Fall, Winter & Spring Kayaking with Kayak Adventure of Norwalk, Connecticut

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Cold Water Kayaking

By appointment any time, 3 hours, $50. Cold water gear rental $30 (wetsuit, jacket, booties, hood, gloves), kayak rental $50.
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 35-59 degrees.

At Kayak Adventure, we've led groups of paddlers through cold water conditions since our founding in 1999. Eighteen 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. We'll discuss individual 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. 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. 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. You'll get some tips on how to launch and land to keep you and your gear dry. 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, including VHF radio communications. 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 deep water.
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, practiced paddlers. Using a sit-on-top kayak has the advantage of avoiding head-first capsizes for most paddlers.

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 Instructor."

Please contact 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.