How to Kayak Safely: Weather & Boats
As summer unfolds people find themselves flocking to the great outdoors to unwind, and escape the heat. There is nothing better than a little outdoor therapy to reset the mind after a long work week. But with this yearly migration come some inherent dangers, this article will discuss some of the things you should be on the lookout for when on the water this summer.
Motorized watercraft (motorboats, yachts, tankers, etc) are much faster than a kayak, are usually less aware of your presence on the water, and can leave large waves which could capsize you if you don't know how to position yourself and paddle through.
Always keep an eye out for motorized boats and be realistic about how long it could take to cross open water where faster boats could be traveling and be on top of you very quickly. If in doubt, always paddle along the shoreline.
If a fast or large boat causes waves that are moving towards you, it's smart to turn your kayak towards the waves and paddle strongly through them. Paddling parallel to waves can cause you to capsize.
More things to keep in mind when you're on waters with motorized boats:
- Always follow the boating rules of the area you're in.
- Most importantly, WEAR YOUR PERSONAL FLOATATION DEVICE (PFD). Should you go overboard, wearing your lifejacket will help keep your head above water and add insulation to your body, keeping you warmer in cold water. Buy a PFD that fits you well, and always wear it while you paddle.
Bad weather can come on quickly and make it unsafe to be on the water, as well as ruin a fishing day. Always check the weather reports before you head out to the water. Wind can make choppy waves that can be flip your kayak. Fog can easily turn you around and the low visibility can cause motorized boats to hit you without warning. If you see a thunderstorm, get off the water immediately. Put your fishing rods down in your kayak so they don't act as lightning rods. Rain is usually just a hassle unless it's cold, and then it can be hazardous. A backup waterproof rain jacket kept in your fishing kayak's storage hatch can be a good thing.
Here are some additional tips for dealing with adverse weather while on the water:
- If paddling on cold water, a dry suit or wet suit can keep you both warm and comfortable. In warmer weather, a long-sleeve shirt can provide sun protection, as can a 'sun jammer' for neck protection.
- Beware of off-shore winds that make it difficult to return to shore.