BreezySeas Explorers bLog

Captain Breezy Grenier, FRGS MN'17 Ocean M.E.S.E Mariner, Educator, Scientist, Explorer

Dressing for the Elements

I have worked in the seasonal industry for over 14 years, and have seen everything from overdressed, to underdressed, to “what were they thinking?!”. When I was a kid we use to design our Halloween costumes to fit over our snow gear, because there was always a good chance we would get snow in October, now a days we are lucky enough to get snow period. People are always quick to assume that if you are doing a snow sport you should be dressed a certain way while doing that sport, but its not only that you should dress for the sport, more importantly you should be dressing for the weather conditions. Now that “Spring skiing/ riding” is almost an entire season, people need to adjust their garments to ride in “Spring” temperatures.
Especially in recent years in events relating to global warming and climate change, constantly during lessons we are taking off layers upon layers of clothing off our students because they are over heating for the fact they are wearing to many, heavy layers in 50+ degree weather trying to snowboard. Some kids are so over dressed that they can’t even move! Each year it blows my mind what I see, we do our best to educate but it’s hard to change an association. I have kids even tell me they would rather be hot and sweaty because they think they look cool in their gear.
If I am free riding at a mountain and the weather is suitable, I am usually one of the first to go snowboarding in my bikini. Again adjusting the attire for temperature and the sport, I wear snow pant shells (waterproof protection for sitting on chairlifts and on the ground *no one likes a wet bum*), gloves (because you touch the snow) and a brimmed hat instead of a beanie to help shade my eyes from the sun. I do not encourage my students to go snowboarding in a swimsuit (when they are older they can figure that out on their own) but if it’s hot enough, t-shirts absolutely!
Then going to the other spectrum, we have been getting usually one or two deep Arctic Blasts a year, where it is below zero without any snow on the ground. Remember it can be too cold to snow; people always look at me funny when I say its warm enough to snow. People assume that because there is no snow, its not as cold (even though the temperatures beg to differ) OR they trust or know how their snow gear works in the colder conditions. This is when we run into the problem of doubling up of socks (that actually make their feet colder), layering up of cotton (creating a wet, sweat, layer directly on the skin) and wearing multiple scarf’s, balaclava, and hats, even leading to the problem that the kids can’t breathe!
Especially in New England, where we can have all four seasons in one day, it can be difficult to dress for the weather. Remember 50 degrees in the Spring FEELS warmer than 50 degrees in the Fall. It is ok to layer up, only if you remember to take off layers when you get hot, and that you can always put layers back on. It is ok to take breaks if you’re thirsty, hot, or cold. 45 minutes to an hour and a half is a long time to be outside and the weather can change in a heartbeat. Also remember you can get a sunburn in the winter, and you can snowboard/ski in the rain!

Posted 123 weeks ago

The Importance of Proper Fitting Equipment

I started snowboarding on my 8th birthday, 22 years ago. My parents openly hated snowboarding, they said they were all “punks” that destroyed the snow on the trails, so when I wanted to try snowboarding they did everything to try and deter me from snowboarding, but at the same time acted like the supportive parents that they were. Having started skiing at 2 years old, I quickly became bored with my weekly lesson programs over the years, and begged my parents to allow me to try snowboarding “when I was old enough”. In the 90’s it was still believed that children couldn’t start snowboarding until they developed the muscles to be able to snowboard, usually around 7-9 years old. I remember I was so excited to get to skip school for my birthday and go to the mountain for my first snowboarding lesson. I remember my instructor wasn’t very pleasant. Morning shifts usually didn’t get young children, so he wasn’t very pleased to have a hyper 8-year-old girl, I know I was a lot to handle, I would get bored very easily if I wasn’t being challenged, and I didn’t have a problem with letting you know it. I picked up all the skills very quickly, but he wanted to teach by the book, and wouldn’t skip tasks, but after a two back-to-back lessons, I was comfortably connecting turns on green terrain.
Since both of my parents were big into skiing I had brand new skis with each growth spurt. Especially with how tiny and short I was, my parents knew the importance of proper fitting equipment to try and turn me into the next Olympian Skier. My parents still upset that I wanted to continue with snowboarding, but wanting to pretend to be the supportive parents of a sport they despised, they went and bought me my first snowboard to add the cherry on top for my birthday. My first snowboard was a red 148 Liquid with step in bindings. For those who do not know much about snowboarding sizes, I am 5’3 and my boards are between a 142 and 148, I should have been on a 90 maybe a 100. I won’t even get into step-in bindings and how horrible they are. Also take note about Liquid snowboards; their symbol was two stick figure men, peeing into a puddle, not at all embarrassing for an 8-year-old girl. I would put stickers on my board or paint the bottom, and even was deterred from not getting into park because I wanted my board to be planted on the ground so no one could see it. My parents wouldn’t bring me snowboarding, only skiing, so I would have to catch a ride with a neighbor or friends if I wanted to snowboard. To make a long story short, I became a snowboarding instructor to not only pay for but to teach and share my passion of snowboarding.
Jumping ahead to now, it is still slowly coming around but the fact is if a child can walk, they can snowboard, the key point is they just need the proper size equipment. Day in and day out whether it be on rentals, new equipment, or handed down from the older sibling, I come across children being on equipment that is much to big for them. Especially more in this day and age, children get easily frustrated and give up quickly if they can’t do something, and even if its just a difference of 10cm, that can quickly loose a child from enjoying not only a sport, but the great outdoors. Please do not put your children on equipment that is to big, thinking they will just grow into it. If you come across a good deal, buy it and save it for next season or later down the road. For younger children (usually under 8 years old (with height generally under 4ft) aim for sizing them between the nipple line and shoulders. For children between 8 and 12 (with height roughly <5ft), aim for shoulders and chin. Other things to consider: girls and children on the leaner side aim towards the shorter board. If your child is mistaken to be an adult, or a football linebacker you can go for a longer board. For boots, make sure they fit the child with snowboarding/ winter socks on, and only wear one pair of socks, layering socks actually makes you colder. The boots are the most important piece of equipment because that is where our movement initiates. Also make sure the boots fit inside the bindings, the bindings should still have room to be able to click down after they are snug with the boots. The bindings should span the width of the board. Older boards are much wider than more modern boards, more commonly we see boots and bindings that are to small for the board.
An additional thing to consider, even at a young age, girls have a naturally wider stance and some boards do reflected this in their setup. I have students “tearing up the trails” as young as two and a half. Please don’t set up your kids for failure, if the equipment doesn’t look right, don’t be afraid to say something.

Posted 127 weeks ago

Sierra Charlie!

Well, I lucked out to be able to write the blog today, but my only problem is how to describe how perfect today has been. We started the day waking with the rising crescent moon competing to take over the sky with sunrise. The sun’s rays greeting us along with a warm, calm northwest wind (yes, I stated that correctly, WARM north winds!) with blue skies to follow. The four lowers were raised for the last time as we go to anchor tomorrow-nearing completion of our voyage.  

During the afternoon class time, the professional crew deployed the rescue boat to take pictures of the ship for us. We knew something was up when they just pulled up back alongside and did not recover the small boat promptly. That’s when we were surprised with a swim call! That’s right, it’s the first time we’ve been able to jump in off the ship and go swimming in the South Pacific! The water was a whopping 16°C, the green mountains of the Aorangi Range were in the distance, and the hull of the ship glowing white with the sun. Summer finally got the memo and has graced us with her presence.

So I didn’t think any more color could fill the sky after this morning’s sunrise, but I was proven wrong. Sunset seemed to last for hours, with neon pinks and purples bringing fire to the evening sky. Thinking today couldn’t end any better; standing lab watch this evening, Captain Rick and Deb surprised us with the fun activity of scientific squid jigging! As we turned the spotlights onto the dark ocean waters, life came rushing towards the boat, squid over a foot in length darting in and out of the lights as blue and red dashes. A jellyfish the size of a beach ball floated by, and with presumably large mammals splashing in the waters around us, feasting on the organisms we were attracting.

A huge congrats to everyone completing our DOR manuscripts today! You know the voyage is coming to an end when you are running out of class work to complete. As the night comes to the end, so does my blog post.

Best wishes and Happy Holidays to everyone who has been following us!
Breezy

Ps. Hi Mom, Dad, and my furry kids!! Love and miss you! Looking forward to seeing you soon!


Current Position: 41°44.7’S x 175.34.8’E
Weather: Sunny and 22°C
Sail Plan & Course/Speed: 
250°, <1 knot.  Heaved to for Scientific Squid Jigging

Posted 290 weeks ago

Rub-a-Dub-Dub Tons of Seabirds in the Tub!

Starting with midnight ships time (since that’s when at least one watch starts their day), we had a very successful bat at science! It never ceases to amaze me how alive the ocean surface is when half the world is sleeping. Our Mid Watch science deployment typically consists of a Neuston tow and a surface station, collecting mysterious sea creatures that come up to feed at the surface waters at night. Tonight we caught pipefish (see picture), flat fish larva, an ideal ctenophore specimen, a baby squid, as well as more jellyfish! We also caught a plentiful amount of zooplankton and other nekton. The organisms that we catch and study contribute to our biodiversity data, as well as multiple student projects that correlate species to bodies of water, determine the ocean’s health, and learn more about organism’s distribution.

Now getting to the four seasons of weather we experienced today. As the sun’s rays rose, reaching the ship, some of our shipmates woke up to a beautiful summer morning with calm glassy water. We were surrounded by tons of seabirds consisting of albatross, petrels, and gulls, all swimming around the ship happy as can be. It was warm enough to walk up on deck barefoot in a t-shirt. A few hours later, the winds started to pick up and summer quickly turned into spring as the rain began to fall. The rain didn’t last too long as it changed to snow for a while, just to remind us that it is winter back in the Northern Hemisphere. As the day came to an end, we entered fall, with the clouds starting to part and a cool wind at our backs. The sun painted a beautiful sunset before saying good night. Just another typical day out sailing in the South Pacific!

Oh yeah, we had a Nautical Science practical exam today, too. As much fun it is to live, work and do research aboard a beautiful tall ship, we occasionally have reminders that we are, in fact, still in school. The test consisted of us going thru the ship answering questions to demonstrate our knowledge on line handling, ships safety, proper log keeping, and navigation. With each seafaring day we get a little bit saltier, transitioning from students into mariners.

Thank you to everyone that has been following our journey, and sending love to my Mom, Dad, my fur balls and family and friends. I miss you all and wish you a wonderful holiday season and am looking forward to seeing everyone when I return in the New Year!

Best Wishes,
Breezy

Posted 292 weeks ago