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  #1  
Old 12-10-2009
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Cold weather mooring

I took a walk down to the beach tonight, Long Island Sound about 32 degrees with a pretty good surf running.

It is a dark and stormy night etc. etc. I could have a boat at a mooring a couple hundred yards out.
If I did, and wanted to get out to it at night by myself in cold weather, in not ideal wind and wave conditions what would be the most likely way to do it successfully?

I know it's not the smartest thing to, so if you have to say so, knock yourself out. What I'm interested in is not how stupid it is, but how to make is just a little less stupid.

Would a hard bottom dinghy be best? Easier to row than an inflatable.
How about a sea kayak?
Once I'm on the boat I don't like the idea of a dinghy banging around and swamping but it would be hard to haul on board and add wind-age to the boat.
What to wear? A wet-suit, foulies? The ride could get wet.
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Old 12-11-2009
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After the video

If you have no one watching a survival suit would be the smart thing to wear.
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Old 12-11-2009
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I like windblocker fleece.

It is fleece laminated with an impervious layer. It functions something like neoprene, but is very wearable. It is waterprrof, except at the seams, since they cannot be sealed.

Yes, I have been in 32F water wearing it - had to swim about 100 feet to retrieve a rudder in January. Not fun, but more survivable than ordinary clothes.

I had a wet suit on the boat... which I had just taken home to service over the winter!
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Old 12-11-2009
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The two key points are launching the dinghy and boarding the vessel on the mooring. If you can launch in a protected cove nearby, that is ideal. Launching through surf is extremely problematic because waves can capsize the boat, swamp it, or throw it backwards onto the beach. If you are stuck with an exposed place, count the wave sets for 15 minutes before launching, you will find a pattern and can launch in the smallest waves. Getting aboard can be extremely tricky and there is a definite chance of ending up swimming. Tying off the dinghy and maybe yourself(having a ladder down wouldn't be a bad idea) is critical. Again, timing your jump is critical. You have to accept some bashing together between the two boats, that is what fenders are for. Being willing to land somewhere different than where you launched is important as well. Once you are out through the breakers, the dinghy should be relatively safe so you can row a bit further and go into a protected cove to land. Also, avoiding rowing beam on is key, you can "tack" from 45 degrees to 135 degrees off the wind to go perpendicular to the waves.

As to what boat to use, I would choose a small fiberglass dinghy with lots of flotation. The reason that I like a rigid dinghy is that they row a lot better and small outboards don't work well when it gets rough. You can't put the outboard down and get it started when doing a surf launch and if it dies because of being swamped, you are going to have to row. The reason that I do not suggest a kayak (this is actually how I normally get to the boat) is that boarding the boat is extremely difficult because you have to go from sitting in the bottom of an unstable boat to standing. Besides hull design, the other considerations are keeping water out and having positive buoyancy should something happen. If you look at whitewater canoes, you will notice that rather than decking them over, they use float bags to fill the volume of the boat so that water cannot. If you are going to do this often, filling every available space in the boat with well secured float bags would be smart. In addition, this will make sure that the boat will not sink.

As to what to wear, a drysuit with synthetics underneath would be ideal but quite expensive. A thick (5mm or thicker) wetsuit with a hood would be a lot less pleasant but would work quite well. The fabric that pdqaltair is referring to works like a wetsuit and is really nice, kayakers call it fuzzy rubber. And then a lifejacket is a given.

The most important thing in all of this is the operator. If you have never rowed a boat in surf before, try it on a day when the water is warm and don't be afraid to really get inside the surf line. I did this several years ago with an old beatup dinghy and wore a wetsuit and helmet and got a lot better at handling the boat. For people that are whitewater kayakers or surfers, getting out through the surf will be a lot easier. For me, we have the situation that you describe with the boat being in a very exposed place but luckily there is a cove nearby that tends to be a lot calmer where I can launch. Being a whitewater kayaker, I was able to quickly pick up how to get the dinghy out through the surf line but the part that worries me the most every time is getting aboard the moored boat.
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Old 12-11-2009
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Here is how I do it.
I have a dry suit. There are many brands and names, some relatively cheap, some quite expensive. I'm on my forth suit, I did some beach catamaran racing and some adventure racing. I found that it is possible to find nice suit for $400 or so. I use small inflatable kayak. For solo use it is best as sailboat dinghy, in my opinion. It is stable. It does paddle in any wind and it doesn't bang against a hull. Kayak is easy to lift on boat, too...

Suit, fleece underwear, neoprene gloves, if weather is really nasty, neoprene hat/mask, inflatable kayak, life jacket, flares in packets, hand held VHF, flash light/strobe... I see no problem to get out...

Dry suit works as foil weather gear/survive suit on my boat while I'm sailing...
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Old 12-11-2009
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build a fire on the beach, make a shelter/wind break .out of the dinghy, and wait until morning ??

seriously though, it would be tough challenge....The clothing/gear works only if you had the foresight to have it with you....

If I were in a cove and could work my way around the edge to get upwind of the mooring, I might try that...I'm picturing somewhere like Port Jeff...LI...with a deep harbor.......

I wouldn't attempt it without the proper gear...you've only got minutes in that water without it.
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Old 12-11-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrazyRu View Post
I use small inflatable kayak. For solo use it is best as sailboat dinghy, in my opinion. It is stable. It does paddle in any wind and it doesn't bang against a hull. Kayak is easy to lift on boat, too...
This sounds good but how do you get from the kayak to the boat.

You are sitting down and standing in a kayak is maybe not so easy?

Which kayak's have you had good luck with?
Do you have a full skirt sealed around or is it more open.
How do you get in the kayak from a boarding ladder?
How do you get from the kayak to the boarding ladder?
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Old 12-11-2009
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Thanks for all the good ideas guys. I noticed that I'm getting comments from people that are not our regular contributors. I really appreciate it, Thanks.
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Old 12-11-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pdqaltair View Post
Yes, I have been in 32F water wearing it - had to swim about 100 feet to retrieve a rudder in January. Not fun, but more survivable than ordinary clothes.
It it not sealed garment so can I assume you were soaked after your swim.

According to the video you only have 10 minutes of useful work.
Does this match your experience.
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Old 12-11-2009
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I would suggest a chunk of styrofoam.
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