The other day I was looking at my paddle jacket, and feeling unhappy. Water soaks through. The neck and wrist closures are still good, which is nice because Velcro does eventually wear out. The jacket still fits over my head, and over my wetsuit and merino wool shirt, which is good because it means that my waistline hasn't expanded too dreadfully during a semester of fewer paddling sessions. There are no tears in the main fabric of the jacket, though there are some black stained spots; dunno how to remove those speckled stains, but maybe a mild bleach solution will help.
The problem is, water soaks through. Dip an elbow, get a wet and cold elbow.
It's not a surprise. The jacket was second-hand when Tom Jacklin found it and another for Bernie and me in a thrift store, five years ago. I sprayed it then with a water-proofing treatment, and did another coat last year.
Now it's time to do a little triage: is it time to do another coat of waterproofing spray at about $12 a bottle? Or is a dry suit a better investment? I did a little research.
Dry suits are worth the cost, if one can afford it, but it's not in my budget this year. I'd have to get one made to measure, anyway. Waterproofing spray would be the answer to keep a new paddle jacket waterproof, but for this older jacket the sprays are no longer effective. Instead, I'm going to use a waxing technique that I've learned about from some DIY websites... it isn't pretty to smear paraffin wax over a garment, but heck! this garment ain't pretty any more. I'm looking for something to help keep me warmer when I get splashed (not if, but WHEN), and maybe help keep me alive if I tip over during a crossing between islands this summer.
And I'm not going to whine about my paddle jacket. Not after looking at some of the images of traditional Inuit paddle gear, made from gut. You can see and read a little about these gut garments at the Inuvialuit Living History Website. A great website, well worth wandering through at leisure!
Other traditional kayak clothing can be seen in the film People of a Feather. Click here to see the trailer for this terrific documentary, which opens with a scene of a traditional boat in use in Hudson's Bay!