T H E G R E E N L A K E P A D D L E R
D R Y S U I T , K E E P I N G T H E W A T E R A T B A Y
TRYING TO STAY DRY IN A '' SCOTTISH " DRYSUIT
The first ever Drysuit voyage I undertook, was done in the '' use your body as a boat '' fashion.
I wanted to find out how much buoyancy I would gain, and to experience how long it would
take, to reach the point of getting uncomfortably cold, wearing an outfit like this. As a
drysuit is only a barrier for the wet, I wore two fleece undersuits as a precaution
not to get cold too fast. Water temperature was about 5 degrees celcius that
day, a Greenland paddle was my means of propulsion. I managed to
potter around in the lake for about 20 minutes and realized that my
body temperature was beginning to go down. Cold was creaping
in slowly but steadily. This was an eye opener as I expected
to remain cosy a lot longer. On inspection the suit was dry
on the inside, so that was a good beginning to start with.
Water temperature 5 degrees and wearing no hood, Bad idea! As you can see
I gained some speed, by judging the wake that's being produced. It's pretty
difficult to keep course paddling like this, but an interesting excercise.
I guess a skeg mounted on the back of my heels would have
helped a great deal to keep track! Something for later.
BUT AFTER SOME TIME
The Inner mesh and membrane started a life on their own.
But, there is always a but. Pretty soon after taking this suit into service it started to
develop these wobbly bobbly areas, delaminations. The suit is made of a real
strong outer layer, I am not sure what type of fabric, followed by a membrane
( one way traffic for moist created by the wearer ) and finally some sort of
wear protecting mesh on the inside. The first layer that began a life on
its own was the inner mesh. It came loose from the membrane in the
armpit areas. I decided to leave things as they where and paddle.
Water was still kept where it was supposed to be, on the outside.
THE BRUSH AND THE GUNK
Next where the tapings coming loose here and there, I am talking about 4 months
of light use. The delaminating mesh occurred a lot earlier. I decided to gunk this
thing up on the inside, ( I've used an EPDM rubber glue ) so I started to smear
and treated every doubtful spot that appeared. The brush had a great time.
WHAT ABOUT SOME ASSISTANCE FROM HE OUTSIDE?
Textile glue, can be washed at 40 degrees C so must be fairly
resillient stuff. Worth a try, there is nothing much to lose.
To help the seam tape in keeping water out, I went for the " seal it on the outside
as well routine ". I've glued up all seams as you can see here, not the
neatest of solutions, but functional. In the image a freshly
sealed seam, becomes transparent after setting.
When cured it looks like this, and hurray ... it does the job alright!
The suit became a little drier to paddle again, for a while ...
As you know the Dutch are experts in keeping water out! Not so for the Scotts...
During the years following the gunk brush went wild, I wanted to stay dry and this
method seemed to work. The roofers gunk stuff is pretty hardwearing, but over
time it looses elasticity and starts to crack and the whole story repeats itself.
As the outer layer is still holding up and doesn't show any wear at all, I
will keep the brush busy, but the end is in sight that's for sure.
The latex seals where replaced after 6 years of use, or counted in actual paddling
time: every week 5 hours October till May. On this particular suit the original
seals where protected by cuffs, preventing UV light from doing bad things.
I removed the cuffs to have better access for the seal swap, as a result
the replacement seals now just lasted for just a few years only.
WITH '' A LITTLE WORK " NOT A BAD SCORE AFTERALL
All in all I managed to get almost nine years out of this cheap suit, but now it
needs to be replaced. What did surprise me where the (T) zippers, never
had a problem with 'm. I've expected these to be the end of the
suit sooner or later, but no they survived. I've lubricated the
zippers after each use and that seems to have paid of.
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