Before I moved to California, I had NO IDEA about wet suits. South Carolina is warmed by the gulf stream, and hence, I never needed one. The Pacific is DEEP and COLD. The slope of the Pacific, offshore, is steep, and cold water comes up to shore, readily. There is no warm "Gulf Stream" that donates its endothermic enthalpy to the California coast. It's chilly, and that's how thermodynamics meant it to be.
I looked online, and decided upon an "O'Neill Mutant" suit as my target purchase. It looked warm enough, flexible enough, and reasonably priced. Killer Dana, the very personable and very helpful surf shop in Dana Point that had rented surf board and wet suit to my progeny over Christmas at a very reasonable price did NOT have the Mutant suit, but they DID have the Psycho suit, and it fit very well. I also tried on an O'Neill "Heat" suit made of 5 or 6 year old technology, and it was VERY difficult to get my broad shoulders into, or to zip up. The Killer Dana Staff told me that the Heat suit was being phased out and used older technology. The Psycho suit was nearly twice as expensive as the Heat, but Killer Dana had a 30% off sale for "winter suits", so that made it reasonably priced - and the Killer Dana staff were very helpful, informative, and customer-centric. It was a pleasure shopping there. It is a 3-2 suit, ideal for California cold water. A 4-3 suit is for REALLY cold water, and a "7 mil" suit is for ice diving and arctic scuba. The 7 mil suit is SO THICK, that when your arms are bent, it cuts off the circulation below your elbows. 3-2 for CA water. 4-3 for really really cold water. 7 mil (with a hoodie) if you are going to be a polar bear.
So I bought my new XXL Psycho 3-2 suit, and I was determined to go 'down to the shore' to begin snorkeling, body boarding, and enjoying the vast Pacific Ocean. The Very Next Day, I head down to Strand Beach at Dana Point, with mask and snorkel and fins. I get to the beach, and the Strand Beach lifeguard says to be "dude, you're not going to need that suit today" as I squeeze my arms into the suit. "What's the water temp?" I ask him.
"68 or 69"
"I will need to suit, that is barely Lake Michigan in August, and certainly not South Carolina gulf temperatures".
I head out into the surf.. swim 200 yards off shore.. and see NOTHING but sand. The 3-2 Psycho suit IS warm, that is for sure... but all I can see is a sand blizzard, and my arms and legs are stuck in kelp, so I turn around, and head back to shore. Day one, failure.
4 days elapse as I work, and pine for the surf again. Then Friday afternoon, I head down with Body Glove Body Board, and 3-2 wet suit, back to DP Strand Beach before the 4th of July holiday week. I notice I am one of about 5% of swimmers in a wet suit. Body Boarding is A BLAST! I have great fun for 2 hours, and accidentally ingest about 2 litres of sea water in the process. I tell Dr Desert Flower about it, and we plan to go the beach the week of July 4th, when it is "warmer". Then July 2nd, the ambient is almost 80F, the water temp still a chilly 69F... and we head to the beach, me in my 3-2 Psycho suit, her in her bikini. Again, I am one of 5 or 10% of swimmers in wet suits.
Intrepid DDF ventures out into the water without a wet suit, and doesn't freeze her butt off. I feel somewhat silly in my very warm suit, and strip down out of it, to swim shorts after about an hour. I find the surf Chilly, but refreshing... not "teeth chattering"... so I stay out body boarding with my lovely wife. DDF is a natural body boarder, very bouyant... riding waves nearly to shore, while her much heavier husband grounds out beaching himself many yards from the edge of the water. It was great fun, even without the wet suit.
So I have rinsed out my wet suit, and let it dry for 2 days in the guest bed room - using "the coldest water possible". Killer Dana sales personnel warned "never leave the wet suit in direct sunlight to dry" - yes, yes, the UV will get it (and they looked at me with a knowing nod of approval). Never put it in the washer or drier. Never use chemicals on it to clean it. If it starts to smell "funky" they have a wet suit "shampoo" they can see you to clean it... but with proper rinsing after each use, the funk should be avoided. After Labor Day, l will get it back out again, and wear it through the winter at the beach, but for now, I will Body Board in just swim shorts and sun block (including putting the sun block in my hair to protect my scalp).
Come to visit us in Southern CA, and I will show you how much fun you can have body boarding in the surf.... it's as much fun as it looks, and more! =)
1 year ago