Through the past days we have had the unfortunate news of hearing about a lot of kayaking accidents and problems that have happened while kayaking. The first was Sinaloa, Mexico, near the Pacific Ocean, where a father and his son who were leasing a kayak came too close to the breakers and the kayak capsized with its occupants thrown by the force of the waves against the rocks. The son climbed over the rocks and was saved. However, the father remained unconscious and it became impossible to save him.
The second incident I read about occurred on the shores in South Africa were at the time of writing this article. They have yet to find the missing kayak or after two weeks of intensive searching and whose kayak was found empty. Presumably the kayaker had no lifejacket when this occurred.
When you’re sea kayaking you have to take into account that it is a dangerous sport. Trying to walk is definitely not a dangerous activity, but when you decide to go across the highway without looking each way. There is obviously a risk. It is with this exact same premise that kayaking becomes more dangerous and risky and a combination of the activity with little or no safety considerations can lead to fatal disaster.
Doing sports in the outdoors. In general, has some sort of risk level, especially when the sports is in a water environment and particularly sea kayaking carries dangers with it. In a placid lake and calm conditions kayaking is not very dangerous. However, this can induce a false sense of security and control for the kayaker.
Even with every security consideration in place. The ocean is hard to manage and the conditions of the ocean, especially if you’re in a remote location or a few hundred meters within can definitely cause problems. Things like wind can increase danger without warning and waves can become larger and wash over us. The water does not sympathize with what clothing we are wearing, or whether or not we have a lifejacket on.
Unfortunately, accidents do occur. So we need to take a look at the main causes of these accidents? Is it the fact that people are neglecting safety precautions? Is it the fact that people are being reckless? Yes. Sometimes these are the reasons. However, I’m more inclined to take into consideration the lack of education. Yes that’s correct, you heard me right, the lack of education about the dangers of the sea, the dangerous areas, and about changing conditions and lack of security measures on how to proceed during emergency.
So who becomes the person in charge of keeping you safe? Is it the Navy? Is it the province or state? Is that the company that leases the kayaks to you? No, the responsibility lies primarily on you. The kayaker you are responsible for keeping yourself, and anyone underage that goes with you safe and you should know how to take care of yourself when you go out. The state or province can help by launching educational campaigns and maybe putting up warning signs and danger signs for kayakers, but in the end, it’s your responsibility just like crossing the street.
Keeping this in mind were going to give you some tips to going kayaking on the ocean that hopefully can help you a bit and keep you safe.
You have to understand that the ocean can change and increase in power to even a level that can tip a boat over. This is not a place to learn how to kayak without a qualified instructor. If you go into this type of dangerous environment without proper instruction you have to do so with maximum precautions and in areas that are considered safe such as bays and coves which are far away from rapids and cliffs and rocks.
A sit on top kayak or recreational kayak is not a boat with a marine grade. It is not created to weather very hard conditions and it can be difficult to control. In changing ocean and wind conditions. When you’re taking coastal tours on bays or coves you can use an ocean kayak equipped with all kind of elements for security and this also applies the larger lakes.
You should always wear your lifejacket, including any necessary thermal protection in case you get emerged during cold conditions. Carrying a Marine band radio or a cell phone in case you need to ask for help can be a great idea. If you need to carry this you can put it in a couple of Ziploc bags to make sure no water gets on it.
You should avoid going on solo trips into the ocean. A minimum of three kayakers is recommended in case of a long trip you can give some notice to the Mayor’s office or the nearest captain over your routes including your members and return time for a just in case situation.
You should search for a competent instructor that works according to your level and is willing to teach you all of the basics. There is no better time invested or money invested then to take a course that will keep you safe in the future.
You should find out the weather and sea conditions before you go out and you should not go out to open sea without first knowing what conditions to expect and what you should bring along in case of an accident.
We have a meteorology guide here at kayakerguide.com that you can access for some more learning on meteorology conditions.
Lastly, we recommend joining a club where you and find out how to learn and go out and share with other people. The world of kayaking is an amazing one but we recommend you do it safely hopefully some of this knowledge has helped you in making a better decision on what equipment and what mental notes to make when going out.
Bonus: Infographic of paddlesports safety from 2006 to 2013