I fell in the water today. 45 degree water and 35 degree air temp. 4 miles away from my launch without a full wetsuit.
But I was able to laugh about it not long after it happened. I was with Fred and Matt for a long 9 mile paddle. We had dealt with some wind and chop with no problems. Then we end up in some flat glassy water leeward of a point in front of many lakefront homes. We're taking a brief break and barely moving on our boards just talking...and that's when I somehow lost my balance and my board shot backwards right out from under my feet. DOH!! In that split second, I'm thinking I can save myself and at least keep my upper body from getting immersed. But no chance as I go full under. It must have been the cobwebs I was still shaking off from the neighborhood Christmas party the night before. Whatever it was...was now a shock to the system and now a sudden worry of hypothermia.
But I was actually not in any real danger. I was not paddling alone. We were right next to several lakefront homes so I could have left the water right there and gotten a warm blanket from someone and called my wife to come pick me up. I'm certain someone was sitting in their nice warm cozy home and saw me fall in...and probaby mumbling something about that crazy nut out on the water on such a cold day. I'm sure it wasn't a good example and showing for SUP on Lake Norman.
As it turned out, the biggest reason I wasn't in any real danger, was the clothes I was wearing. So I just decided to keep moving to stay warm, paddling the rest of the way back to the launch.
Rip Curl 5mm booties & 2mm "Glacier Gloves" - the only thing I had a problem with after I fell were my fingers....they were freezing. I'm now getting cold weather neoprene mittens to keep those fingers bundled together.
Fleece cap (made for road bikers to wear under their helmets on cold days). Keeps my head toasty warm.
NRS hydroskin .5mm neoprene pants - not like a real wetsuit but wicks off water nicely. They passed the cold water immersion test today and my legs stayed warm.
Polyester wicking shirt (I wore this as the 1st layer). If you're not in the water, this is normally a warm shirt and keeps you warm even when you're sweating underneath.
Fleece long sleeve rashguard (as 2nd layer) and shorts (worn under the hydroskin pants) - I've had this combo for 10 years that I usually wear under my wetsuit on cold windsurfing days. This is what saved my upper body from getting hypothermic today.
3rd layer on top of the fleece shirt - Pearl Izumi cold weather tri/biking shirt
I was also wearing a pfd belt pack and had my cell phone in a water tight pouch.
Talk about feeling like an idiot. Looking back, it was pretty funny. I can imagine what was going through Matt and Fred's head when I fell in. I've never fallen in while simply paddling on flat water...and never have given it a second thought. I normally don't wear the fleece shirt/shorts or hydroskin pants if its over 40 degrees. If I had not been wearing those 2 things, I would have had to find help from one of those lakefront homes. Don't make the same mistake...you might not have the same luxury I had with others close by. Be prepared for cold weather paddling.
30 minutes after I got home, it started snowing.
Here are some good articles written about cold weather SUP and windsurfing:
The Ice Man Cometh
30 Tips For Cold Weather Paddling
Welcome to Freezing Cold-Ville (windsurfing)