Bays and Harbors Remain Very Cold

At long last, it feels like spring! The last few days have brought sunshine and warmth after many months of cold, dreary weather. Spring fever is very real; people are getting outside, enjoying the fresh air, soaking in a little vitamin D, and stretching their sea legs. But, as enticing as glistening waters may be to kayakers, paddleboarders, and the like, it is still dangerous out there. 

With water temperatures hovering around 45 degrees, the bays and harbors still pose a serious risk for those who find themselves unceremoniously submerged for even a short period. The water does not have to be frigid to cause symptoms of hypothermia at these temperatures, and it doesn’t take much time for them to set in. 

Boating season is still a way off. But year after year, we see paddle-sport enthusiasts venture out in cold waters without proper insulating gear, not to mention the required life vests. Just look at what happened off Orient Point about two weeks ago. 

A boat three men were taking from Port Jefferson to Shirley struck rocks and sank in Plum Gut during a windstorm. The current took two of the men away from the swamped boat. They were later pulled in and treated at a local hospital. Crew members aboard a Plum Island ferry pulled in the third man, who was in more serious condition and unable to assist in his rescue because of the brutal effect of the frigid water on his muscles. Hypothermia had set in.

Safety regulations for boaters are widely publicized, but less well known is that there are regulations for paddlers, too. While it might put a damper on an idealized notion of paddling on the bay unencumbered, the United States Coast Guard considers a life jacket, VHF-FM marine radio, and personal locator beacon essential equipment for paddlers. 

And, paddlers, please: Invest in a wetsuit, supporting your local surf shop while you’re at it. You will thank us if you fall in.