Whilst looking through some of my old slides I came across this one, which represents an interesting time in the evolution of modern kayak equipment.
It was taken in November 1982 on the beach at Greve de Lecq in Jersey. It was an unusually cold day, note the snow on the front of the kayak. I am the one in the paddling equipment, if you weren't sure.
Wind surfing was becoming popular a number were wearing this new clothing, a dry suit, prior to this evolution the dry suits were very basic items of equipment. We were fortunate enough to be lent a dry suit
One concern which was doing the round of the paddling community was that in the event of a capsize, if the dry suit hadn't been vented properly it was likely that the feet would fill with air and the kayaker would be suspended upside down. My role, no pun intended, in this exercise was to paddle offshore, do a couple of rolls before capsizing and hopefully swimming ashore with my head above water.
As I am writing this 31 years later it is clear that being suspended upside down with your feet full of air was an urban myth. So based on this rather unscientific experiment we ordered 6 dry suits and 7 months later flew out to Spitsbergen for a 2 month trip. As far as I am aware we were one of the first sea kayaking trips to use the modern dry suit, an item of equipment, which today is virtually essential for any self respecting sea kayaker.
Typical kayaking conditions in NW Spitsbergen, just short of 80 degrees N.
If you are contemplating sea conditions like these a dry suit is pretty essential.
The sea is frozen just in front of the paddlers, wearing dry suits in conditions like this made life on expedition bearable. It was a complete revelation to us over 30 years ago.