With the beginning of frostbiting season upon us it is important to remember to stay safe and have fun while on the water. Frostbiting is an extreme winter sailing experience: high winds, cold water, hey - maybe even some snow is on the menu. These elements can all add up to great days on the water but caution must be taken because there are real dangers of getting frostbite and hypothermia.
For winter and early spring sailing a drysuit is a must. Any time water temperature is below 60 degrees, long exposure can be fatal. A drysuit is designed to prevent water from entering and touching your body, with tight gaskets around the wrists and neck as well as built in booties for the feet. This allows sailors to wear warmer, heat insulating clothes underneath without the risk of getting them wet. To maximize the longevity and effectiveness of drysuits it is essential that dinghy boots be worn over the built-in rubber booties.
So, now that you have your drysuit,
It is important to take care in storing your boat and gear for the winter. Derig the boat and coil the lines. Wash the hull and get all excess grime salt and sand out of and off the boat. Once the boat is clean let the boat air out for a few days, it is important that you make sure the boat is COMPLETELY dry. Standing water will freeze and could crack the hull.
If you have an indoor location for your boat to sit on its dolly or trailer, you are golden. If your boat is going to rough it outside for the winter there are a few things you can do to make sure that it is a little bit more comfortable. First of all, we need to make sure that there will be little to no snow build up on the boat. Shrink wrap would be the best, however most costly, solution. The next best idea is to cover your boat with its standard cover. Make sure the straps are tight and check regularly for snow build up. Smaller boats like Optis and Lasers, can be flipped over on
Frostbite is the medical condition in which localized damage is caused to skin and other tissues due to freezing. This happens to parts of the body furthest away from the heart. Frostbite is most commonly experienced on your face, hands and feet.
Signs and symptoms of frostbite include:
- Cold skin
- The "pins and needles" feeling, like when your hand falls asleep
- Red, white, bluish-white or grayish-yellow skin
- Hard or waxy-looking skin
- Clumsiness due to joint and muscle stiffness
Frostbite occurs in several stages:
- Frostnip. Frostnip the the mildest form of frostbite. Your skin pales or turns red and feels very cold. Continued exposure leads to prickling and numbness in the affected area. Frostnip doesn't permanently damage the skin.
Hypothermia is when your core body temperature is dangerously low. Hypothermia can cause your body to shut down, and cause a person to become disoriented. This is extremely dangerous while on the water.
Signs and symptoms of early onsets of hypothermia are:
- Faster breathing
- Trouble speaking
- Slight confusion
- Lack of coordination
- Increased heart rate
The signs of severe hyporthermia are:
- Shivering, although as hypothermia worsens, shivering stops
- Weak pulse
- Clumsiness and lack of coordination
- Slurred speech or mumbling