I salute Sea Kayaker Magazine and Chris Cunningham for posting Moulton Avery's thought-provoking Newsletter article. Longtime readers of Sea Kayaker will recall Moulton's blockbuster Cold Shock article in the Spring 1991 issue of SK, a bombshell piece that literally poured cold water all over the "wear the suit only in Challenging Conditions" theories of the sea kayaking gurus of the day, many of whom still cling to their disastrous notions. This Newsletter article, along with SK's publishing of Chris Brooks' article on Cold Shock and Swimming Failure in 2008, represents a continuing emancipation of SK from the ongoing TAPS stricture of almost never mentioning wetsuits and drysuits--the bright yellow caution label inside my brand-new sea kayak only tells me to "dress appropriately for weather conditions....." WEATHER conditions! Nothing about focusing on water temperature conditions, and nothing about what constitutes appropriate dress. Sad.
Moulton Avery was a longtime, active member of ANorAK, the Association of North Atlantic Kayakers. As such, he was a potent voice within ANorAK during ANorAK's vigorous campaign during the 1980s and 1990s to fully air the whole issue of cold water safety and to emphasize the role that regular, habitual wetsuit/drysuit use plays in promoting sea kayaking safety, especially by introducing newcomers to seeing their peers routinely wearing wetsuits and drysuits. Our local paddling group here in New Jersey, the JSSKA, is an example of how effective that peer example is, as virtually everyone in our group paddling cold water routinely wears wetsuits/drysuits as the normative response to cold water. What the early gurus of the Sea Kayaking Industry failed to recognize was that cold water itself was the challenging condition requiring habitual wetsuit/drysuit use.
Again, great article, and kudos to Moulton avery and to Sea Kayaker Magazine.