TopKayaker.Net: Kayak Safety Articles

When paddling with others, few things are more frustrating than unprepared paddlers. It often means a late launch which can lead the whole group into bad paddling conditions, require a stretch of resources and even jepardise the safety of all concerned. Whether you paddle alone or in a group, let Bob's list help you be prepared. We've modified it a little to apply to general group paddling situations and added Tom Holtey's "Safe Kayaking Check List" to round out the lesson.

The Ten Responsibilities Of The Individual Paddler

1. Familiarize yourself with the Planned Paddle. Prepare yourself for conditions according to the rating assigned, and equip yourself with required and prudent personal safety equipment. Address any questions on these preparations to the Trip Leader.

2. Arrive at launch site as early as necessary for kayak and kayaker (this means you) to be rigged and ready to launch at the scheduled time, and to actively participate in car-pooling in advance of launch time.

3. Check in with the designated Trip Leader & sign a waiver if required.

4. Inform the Trip Leader of any limitations, intentions to deviate from the paddle plan, or other special situations (for example, the need to vary from the scheduled take-out).

5. Be responsible for briefing any non-member guests on the planned route(s), group paddling practices, and emergency procedures and signals, including the universal paddler SOS signal: paddle held vertically as high as possible.

6. Stay in sight or communications with at least one other paddler. If equipped with a VHF marine radio, monitor radio channel assigned by the Paddle Leader.

7. Don't paddle past the designated Lead paddler.

8. Keep the Trip leader informed of any special situations that arise during the paddle, either directly or by passing the word through the designated Sweep or other paddlers.

9. Have fun!

10. At the end of the paddle, check in with the Leader, which will relieve him or her of further accountability and officially end the paddle. Provide any feedback or suggestions, which may assist in planning future paddles. Courtesy of Bob Walls of Hui Wa'a Kaukahi, Honolulu, Hawaii

Safe Kayaking Check List

Compiled by Tom Holtey with John Enomoto and Joseph Hu

Carry as many of these devices as possible &


PRACTICE with them in a variety of weather conditions
so you can use this equipment no matter how bad it gets.


Always go with a buddy, and tell some one who cares where you are going,
what you are going to do and
when you will be back.

Plan ahead and

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