Now that the weather has been warming up I shipped my drysuit back to Kokatat yesterday afternoon for repair. It is a GoreTex Meridian I purchased from George Gronseth's Kayak Academy about 3-4 years ago. From what I've heard George is a leading drysuit dealer in this area, which doesn't surprise me because his service has always been excellent. So I asked Kokatat to perform a water test, fix or replace my leaky socks, and evaluate the wrist gaskets and replace them if necessary. I have replaced two neck gaskets already. I trimmed the last one a little big so I'm asking Kokatat to go ahead and replace it while they are fixing everything else. I think one reason my neck gaskets break so often is that I've been storing the suit in a warm, dry furnace room and negligent in applying 303 Protectant regularly -- obviously I didn't read through the care instructions. Well, the fabric is still a clean brilliant cobalt blue so when it comes back it will be good as new!
I think most paddlers will agree that getting a good drysuit is probably the single best kayaking-related purchase you could make. I mean, given how quickly people get tired of their kayaks, a good drysuit will stick around long after you've grown tired of your old boat and want to sell it on Craigslist and get a new one. For instance, I found a Pintail on Craigslist the other day. The guy who was selling it also owned a Greenlander Pro, Anas Acuta, Explorer, and Romany. I'm glad he didn't jump at my low ball offer, because I really don't want to start down that path: once you stop building your own and start buying instead, what's really to stop you?
By the way, give a big warm "thank you" to the Military-Industrial
Complex for Kokatat's excellent customer service, fantastic line of
products, and ongoing research that have made them leaders in the
paddle-sports market. According to Tom and Dubside, who not long ago
toured the factory and received some complimentary cool-looking black
drysuits, Kokatat makes most of their money from military contracts.
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ROLLING TIP FROM DUBSIDE: I had to try this out myself before writing about it. It really works! Dubside told me that recently he discovered from certain qajaasaarneq manuevers that if you start twisting at the feet and ankles you can't help but twist at the knees and hips as well, which will give you the so-called "hip snap" necessary for rolling. It is an interesting observation, because it comes directly from doing qajaasaarneq. So I tried it the other day and it really makes a difference. By concentrating on twisting your feet and ankles first, somehow you get more lower body power into your roll, whether it is a layback or forward recovery, and especially with a tight-fitting kayak.