Occy's Safety Tips - or a Prudent Kayaker's Safety Check List

Before you set out on that next kayak fishing adventure you might like to consider the following safety tips. No doubt others will be able to add to the list but at least it’s a start.

These tips could just save your life:

  • Always dress for water temperature not air temperature. This might sound odd to some people who paddle their yak in hotter climes but the cold is a killer. Layer up for cold water.
  • Always have a suitable knife within easy reach for quick use.
  • Get yourself a whistle, air horn or both and attach it to your PFD with a small lanyard.
  • If traveling off shore a signaling mirror and compass in the pocket of your PFD, along with your whistle, is a good idea.
  • "Leash it or lose it". Leash your gear, including your paddle.
  • Be seen, attach a flag to a mast during the day, and make sure you have an appropriate light for night conditions. A flashlight will usually meet the requirement and is always good to have on hand anyway.
  • Keep a length of rope handy as you just never know when you will need it.
  • Always carry either a radio (UHF or VHF) or mobile phone (in a waterproof pouch) clipped to you and not the yak.
  • Take and use your sunscreen and some insect repellent if necessary
  • Carry WATER and some high-energy bars for when your stomach starts growling.
  • Wear sunglasses on a floating strap so you don’t lose them overboard
  • Learning to re-enter your yak after you take a dip is the most important lesson you will ever learn. Practice during warmer weather from different locations on your yak (from the bow, stern, and both sides of the cockpit).
  • Make sure your car keys are on a float and your remote in a dry bag. You don’t want to be stuck at the launch spot with a car you can’t open or start. Leave your house keys in the car
  • Have a dry sack of extra clothing and a towel stuffed inside your hatch.
  • Always take some footwear (thongs or Crocs are ideal) for those occasions when you want to get out of your yak
  • Things are much more distant than they appear to be when paddling/pedaling a kayak. When you get to where you think you are going you may be only half way there.
  • Always check the marine forecast before heading off.
  • Be aware of and understand the effects of tide, a following sea, current, and wind.
  • Make a trip plan (where you are launching from, where you will be, and what time you will be home), and stick to it. Hang it on the fridge or give a copy to your neighbour/friend/family member.
  • Use the buddy system, especially for newbies or if you are in unfamiliar waters.
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