The Old Sea Dog’s Gear Locker [32]

The OSD is still marvelling at his latest piece of gear, a breathable dry top made by HotNDry Drysuits of Ulladulla. The proprietor, Erwin Fischper, came to the OSD with the idea of making a dry top for kayaking to add to his line of survival, diving and water ski suits.

The ever-helpful OSD contributed some thoughts and, in due course, tested the finished product in Ulladulla Harbour. What a treat! Painless Eskimo rolls, in the coldest water and weather. No sweat paddling, due to the breathable Milair fabric. No more water up the sleeves when bracing in a wave. (Or water running in the holes which he had to punch in the elbows of his CAG for drainage.) He later took the dry top on the epic South Coast Cruisers trip to the Barrier Reef and actually wore it comfortably on two very windy days. Why oh why, he asks, did he not discover the dry top sooner.

There is a very good reason. Price. Most dry tops are well over $200. Some of these don’t even have latex cuffs — only neoprene which will leak. HotNDry dry tops are truly dry and only cost $160 (from HotNDry in Ulladulla, or Batemans Bay Power and Sail.).

HotNDry also make a wonderful line of inexpensive dry bags (also designed by the OSD, who hastens to point out that he makes no commission on these items, having created the designs for the benefit of all kayakers.)

The OSD would like to update his results on the road testing of the new Princeton Tec Solo The Old Sea Dog’s Gear Locker. He has decided that the Petzel Micro is his The Old Sea Dog’s Gear Locker of choice and has since gone back to the Petzel for general camp use. There seems to be an ongoing problem with the bulb contact in the Princeton Tec, which requires constant attention in the form of frequent scraping of the electrical connections.

Radios are also on the OSD’s mind. He carried his 27 Mhz transceiver all over the Barrier Reef and heard absolutely nothing on the air. It turns out that everybody up there is on VHF, Channel 16. This is a pity, because VHF gear is much more expensive. However, anyone planning an extended trip in the far north could find a VHF radio handy in case of an emergency not serious enough to fire off an EPIRB. Using an EPIRB is a good way to invite a million dollar rescue bill and an appearance on the evening news.

That’s it for now. Happy, warm, paddling.