This is hugely uncool.
Allow me to be alarmist for a moment (John is, was, and always will be fine, but please indulge me): We’re sailing in water cold enough to induce hypothermia and kill anyone. The drysuits change it into a playground, but only if they’re working. Imagine launching with an unknowingly unzipped drysuit…you have a good run out, jibe off swell a few hundred yards out, and catch your first wave. You don’t fall, remain unaware of your unzipped state, jibe on the inside and now head way to the outside where you see some big beautiful waves setting up. Jibing a quarter mile out you fall, and take on three gallons of ice-cold water. Realizing that you never zipped up (as you shout, crosseyed in discomfort) you set up to waterstart as fast as you can. But the wind is a bit light, so you can’t get any power in the sail at all when you’re in a trough, and as some swell brings you back up into the wind, twenty extra pounds of water in your drysuit prevents you from getting back up on the board. The cycle repeats.
After a minute of this you are in trouble. Maybe it’s three minutes before one of your friends (on shore, taking a break during the lull) comes out to check on you. Now you are unable to sail, and your friend has to figure out how to get you on your board and somehow drag your icy ass back to shore before your heart stops beating. (Hey while we’re having so much fun reading this post, hop on over here and read a bunch of stories about hypothermia deaths in cold water.)
Okay, you say, will you please relax? Who hasn’t launched with an unzipped drysuit, Mr. Editor of the Peconic Puffin? Haven’t you?
Of course I have. We all have. And like most all of us most of the time all I ended up with was a cold back and a quick scare. But sailing in the ocean things can get complicated. And at the Bowl yesterday with the currents swirling near the jetty, the winds up and down and forecasted to turn increasingly offshore, the Wolf’s little episode put safety front and center in our minds.
So to the great disappointment of the two seals hanging out on the inside and rating our jibes, we called it a day after a few hours. “I’ve sailed the Bowl for twenty years…I know when to quit,” said the Wolf. And we all resolved to double check our drysuit zippers in the future.