Personal Safety for Kayakers

Remember you have to make the final decision about getting onto the water on any given day and if in doubt, DON’T GO OUT!

1. Safety Equipment

• PFD - Lifejacket must be the correct weight for the paddler and it must fit properly.
• Useful to have one with pockets to carry a whistle and other bits and pieces. (Knife, chocolate bar, compass, Mobile phone, etc) but don’t make it too heavy
• VHF must be carried by all members
Appropriate clothing, safety gear  etc
• Layering is best due to changing weather conditions out on the water.
• Good waterproof outfit with some thermal gear underneath is advisable for cooler weather.
• Booties to keep the feet warm also to protect feet
• Headgear - high visibility cap French Foreign legion style neck and face protection is ideal. A cap or beanie can be worn underneath in colder conditions.
• Brightly coloured flag
• Eye protection against the sun and splashes is also a must.
• A signaling mirror in the form of an old CD, not DVD is useful
• Night kayaking an all round white light is required recommended min 1m above deck of kayak
• A tow line
• Paddle leash is an essential item
• Sufficient liquids and snacks should always be on board in case needed for a while longer than you anticipated
• Protection from the sun in the form of sunscreens, hats and long sleeved or legged clothing
• If club is going to a remote place a mini survival pack with say lightweight thermals, extra high energy foods, liquids, rescue blanket, first aid kit etc.
• GPS can give useful information should you need to be found
• A waterproof torch is always handy to have as well.
• Hook Extraction hints - don't try to pull it back out - the barb will tear you to pieces.  If you have no other choice than to remove the hook, use your pointy-nose pliers to push it forward and direct it out until the point is through your skin.  Use the wire cutters to cut off the hook's eye and then pull the hook the rest of the way through.

2. Keeping in touch

• Any form of communication equipment is better than nothing.
• Marine VHF radio is preferred.
• Mobile phones are one person to one person Identification so not as useful as a VHF.
• Always carry a form of identification on your person.
• Mark your kayak with your name address and contact number. A felt pen in a place such as inside the cockpit is ideal.
• Tell someone of your destination and expected trip time and estimated time of return
• Avoid alcohol

3. Trip Planning

• Duration
• Distance
• Landing and Facilities
• Fitness of group
• Suitability of the kayaks in the group for the trip
• Information from Charts - make use of charts of the area so you will be familiar with the lay of the land, depth of the water, whereabouts of rocks and reefs and currents in the area.
• Tides and the wind directions on the day.
• Buddy up with someone if possible
• Let the Coastguard know when, where and numbers attending trip and inform them of return.

4. Wind, weather forecasts and hazards

• Wind is probably our greatest enemy when kayaking.
• Weather conditions can rapidly change on the water. Keep watch of the conditions and how they will affect your return trip
• If paddling into a wind and getting nowhere, head for shelter and wait out the wind.
• Beware of strong offshore winds,
• When drift fishing always keep checking on how far out you are
• Side on winds can cause you to drift off course so if paddling towards land, it may be a better option to make the land first, then paddle towards your destination, it may even be possible to walk along the waterline pulling your kayak along by the towline.
• Wind direction and speed can be variable due to surrounding land formations
• Wind against tide can also cause sharp-faced waves and choppy seas.
• Weather forecast should always be consulted so you are aware of the visibility expected, bearing in mind rain shortens visibility drastically, temperatures and wind speeds. Internet, radio broadcasts, newspapers and marine VHF radio are all sources for this. The Metservice on the internet is a very good source. Click Here
• Tide also affects sea state considerably, particularly wind against tide
• You have the final say if you go out or not so if your not comfortable on the day don’t go

5. Rules of the road

• Kayakers must always make every effort to be seen. Better to look like a roman candle than to be ground up by a boat prop.
• Kayaks like all other vessels on the water are required to obey the rules of the road and a good lookout for other vessels must always be kept.
Powered vessels should always give way to vessels powered by paddle or oar, but we have to be seen first before this will happen.
• Sail vs paddle is unclear, but it is advisable for the kayaker to get clear well ahead of time. Always be aware and even better try and avoid areas where water skiing, jet skis, ships, ferries and other vessels operate.
• In Narrow channels always try and keep to the starboard or right hand side.
• In periods of little light you should also learn to recognize how vessel lights work so you know in which direction they are traveling.
• When fishing in the Auckland area please ensure you comply with the ARC visibility of Kayak bylaw (refer to EAKFC for details)ARC Bylaw ~ Visibility of kayaks and paddle craft

Effective from 1 July 2008

Clause 2.17 Auckland Regional Council Navigation Safety Bylaw 2008

1. Every kayak and paddle craft that is navigating in waters beyond 200 metres from shore shall ensure they are highly visible to other vessels. This shall include:

(a) wearing a high visibility vest or high visibility PFD; and

(b) use of reflecting tape on oars or paddles and also on clothing; and

(c) at night, showing a continuous white light visible in all directions from a distance of two nautical miles.

6. Trip Safety Rules

• Members must complete a Trip Plan Form if you are participating in the trip.
• If possible cancellation of trip will be made the night before the event, the organiser will send out an email and also post on facebook.
• The trip registration form is on the club web site.This needs to be completed prior to the close of date and time as noted for the trip(on the website and posted on facebook).
• All members attending trips must have a VHF radio.
• Members are also asked to stay in sight of each other, buddy up or in radio contact.
• If you leave early please let the Trip Coordinator know either by VHF radio or a Txt msg.
• Weigh in time/s will be noted in the email or FB posts.