Air Temp: 72°
Water Temp: 55°
Wind: 19-23 mph
FRANCES: This was the latest in the season we have ever kayaked, and easily the coldest we have ever gone out. The water temperature was 72 ° but the air temperature was only 55°. Adding to that, when we started out the wind was at 19mph with gusts to 23mph. By the time we came back the wind was up to 23mph and gusting to 29mph. (I have this info from a Marine buoy which sends back hourly data!)
We were fairly well prepared for our first "cold" journey out. Glen had waterproof pants, I had neoprene pants and waterproof shorts. We wore layers up top. Glen thought of wearing gloves, which was the only thing I wished I had remembered and didn't. We even had a thermos of hot chocolate to share on the river later in our journey.
We had decided before we even reached the put-in that we would NOT go ten miles like last week and that we would just go slow and easy. Looking out over the bay, it was easy to tell it was low tide, so I also added to our lists of "nots" that we not go into Mobile Bay. I didn't feel like being a gondolier again today.
As we started out, I was really impressed by my new waterproof socks. Glen had made a special trip to purchase them for me and surprised me with them after work yesterday. Never in my life did I imagine I would be at the point where a pair of waterproof socks would excite me, but they did. Especially this morning when I first put my feet in that chilly water and my feet stayed dry and relatively warm. To give credit where it is due, they are called Sealskin and you can find them at www.danalco.com.
The water was a little choppy as we first set out, but I had expected that. I had looked at the Marine forecast last night and saw that we would have some wind to deal with, hopefully though, it would be in our favor. I had only brought one camera with me, so I didn't bother setting up the paddle rig for my video. Looking ahead toward the sunrise, it was interesting to see the fog rise up off the river. Try as I might, I couldn't capture on the camera what my eyes were seeing.
We decided to travel up river and the paddle was quiet, peaceful and very enjoyable. For the most part, I was dry. I could feel a little bit of water seep through the seam of my neoprene shorts, but that was all. The only part of me that was really cold were my hands. I even pulled my sleeves down over my hands and tried to paddle like that, but unfortunately my steering was less than optimal.
We reached an hour out and decided to stop and enjoy our hot chocolate. It was so nice to have that while we rested. At some point during our rest, Glen pointed out to me that the water was actually warm. I dipped my hand in and found it to be much warmer than the air! After than, I frequently put my hands in the water to warm them. It seemed so odd doing that when I was used to putting my hands in the water to feel the coolness of the river.
As we rested, the strong current -- aided by the increasing winds -- carried us back almost to Chacaloochee Bay. We had to cross the river first, and go against the strong wind and the strong current, but it didn't take long to reach the bay. We had thought at that point the current would just take us in, but we were wrong. We were still against the current. As we paddled closer to the put-in, the wind really increased. It was so much harder to paddle against the current, that I was stabbing the paddle into the water and having to pull hard on my abdominals to force my boat against the current. Water was spraying up over my bow and all over my legs and arms.
When we were finally even with the put-in, all we had to do was line the bow toward shore and the current literally pushed us all the way in. I think this was the first time ever I was really ready to get out of the water. I was tired after fighting the current twice. When I went to stand up, my legs were so tired from bracing against the boat to help paddle, I almost fell down.
Once we were out of the water, and into the wind, we really began to feel cold. We loaded the boats as quickly as we could and rushed home to a hot bath and shower. I really enjoyed this colder kayaking experience more than I thought I would, but I will bring gloves before I go out again.