house, I emptied out the mesh travel bag that carries my backup kayak gear in the truck when I paddle. I didn't take anything out of the bag for the season, but I did do a check up on the carried gear, and added a few things for the fall:


  1. Replace batteries and check functioning of Strobe light carried in the pfd pocket.
  2. Replace batteries and check functioning of the night lights. I like to use Tektite Mark III Marker Lights as my rear white deck light, fastening it to the boat with the suction cup, which is pricey but works. I carry another of these lights - the one LED version, as a spare white light in my deck bag or day hatch. Both of these have dummy cords to try and make sure I don't lose them overboard. I've started using a red/green bow light made for inflatable motor boats on the foredeck. Although the rule is to be able to "show a white light when approached by another vessel" for kayaks, I have decided to err toward too much visibility while still keeping within the nautical rules for boat lighting. I also carry a waterproof Princeton Tec headlamp, which I dummy cord to my pfd. I can head mount it, or let it lie on the spray skirt to use as needed. This headlamp also has a strobe function. Unfortunately, none of my stobing lights are the SOS type.
  3. Verified that the paddling jacket still fits and functions. I like the no frills versions, with neoprene cuffs on the arms, a very solid neoprene waist to seal with the spray skirt, and a fairly open neck that allows good venting. Since I wear the paddling jacket under the pfd, I've yet to find a use for a paddling jacket that has any kind of pocket. My paddling jacket is one of two items of clothing I like having in bright colors - the other is my drysuit. If the weather and water have me wearing either I want to be visible and FOUND!


  1. Pulled out the NRS Mystery top, checked it over and added it to the bag. I like this shirt as a paddling top for cold windy fall conditions. The outer neoprene type material solves the problem of wind chill that some other fall paddling tops suffer from. Unfortunately, sizing of these tops is truly weird. I take a large/extra large in my other tops, but take a XXL in this and could maybe use a larger one if they made it.
  2. Added the farmer john wetsuit. Not that the water temps are down there yet, but I'd rather have it at the launch site if I need it than not.
  3. Added the neoprene hood. Mine is an old BARE model, and will one day need replacement. When I do, it may be this one for fall paddling, and this one for serious winter rolling.
  4. Added the traditional style neoprene mitts I made. These are loose enough to get off the hands quickly during a rescue, but warm enough to cut wind chill. Generally, I am opposed to the use of mitten type neoprene gloves for cold water paddling, as I have yet to find any that allow me to safely complete a self rescue.
  5. Well, really didn't add this, but many of you will - neoprene booties. I use mine when paddling the Outer Island since my typical summer footwear won't fit.