Be Prepared for Cold Water Kayaking


New Years Day 2012 on Peconic Bay

We’ve had a very mild winter, Daylight Savings Time has begun, Spring is almost here, and the days have been unusually warm.  Sure makes one anxious to get on the water.  Unfortunately the water is still dangerously cold and will stay that way for a good while.  If you decide to head out you must be prepared for immersion.  That means being dressed properly and you should have had some training and experience in the cold water environment. And don’t paddle alone. Cold water shock and hypothermia are deadly.

Pre-paddle discussion of hypothermia and cold shock

Back in December NACK conducted a special Cold Water Peer Practice at Heckscher State Park.  Air temps were mild but the water temperature was just below 50 degrees.  Not extremely cold but good for getting some experience.  The best way to test your gear and experience cold water immersion is ….cold water immersion.  So after some instruction and discussion about the cold water environment paddlers took to the water…….without their kayaks.

In the water....without a kayak

Is my dry suit really dry?  Does my wetsuit offer sufficient protection? How about my layering and gloves? Should I wear a hood?  How long am I good for in the water?  All these questions got answered the best way possible.  In the water.

Now it's time to kayak

The park offers the ideal conditions for a session like this.  There’s a wide expanse of shallow, sandy bottom at the launch site so paddlers can easily wade in and out of the water.  They’re always close to shelter, their vehicles, warm clothing and hot liquids.

After 15 minutes in the water they took to their kayaks and paired up for some wet-exit, capsize recovery, rescue and rolling practice.  This was followed by a quick paddle along the shores of Great South Bay.

Paddling on Great South Bay

When back at the launch site members gathered to discuss their experiences while enjoying tea, coffee and pastries.

See more Cold Water Peer Practice photos.

Instead of repeating some information on the subject, here are a couple of links to solid information on cold water paddling.  But remember, you must actually test your equipment, and yourself, before you encounter a dangerous situation.  Reading a book, watching a video or listening to someone talk about the dangers of cold water alone just doesn’t count.

Off-Season Boating, Cold Shock and Hypothermia

For information on Cold Shock and Swimming Failure:

Sea Kayaker Magazine Article

Categories : Paddling Gear, Training


  1. […] on the water. Unfortunately the water is still dangerously cold … … The rest is here: Be Prepared for Cold Water Kayaking :: North Atlantic Canoe & Kayak ← Kayak/canoe Fishing Tips – Bass Fishing […]



An ACA Paddle America Club

A NYS Not-For-Profit Corporation

Serving Long Island and Northeastern USA "Get the NACK for paddling"