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Calendar of Lessons & Guided
Wear & Bring
Cold Water Kayaking
By appointment any time, 4 hours, $80. Cold
water gear rental $40 (wetsuit, jacket, booties, hood, gloves),
kayak rental $40.
Extend your paddling season through spring & fall. Prep for
a kayaking trip to cold water locales - Alaska, Antarctica,
British Columbia, Greenland, Maine.
"Cold water" is sea water below 60 degrees. Long Island
Sound waters are cold to frigid from the end of October
through the end of May. During this time, we find
crystal clear water, undisturbed by power boat noise and wakes,
and seasonal wildlife changes that delight, such as harbor
seals and winter ducks. If you're a dedicated kayaker or kayak
fisherman; planning a kayak trip to Alaska or Maine; or just
want to do something few others do, this class will help you
learn what type of boat, gear, and skills you need to kayak
comfortably and in a prudent way where water temperatures are
At Kayak Adventure, we've led groups of paddlers through cold
water conditions since our founding in 1999. Seventeen winters
of kayaking on Long Island Sound means experience with a wide
range of conditions, and a broad sample of paddlers. One of our
key findings is that individual response to cold water varies
widely. You've heard about "polar bear" swimmers, but don't
forget, they walk into cold water from shore. A sudden capsize
into deep, cold water bears no resemblance.
In this small-group class, we'll begin indoors. You'll complete
and discuss a personalized risk assessment which includes your
physical & medical condition, life experience on or in the
water, the design characteristics of your kayak, and the
proficiency of your rescue skills. At this point, you decide
whether to continue to the next step: putting on appropriate
cold water gear for a two hour kayak trip. (If you opt not to
continue, your fee will be only $20.) If you don't own cold
water gear, our rental gear includes 3mm neoprene Farmer John
wetsuits, dry pants & jackets, neoprene hoods, fleece neck
warmers, thick neoprene gloves or mittens, Gore-tex Pogies, and
5 to 6.5 mm neoprene booties or waterproof mukluks. We ask you
to bring synthetic base layer shirts, undies and socks.
You'll use either your own
kayak, or rent one of ours. We head for the shore as soon as
we're outfitted. After unloading gear & boats, we'll gather
round to conduct the Kayak Adventure pre-launch check to be
sure everyone is snugly outfitted. On the water, we'll teach
how to paddle in close formation to be able to see, hear and
quickly help another group member, if needed. We'll demonstrate
the fastest cold-water assisted rescue methods, including
eskimo bow & side rescue, and t-rescue, and give you
practice (if you wish). Our objective is to get a paddler back
into an almost dry boat in under two minutes (not realistic
unless you practice). We'll end the session with demonstration
and optional practice of wet exit and re-entry close to shore.
If you're planning to kayak in cold water, wet exit practice is
strongly recommended. We do this with our instructor and a
trusted buddy standing on either side of your kayak in waist
Photo: Pre-launch check, November. L to R: Steve, Michele (KA
instructor), Ed, Steve and Claire.
Comment on kayak types: We consider recreational kayaks
inappropriate for cold water use, no matter how close to shore
you paddle. Sit-inside [sea] kayaks put most paddlers
head-first into the sea upon capsize, increasing risk for
aspirating water. They are best used by calm, healthy,
I feel our rigorous approach to personal risk assessment, to
careful outfitting, and adherence to pre-launch protocol are
take-aways that you could read about, but will learn much
better through doing. For testimonials, see "Meet Your Kayak
us to reserve a place in this class.
The Kandels launch with Kayak Adventure at Calf
Pasture beach on a frigid January day.
This photo of Ed Hansen, a Sound Kayaker club member from
Fairfield, was featured in the Westport Minuteman article, "Icy
Joys of Winter Kayaking".
Sound Kayakers from Rye, Westport, Fairfield and Norwalk
joined club leader Michele Sorensen on our fourth annual New
Year's Day paddle.