Re: NANFA-- staying afloat

Doug Dame (
Thu, 29 Aug 2002 11:01:32 -0400

Expanding on Steven Ellis's reply (below) to Rich:

>> A wetsuit will make you a bit more buoyant, but it will not
>> serve as a flotation device. You'd be better off wearing a
>> flotation jacket over it such as kayakers use. As for catching
>> fishes underwater, aquarium nets or small trout dipnets
>> (my personal favorite) work well if you're quick.

Wetsuits vary in buoyancy depending on the thickness of the material and
coverage (e.g., full vs shortie) . In salt-water (denser than fresh water, of
course, some people are so buoyant they have trouble leaving the surface.
(It's not at all a bad thing for a diver to have significant positive buoyancy
... that's why scuba divers wear quick-release weight belts, of course.)

While a kayaker' or water-skier type flotation jacket would probably work, you
might want to also check out your local dive stores to see an actual dive vest
designed for snorkelers. It will have an easy-operate mouth tube for inflating
or deflating it while in the water, so you can adjust your buoyancy depending
on the needs of the moment. I bought a very basic model that as I recall was
about $35. I suspect that fancier models exist that also include a CO-2
cartridge on a pull-string for emergency power inflates.

For keeping the fish you catch, you might want to use a floating "trolling
bait bucket" tied to a short rope and clipped to your belt or something. (In
fact, quick-release clips on both ends of the rope is probably a good idea.)
The ones with a hinged "push with one hand to operate" door are especially
handy for quickly and easily inserting new specimens into the container. Check
the fishing section of any of your favorite local stores. (Note by definition,
if it doesn't HAVE a fishing section, it shouldn't be on your list of favorite

And Rich said in his original posting:

>> I have rather severe neuropathy (numb feet and hands) from
>> long term cancer medications that have been used to combat
>> my Multiple Myeloma.

Because water is so efficient in sucking heat out of a person compared to
air, hypothermia in water can happen way quicker than most people would
expect, and (at least in my personal experience) normally the hands and feet
are the first indications that one is getting seriously chilled. If you don't
have normal feeling in your feet and hands, and thus might not be as quickly
aware of the normal early warning signs, you probably need to take special
precautions when snorkeling ... just like scuba divers know there's a "time
and depth" safety zone that they exceed at grave risk, you may need to be
consciously aware of and manage your "time and temperature" safety zone.
Wearing gloves and neoprene booties when snorkeling might help, or might
perversely just further mask the early warnings. You might want to discuss
that with your doctor to see if he/she has any special thoughts about what
things you might need to do to be safe while snorkeling. (And of course, a
dive (snorkel) buddy is one classic good idea.)


Douglas Dame
Interlachen FL
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