The last time I was immersed into the water I felt wetness in the crotch of my Kokatat GMER drysuit. Okay, you’re probably thinking what I thought… “Gee, did I wet myself?” I am getting older but haven’t lost control of my bladder facilities just yet. I just figured the zipper wasn’t completely closed and some water got in…
On Monday past I made plans to join Tony on Topsail Pond the next day for his regular Tuesday pond practice. I decided to check out my drysuit to be sure. I filled up the laundry tub, made sure the zipper was closed, put my hand inside the suit and held the crotch area down in the water. In very little time I could see drops of water on the inside of the suit and before long my hand was actually wet. With some further investigation I found delamination on both sides, just below the relief zipper!
The realization of an actual leak in my drysuit was a little nightmarish…. This time of year I generally have my drysuit on twice a week; once during our Thursday evening practice and then once when we paddle on the weekend... and sometimes I’ll get in a third time on the water during the week. But on Tuesday I was starting my vacation and hoped to get on the water 3 or 4 times a week, weather permitting, for the next couple weeks.
Okay. Now what? I’ll have to invoke plan ‘Last Resort.’ I will have to use my wetsuit until the drysuit gets fixed. On Tuesday morning I brought the suit down to The Outfitters for Jon for have a look at. This was a warranty issue and he would send the suit back to Kokatat for me. This is service, and the reason I bought my suit from the outfitters in the first place.
“How long will I be without the suit?” I asked Jon.
“Four to six weeks” was the reply. The nightmare lengthened. First day of vacation and I was without my drysuit. At home I began contemplating just buying another drysuit and told my wife what I was thinking. Her response was simply “well you paddle enough that you should probably have two drysuits”… this is from a woman who has not paddled, and will not ever paddle!
I dug out my wetsuit and off I went to Topsail Pond to meet Tony. It was an overcast day, the thermometer on the car read 22 C, and the pond water had a refreshing coolness to it. I did a roll, and felt the coolness of the water trickling down my back and chest. I had not used my wetsuit in 28 months since buying my drysuit. I did maybe a half-dozen rolls, became thoroughly wet in the couple hours we were there, and did not like it at all. I peeled the wetsuit off after our practice and went home.
|Tony at Topsail Pond|
|Tony cranking off one of many rolls on Topsail Pond|
I began thinking. Yes, I can get along the next four to six weeks with my wetsuit…. Perhaps I have become spoiled with the comfort my drysuit provides, but you know, wet is wet, even if the water is not cold. During our July 14th practice at St. Philips the air temperature was 7 C, it was raining and there was a bit of wind. I was wearing my HH heavy top and bottom polypro under my drysuit, and my neoprene hood and gloves. My hands became quite chilled; I can imagine being out there in just a wetsuit and a jacket on that evening!
I do not wait for fair weather days to get on the water. We practice in whatever the weather happens to be Thursdays and we paddle in whatever the weather happens to be on weekends, unless the winds are too high that the risk is too much, but rain and cold does not keep us on shore… When we paddle we will do it waves and play in some surf, we will seek it if we can find it even on calm days. There is always the potential of capsizing, having to roll or maybe swim; we have had 3 swimmers in the last six and a half months!
These thoughts and more went through my mind during Tuesday evening. After supper I e-mailed Jon at The Outfitters to see if they had a suit there in my size, same colour and make as mine. I did not hear from him. On Wednesday afternoon I called. The fellow I talked to said they did not have one in the same colour and size. I went down on Thursday morning to poke around to see what else they had there… maybe a different brand or model?
Jon was there and I asked him if they had one the same as the one I had brought down the day before. He poked around and produced the same Kokatat GMER drysuit as mine, but in a red, not mango like my other one, my preferred colour. I thought to myself “well, it might not match my mango Kokatat hat” but I have never been known for my good fashion sense. Done deal! Maybe because I am a repeat customer, maybe he felt my plight, probably both reasons, but he took a few dollars off the cost for me…
The last couple days have been troubling for me without my drysuit. But now I am a happy paddler once again. Currently the weather forcast for the evening is calling for SW 30 km winds gusting to 60 km, but the showers are supposed to end this afternoon. With a wetsuit I would still go but would not get out of my kayak, maybe only do a few rolls, if any. I would just paddle around and watch others playing in the water. But with the new drysuit I am now looking forward to tonight’s Thursday practice....
I will let you know in a few weeks what happens with the suit that has gone back to Kokatat…