Right folks, I did manage to get out a couple of times over the New Year. So how was the suit then? (voice of the forum reader).
Well, I purchased a Ravenspring Rapide in blue with the yellow bits (okay, I'm not a ruddy fashion writer you know). As I said before I was worried about it fitting due to previous problems with one piece motorcycle suits. However I need not have worried.
The suit arrived in about 14 days and it fitted perfectly. I was surprised how light it was having seen my daughters diving drysuit. As I mentioned the neck seal was bl***y tight. Any way having sat around wearing it in the living room for a few nights, I finally trimmed it a bit. I still left it slightly too tight, but I found that it indeed did seem to stretch a little and soon felt okay.
So, out on the water then.
My first trip out was into the Cromarty Firth on New Years Eve. The air temperature was about -1 degree c. There was a little wind and it felt blooming cold. My pal Jim (well he was my pal until I took him out in sub zero temperatures) and I launched from the ferry slipway at Nigg (see www.boatlaunch.co.uk
). The sea was a bit choppy so I knew we would get wet (well at least Jim would if my suit was any good).
At the moment there are 13 rigs in the Firth so there is plenty of activity.
I wore jeans, a shirt and a fleece under the suit. I was a bit hot whilst launching the boat but guessed (correctly) that I would need the extra fleece when out in the boat. I also wore my neoprene gloves and a ‘Henri Lloyd’ waterproof boating hat. This is like a baseball cap but is fleece lined and had ear-flaps. It also has a clip on the end of an elastic strap so you can attach it to your suit so if it comes off you do not loose it (good idea).
The suit was well immersed in the water as we launched. It felt comfortable as I sat on the tube to steer the boat. We made our way out around a couple of the rigs into the mouth of the firth, between the Sutors and then around the Buss Bank buoy. When we turned around to go into Cromarty Harbour we were ‘against’ the sea and being outside the mouth of the firth there was quite a chop going. This is where I really felt the benefit of the suit. We were getting a lot of VERY cold spray, but I still felt warm and dry. Jim was beginning to shiver. Now before you say how cruel I am, I had given him my neorpene waders. However the spray was wetting his upper body area despite the ‘waterproof’ jacket.
We then made our way into Cromarty Harbour where we tied up and went for a short walk to sit and drink out home made broth (thanks to ‘er indoors). The suit was again used in waist deep water. It felt comfortable whilst walking and sitting on dry land. It also looks very professional (important when you have a small boat you know).
We launched again but by now ‘Jim laaaad’ was getting cold so we made our way back to Nigg. I, on the other hand was still warm, dry and comfortable and could have carried on for hours. Whilst landing the boat Jim and I were standing in the water holding the boat to get it onto the beach (it was quite choppy and the slipway looked a bit iffy). Jim was half out of the boat when a wave caught it and shoved him head first into the drink. Jim was not too amused but it looked very funny to me! He got an even wetter top half. I, on the other hand stayed nice and dry as I fished him out. Fortunately Jim was able to get changed right away and into the warm car. I was able to fraff about betting the boat sorted.
When I took off the suit I was perfectly dry underneath, and most importantly, thanks to the special ‘breathing fabric’ I was not soaked in sweat.
So, was it worth the money? Most definitely - YES. I wish I had brought one two years ago when I got the boat, but what is the fun of life if you can’t learn your lessons the hard way? Orkney, here I come…..
Keith (dry and warm) Hart