Sea kayaking, Water safety rules

Sea kayaking, like any other life activity, is not safe. When you leave your home, you should remember: outside you are faced with a dangerous and aggressive environment. Be careful!

The basic safety rules for kayaking are quite simple. Despite this, the following rules must be observed regardless of the gender, age, experience and physical fitness of the paddler

  1. Wear a life jacket ALWAYS, even if the weather conditions are favorable, the water is warm, and you are a swimming master.
  2. When getting into a kayak, check that all fasteners, zippers, elastic bands are not damaged and perform their function
  3. Check the paddle link if any (a cord that attaches the paddle to the kayak hull, to avoid losing the first).
  4. Make sure you have enough water and food
  5. Do not forget to wear a headgear and take sunglasses with you in the summer months.
  6. Before leaving, study the weather forecast in the swimming area. If you go alone, tell someone where you are going
  7. Do not go far from the shore
  8. Do not swim close to the rocks to avoid rockfall
  9. Study the dangerous places in the swimming area, landmarks and possible land areas for emergency evacuation
  10. In the dark, be sure to turn on the flashlight so that the surrounding vessels can see your location
  11. Try not to go out alone. If you go in a group, try to stay within hearing and visibility.
  12. Always calculate your strength when choosing a route
  13. In any situation, avoid panic, keep a cool mind.
  14. In a life-threatening situation, save yourself, not the equipment.
  15. In case of danger, know how to properly signal SOS

For beginners in kayaking

Beginners in kayaking are advised to seek the help of more experienced people or instructors, in order to complete a basic training course. For outings, it is better to use the most favorable weather conditions in the absence of wind and waves. With the help of an instructor, it will be much easier to learn the correct technique of paddling, turning, starting in conditions of strong surf, as well as self-rescue techniques when capsizing.

The most common mistakes among beginners are underestimating the weather conditions and overestimating their own abilities.

The first steps in learning are ideally done in a group of experienced comrades or under the supervision of an instructor.

Rules for whitewater kayaking

Whitewater kayaking is one of the most potentially dangerous sports, which is in the TOP 5 in terms of danger

Unlike sea kayaking, whitewater kayaking carries more risks, as the dynamics of the river flow leaves less time for calculating the trajectory of movement and hides such dangers as whirlpools, rapids, rocks sticking out of the water, trees and narrow passages between stones, where you can simply get stuck.

All rivers are classified by categories of difficulty (from 1 to 6) depending on these factors

The requirements for kayakers on rough water are higher than for sea kayaking, and in general they have some differences

  1. Protective helmet and in some cases hand protection are mandatory for whitewater kayaking equipment.
  2. The river route is studied in advance and walked along the shore, in order to study the dangerous places
  3. A team with special equipment is required to pass the dangerous sections
  4. You need to master the self-rescue techniques, the main one of which is the “Eskimo roll”

And now let’s talk in detail about your safety

Safety or life jacket, what is it for, and why is it given so much importance

People often drown in an unconscious state or flip over on a kayak in a turbulent current. These situations happen for different reasons, but the result is the same. Often, the vest is found separately from the person who simply took it off, neglecting safety measures.

Often these cases occur because of:

  • Hitting a stone in the body or head when under rocks during a rockfall
  • Sunstroke
  • Flipping the boat in a strong current
  • Getting into a whirlpool

In addition, the vest serves as a kind of warming clothing. Its foamed filling does not allow the body to lose heat, slowing down hypothermia. The vest also allows you to manipulate the kayak quite effectively while in the water (draining water, flipping the kayak on an even keel, helping comrades) as it allows you to maintain positive buoyancy in the water.

ALWAYS wear a vest

Always study the weather forecast before going out

More than 90 percent of accidents in sea kayaking occurred in unfavorable weather conditions and incorrect actions of participants in the prevailing weather situation. Always remember that weather conditions can change rapidly. Monitor changes in pressure, wind direction and strength, as well as tide and ebb. Study the meteorological signs of deteriorating weather, so that you can predict them.

Know how to give sound signals and SOS signal

This is a very important point, as many beginners in kayaking were mistaken, thinking that they could drown out the whistle of the wind and the noise of the waves, but weather factors and distance reduced their futile efforts to nothing.

By nature, the signals given can be divided into visual, sound and radio signals

A) Visual signals

The simplest visual signal of distress in kayaking can be considered a paddle raised up, preferably with a bright piece of material tied to the blade. If you have signal flares or rocket launchers – use them.

B) Sound

A simple and cheap way to give a loud sound signal is a regular high-frequency whistle, which can be bought in any store. If you go in a group – you can agree on conditional signals (for example: one whistle – wait, two whistles – moor, etc.) A more advanced version of the whistle is the so-called “fan horn” with a balloon, where compressed air is pumped.

C) Radio signals

If you have a VHF / UHF radio – this can greatly simplify communication in your group. In addition, radios are a good means of warning about bad weather conditions from the captains of nearby vessels. Radio communication at sea is carried out on channel 16.

Do not neglect the proper clothing

Clothing for kayaking is a very important part of the equipment.

You must have a set of storm clothing in case of bad weather and a set of summer clothing in case of hot weather

Storm clothing can include a waterproof jacket and pants, with tight-fitting cuffs and thermal underwear made of synthetic, which even wet does not allow the body to lose heat.

Summer clothing is usually represented by a shirt with long sleeves, a headgear (preferably a hat with fields) and sunglasses. You should wear clothing that covers the maximum area of the body, preventing sunburn. Cover all open areas of the body with a thick layer of sunscreen. On the water, the skin burns much faster than on land.

The best choice of footwear is reef slippers, which will protect your feet from damage by sharp stones and shells in the water. High neoprene boots, which are used for diving, are also suitable.

Take the necessary equipment for kayaking

The necessary equipment is:

“Carrot” (a rope 20-30 m long, laid in a special case for throwing) A scoop or pump for pumping water out of the cockpit (sometimes this can be done with a large sponge) Dry bag for dry things and photo equipment (waterproof packaging, in which you can put a first aid kit, dry things, matches, etc.) Spare folding paddle (this is especially relevant for long crossings) Personal first aid kit Water bottle Means of giving a distress signal (smoke flare, false fire, whistle, etc.) Repair kit for kayak repair If you use a seat-in kayak – use a Skirt (Apron or Sprayhood) – which will protect your cockpit from water and cold, and save your kayak from capsizing.

6) Properly distribute the load in the kayak

When loading the kayak, distribute the weight evenly by compartments. Remember – that the lightest part of the kayak is the nose, in a strong wind the nose will constantly go downwind, and the kayak will “sniff” with its nose. In this case, it will not be superfluous to load the nose, to increase the draft of the nose part. But if you go on a wave, excessive loading of the nose part can increase the burying of the nose in the wave, and when the kayak on a steep wave “pecks” with its nose in the bend of the wave. This often leads to capsizing.

If you are not confident in the conditions of high waves – just load the kayak with stones, for ballast. This will create a semblance of a keel, and give the kayak stability.

A few more tips that can help you avoid unpleasant situations and enjoy kayaking.

Do not forget about your physical condition and level of preparation. Do not choose too difficult or long routes if you are not sure of your strength. Monitor your pulse, breathing and hydration. If you feel tired, dizzy, nauseous or other symptoms of malaise, immediately inform your comrades and stop paddling.

Rest on the shore or in the shade, drink water and try to recover. Do not overestimate your skills and experience. If you are a beginner in kayaking, do not try to overcome difficult rapids, whirlpools or strong surf right away. It is better to start with more calm and safe water areas, where you can hone your technique of paddling, turning, starting and stopping.

It is also important to learn how to properly perform the Eskimo roll, which allows you to restore the balance of the kayak after capsizing. This is one of the most important and difficult techniques in kayaking, which requires a lot of practice and confidence. Do not hesitate to ask for help from more experienced kayakers or instructors if you do not know how to do the Eskimo roll or do not feel comfortable in an inverted position. Do not forget about your equipment and equipment.

Before each exit to the water, check the condition of your kayak, paddle, vest, helmet, clothing and other items that you take with you. Make sure that all fasteners, zippers, elastic bands, cords and other details work properly and are not damaged. If you notice any defects, try to fix them or replace the equipment. Do not risk your safety because of poor quality or faulty equipment.

Also do not forget to take spare things with you, such as a second paddle, repair kit, first aid kit, signal means, phone, radio, map, compass, flashlight, knife, matches, blanket, drinking water and food. This may come in handy in case of an accident, breakdown, loss or stuck.

Do not violate the rules and norms of behavior on the water. As on the road, on the water there are certain rules and signals that you need to follow and know. This will help you avoid collisions, conflicts and misunderstandings with other participants of water traffic, such as vessels, boats, boats, yachts, water motorcycles, surfers, swimmers, etc.

Do not interfere with others, do not violate the speed limit, do not swim too close to the shore, do not enter prohibited areas, do not pollute the water and the shore. Try to be polite, friendly and respectful to the people and nature around you.

Read Also:

  1. 8 Reasons to Get Paddling
  2. Your First Steps in Kayaking
  3. Mastering Streamer Fly-Fishing for Trophy Trout: A Comprehensive Guide”

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