In case there is anyone out there who hasn’t been following the trials and tribulations of Charles, our unlucky fictitious ferry pilot I’ll try and bring you up to speed. Chuck was hired to ferry a small single engine airplane from the US to Europe in the middle of winter. Since then he’s made a lot of serious mistakes. Number one, agreeing to ferry a small single engine airplane over the north Atlantic in the winter time. Somewhere off the coast of Greenland his plane suffered some sort of mysterious mechanical malfunction, no, he did NOT run out of gas! He’s not THAT much of and idiot. He then managed to ditch the plane without flipping it of knocking himself unconscious, exit the plane wearing his survival suit before it sank, (the airplane, not the suit) inflate and climb into his life raft, and make contact with a passing airliner. Now that you are up to speed, please pay attention because I’m NOT going to do this again!
So where was I? Or should I say where was Chuck? Oh yeah, in his raft trying to play solitaire with soggy cards while waiting for help to arrive, It turns out that being bored might be the least of Chuck’s worries because although he was smart and wore the proper layers of clothing under his survival suit it still might get a little chilly in the wet rubber room after a few hours. My instructors in Iceland told me that the biggest loss of body heat won’t be from the cold air, provided your raft has a good cover on it, but from the rubber floor of the raft. Seeing the the water temperature of the North Atlantic in the winter is…….hell, it don’t know exactly. All I know is that it’s damn cold and that it sucks the heat from anything that touches it for any length of time. Like your butt. I know this for a fact because a few years ago I flew one of my Cessnas up to Alaska with my father and number one son for a week long raft trip down the Kobuk river. It was an amazing trip but one thing we noticed was that the floor of the raft was so cold that it your feet froze even through your tennis shoes. we finally had to put some cardboard down to set our feet on. sort of an insulating barrier. It wasn’t much, but it worked. The problem is that there isn’t much extra junk laying around a life raft in the middle of the Atlantic. All you have is what you bring with you.
That’s why I carry two cheap mylar space blankest and one or two thin plastic rain ponchos in my DO NOT LOSE! bag. I can unwrap and sit on them or wrap them around my body to help keep my core warm. (pictured below)
“But Kerry, I only see one space blanket and no rain ponchos” Oh, you noticed that? That’s because when I opened up my DO NOT LOSE! bag they were missing! Yes, I lost things out of my DO NOT LOSE! bag. That’s because I use the items in the bag for other things and trips other than ferry flying and sometimes they don’t get put back. Grrrrrrrrr. You might also notice that I have some electrical tape wrapped around the space blanket because you never know when that will come in handy. I’ll have to remember to change that tape because I put it there over two years ago and it tends to get funky.
You might also have read that those cheap mylar space blankets aren’t all they are cracked up to be. That’s true, they are not some magical item that will keep you warm no matter what. They are about one atom thick, tear SUPER easy, and give you almost no insulation. But they block the wind a little, trap air a little,(that’s also what the tape’s for, I use it to seal the gaps) and when you wrap two of them around you and then add a cheap plastic rain poncho on top of that it will do something. Better than nothing, and if you don’t bring them that’s what you’ve got, nothing.