Saturday, April 25, 2009

Kokatat Dry Suit Care and Feeding

Chuck, his old friend the "Brown Dog" Jasper, and Kokatat drysuit at Grevelingendam, Netherlands 01 March 2008. 4.0 day!

I have been windsurfing in the cold winter months for over 10 years with a drysuit and in 2006 I purchased a Kokatat GFER (Goretex Front Entry Relief) drysuit. I cost about $850.00 but it was the best $850. 00 I have ever spent for water sports equipment. This suit allows me to windsurf and kayak, and in the next years to ride my SUP board, in the coldest fall, winter and early spring weather when cold water and cold air combined make a wetsuit less of a comfortable option for me.
The Kokatat being constructed with Goretex allows much more of your body perspiration to evaporate out of the suit keeping you much dryer underneath than the older "non-breathable" suits. They are extremely well built and tough suits and were originally made primarily for kayaking. Windsurfers discovered them about 10 years ago or so luckily and this has allowed us to extend our season of windsurfing all year long as long as the water has not turned solid.
However, the Kokatat requires more "care and feeding" than a wetsuit in order to keep it in good shape and prevent damage etc. Over time I have learned some lessons on how to do this both through personal experience as well as reading and talking to others. So I am describing my thoughts and recommendations here on how to take care of your Kokatat so that is remains ready to keep you warm and safe out there on those cold windy winter days.
Chuck wearing his Kokatat and ready for his first session ever in Holland at Herkingen, Netherlands. March 2007. Winds WSW at 30-35+Knots and cold!

Gary Johnson, Chuck's brother-in-law, wearing his Kokatat while trying out the Chesapeake 17L that Chuck built for his wife Gayle. Fall 2006, Hatteras Island, North Carolina

Chuck in Kokatat after beautiful, but cold, 4.5 day at Browersdam, Netherlands, November 2008


If you are seriously considering purchasing a Kokatat drysuit, or just searching for additional information, I would very strongly recommend you talk to the "Kayak Academy". "" They have extensive experience with Kokatat drysuits, are extremely knowledgeable and helpful, and can answer any questions you may have regarding Kokatat drysuits, custom suits, alterations, etc., etc.! They also have a wealth of information on the use and care of kokatats as well. The Kayak Academy will ensure you get the right size and model suit to fit any of your watersports needs. Check with them first before you buy!!



- SUMMER STORAGE: I like to store mine in a cool, dry place once the spring weather warms up. Before I do I rinse both the inside and outside throughly with fresh water and let air dry. Then I again apply Aerospace Protectant to the neck and wrist gaskets, both sides, and the zipper gaskets too. Then I hang it in our basement which stays cool and dry all summer long. Sometime in mid-summer I will reapply the 303 again just to help keep them in good shape.
I believe this will greatly help keep the suit in good condition for next season and help prevent the gaskets from drying up and being more prone to tearing etc.

Prior to first use each fall, I will reapply DWR (Durable Water Repellent) to the surface of the suit. For directions on how to do this I recommend you check out the Kokatat Website at: or contact the Kayak Academy.

AFTER EACH SESSION: Keep it thoroughly rinsed off with clean fresh water after each use, and keep the neck, wrist, and zipper gaskets well coated with Aerospace Protectant 303 on a frequent basis. I do mine after every 2-3 sessions and then once a month in the off season. So far this is the fourth season I have used the suit and my gaskets are still in great shape. I think this is because of the meticulous attention I pay to keeping them in good shape and using caution when putting the suit on and taking it off.

Plus I recommend that you get a good thick clothes hanger and add about an 10" section of that soft neoprene rubber insulation tubing - (1 1/2" thick) to each side of the hanger. Then use that to keep your suit hanging on when drying and when not in use. The thick, soft rubber tubing will spread the hanging load on the shoulders of the suit over a greater area. This will reduce any tendency to get hanger wear or creases in the suit.

I like to hang my suit up to dry then turn it inside out and let it air out that way too. Plus when hanging, ensure both the main zipper and pee zipper are open to help get air in and out of the suit. Also, it is not good for the zippers to store them closed either.

Also, keep your zippers well lubed with wax. I use surfboard wax but Bees wax etc. will work to. Finally, check before each use to ensure that there is just a very small dab of vaseline jelly in the very end of the zipper pocket. This will help ensure that now water seeps in around the end of the zipper when fully closed. If it has gone, then put a new dab in.

Remember too, that although the suit material is touch and strong, it could still potentially be torn on a sharp object etc. so use extra caution when walking around and into and out of the water.

You may also find that your under garmets still get a little damp, especially your upper body. This is because even though the goretex breathes if you are expending a lot of energy your rate of perspiration may exceed the ability of the suit to let it evaporate out. I think this all depends on how cold it is and how many layers of garmets you are wearing.

Gary Johnson, Chuck's brother-in-law, with the Kokatat and showing off in the Chesapeake 17L. Hatteras Island, North Carolina. Fall 2006

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Naish 11.4 Stand Up Paddle Board

During my March 09 trip to our house at Cape Hatteras, North Carolina I rented out a demo Naish 11. 4 Stand Up Paddle Board. I liked it so much that I bought it knowing that it will be the ideal light wind, small wave riding machine down at our place in Hatteras. I only got a couple rides on it before I had to go. First I took it over in the Pamilico sound near the Hatteras Island to Ocrakoke Ferry terminal to get the feel of the board, how to stand and balance etc. I quickly found out that it is not as easy as it looks in the videos. Then I went to beach on the ocean at our house. I managed to catch and ride a couple waves but most of the time I did a lot of falling off out in the surf but definitely enjoyed the ability to stand up and paddle out vice laying on the board.
The highlight was paddling just beyond the break parallel with the beach when a pod of 10-12 porpoises (dolphins?) joined me swimming back and forth on both side of the board. Sometimes they were only 5-6 feet away and I could clearly see there big slick grey bodies gliding by under water and their eyes looking at me as they came out of the water. Really Cool!
Now unfortunately the board is in storage awaiting my return to the USA. Here are a couple photos of it. Meanwhile this will give me time to make my own SUP paddle.

Nose View - Naish 11.4

Naish 11.4 Tri-Fin set up

Board Specs!

The beach in front of our Hatteras House where I had my first ocean/wave SUP experience and paddled along with the dolphins

Germans Invade Holland - Windsurfing Style

The "Punt" (Point) at Browersdam, Netherlands. Friday 09 April 2009. First day of the European Easter Holiday Weekend and hundreds of German windsurfers came to Browersdam in every sort of windsurfing vehicle, RV, Van, Trailer etc. imaginable. Winds blew SE 14-18 knots all morning and early afternoon up until about 1500. It was a fun day with many, many windsurfers on the water.

Valeri Veroski, Brussels Belgium windsurfer brings his 9.0 in after the session.

The basic German Van & Trailer set up.

See all the new sails I have - Unknown German windsurfer. Belgium JP board rep parked there too.

Looking West at the Punt. The small green ridge of land at the back of the picture is the dyke keeping back the North Sea from the inland lakes and areas.

Nice German camper van with boards and sail boxes on top.

Looking down the access road at all the vehicles.

Chuck's Volvo XC surrounded by water toys at the Punt and with his composite "Stitch & Glue" wood epoxy sail/mast carrier box on top.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Grevelingendam, Netherlands- March 2008

Chuck with his loyal old brown dog - Jasper after beautiful WNW 35 knot 4.0 session at Grevelingendam. 01 March 2008

Luiz, windsurfing friend from Brussels and his Mistral Syncro. Luiz and his wife now live in Minnesotta, USA

Sailors blasting in 35 knot conditions at Grevelingendam, Netherlands
More high wind blasting. Note windmills in background.

Grevelingendam Windsurfing club.

Rigging up the small board and rigs. 01 March 08, Grevelingendam, NL

Belgium pro-sailor and his camper/trailer set up at Grevelingendam.

Browersdam, Netherlands 2008 Photos

Just an average summer day at Browersdam, Netherlands. Believe it or not, there are just as many windsurfers as kiteboarders to the north beyond the kites. Summer 2008

Browersdam beach snack bar.

Belgium windsurfer Valeri Veroski with his new 65 liter Witch board.

Chuck's Volvo XC with Exocet Cross 94 on roof and sail/mast carrier that Chuck made.

Overcast but high tide & small North Sea waves - Browersdam, Fall 2008

Chuck rigging at Browersdam, summer 2009

Cold 4.5 day, Browersdam, Netherlands. November 2008

Kokatat drysuit is great way to keep warm while getting a November North Sea 4.5 session at Browersdam.

Sea Kayaking

Chuck in his Chesapeake 17 that he built from Chesapeake LightCraft Kit. Also he is using a traditional Greenland Paddle he made from a Western Red Cedar 2x4. Hot summer day on Currituck Sound, Adylett, North Carolina

Chesapeake 17 and 17 L (Gayle's Kayak) on Volvo XC ready to go

Rear view of Chesapeake's on the Volvo

Chuck's brother-in-law Gary Johnson in the Chesapeake 17 while wearing a Kokatat Drysuit. Pamlico Sound, Cape Hatteras North Carolina- fall 2006

Chuck paddling the Chesapeake 17L at on the Pamlico Sound at Cape Hatteras, North Carolina

Chesapeake 17 on the beach at Hatteras

Chuck with paddle salute, Pamlico Sound, Cape Hatteras, North Carolina