The water is getting colder; an icy wind is steadily chilling the brine. And this is only the beginning. So last weekend we went to Dingle. I knew four retail addresses for wetsuits so we surely would lay our hands on a decent winter suit. But we came out of season and could only choose from inadequate assortments that added nothing to our water wardrobe.
Fortunately Dingle and surroundings offer abundant scenery. We walked past Sladeen and climbed to Beenbaun Head. A weary looking Fungi was continually circumnavigated by a speedboat, in order to give the scanty passengers on the conspiring dolphinboat a good view. Only when the boats where gone Fungi showed his legendary shape. He jumped to and fro and seemed to bounce back on his water resistance. Sunday we 'did' the Slea Head drive with its isle scattered panoramas and precipitous coast lines. The breathtaking beauty was finally smothered in a drizzle.
On Monday we left for our ultimate wetsuit tip: 'Tubes' in Cork. On my list of highly fatiguing activities the fitting of wetsuits ranks highly, but the third already proved to be the one. We both have now a 6x4 Rip Curl Fireskin wetsuit, brimming with the last technological developments, like superelastic neoprene, seamless shoulders and a water-repellent and body heat retaining lining. Closer to an underwater stove is hardly conceivable. Dusk had fallen when we left the shop, but because we'd had our fill with B&B's we drove straight to Killohill.
Meanwhile Ciarán, the man who is going to make the frame for the waterwing, had left a message on our answering machine. As the wind was too strong to try out the wetsuits we agreed to meet him at his house in Creegh, about 40 km south, to go over the details of the prototype. It was a long, narrow and windy road that partly seemed paved over the waves. He showed some crucial preprocessing and we went over a number of details. It all looked technically feasible and in my mind I saw Dusty with the broadest smile, patting me on the back. Now I hope to be able to have patience with the Irish procedures. It would take a week at the latest.
I'm not very comfortable with the fact that I can do so little myself. I made all the other wings, so I could always take my own time and act according to my own insight. Nevertheless I will keep the finishing touch: I'll do the rubber wrapping myself. I have begun to long for the moment on which the first pipewaterwing will make her maiden trip. If all falls through I can have them in assembly line production.
Yesterday there was too much white water to try out our suits, but today it seemed doable. I am used to my old 3 millimeter suit, but this 4/6 millimeter slid on easily and felt warmer then the clothes I just took of in the piercing wind. The tide was high, so I could directly jump in from the Pool rock. The two kilo's of lead that I had strung extra on my weight belt did not entirely compensate for the increase of neoprene, but with some extra effort I could reach the seabed. Ever more I got the idea that this suit comes very close to the comfort that Dusty must feel in her insulating fat. I did not feel colder than on the rocks and felt only sporadic water seep in. Also deeper down the water pressure hardly kicked in. The mobility is sublime, better than my old suit. Just a pity Dusty was not there. When we had dressed again we saw her swimming with a speedboat.
What a suit. Like never before on my body. Normally we leave the water chilled to the bone. Now we had a nice talk afterwards, as if we had not been in at al. We came with a VW Transporter, but we went home in a Rolls Royce.