Stay Warm

Grunden PVC Jacket

Grunden Briggs 44 PVC Jacket – a life-saver

I’m not the only person to say that the coldest they’ve ever been is when they’ve been on the water.  But I may be the only person to say that the coldest they’ve ever been is when they were on the water and the air temp was 65 degrees.   It happened when I was guiding customers who were throwing tube lures to barracuda.  I had broken all the rules of staying warm: my hands kept getting wet, I kept running the boat to get to a new spot (increasing the wind from 15 mph to 40 mph), and I was underdressed.  Plus the water was even colder than the air.  Three hours into it I was too cold to tie a knot and had to convince my customers to go in.

I was less cold when I got caught in a blue norther two miles from the boat in Aransas Bay.   I was wearing shorts and a sweater, and the temperature dropped 20 degrees in about 20 minutes.  When the rain hit I was smart enough to get into the water (counterintuitive, yes), which was still in the low 80s even though the air had dropped into the 60s.

What are the cardinal rules for staying warm on a skiff in winter?  Here are mine, more or less in order:

  1. Wear wind-proof clothing.  Nothing lowers body temp like a strong wind or running in the boat.
  2. Don’t get wet.  If that means skipping the flats that you’ll get spray getting to, do it.  If you do get wet, dry off.
  3. Wear one or two layers more than you think you’ll need.  A five degree-temperature drop over the course of a day is huge when the temperature starts at 70 degrees.
  4. Don’t wait until you are shivering to go someplace warm.  Remember, you have to run to find warmth.

After a couple of experiences with hypothermia, I kept a Grunden PVC jacket in my storage area in cases of emergency; there were many times over the years that I was glad to have it.