Important points before you cast off
Checking your kayak
Each time you use your kayak you should first check each of the following items:
Visually inspect the deck and hull to ensure that your kayak is free from cracks or other apparent signs of damage. If you are on an expedition and notice a crack, fill it with chewing gum and cover it with a strip of duct tape. Such repairs are temporary, and you should have your kayak repaired properly when you return home.
Ensure that the rudder or skeg is operating correctly and that the blade is in good condition.
Ensure that sand and salt are not obstructing the mechanisms.
Make sure that theSpectra® cord is in good condition, if you have steel cables, they should be rust-free.
Make sure that pedal and cover straps are not worn or frayed. A spare cord can always provide a temporary fix.
Check that straps properly close compartments and that rubber seals under the covers are clean and in good repair.
Ensure that all screws are tight and that no o-rings are missing.
Finally, and above all, enjoy your outing!
Don't depart without all you gear
Check with your Maritime Authority for local regulations on the safety requirements you need when on the water. As a general rule you should have the following minimum amount of safety gear -
- A PFD (personal floatation device)
- A 15-meter floating line (around 50')
- A whistle or other sound-signalling device
- A bailer or pump
- A spare paddle
First Aid Kit
A first aid kit should always be close by while sea kayaking, whether it's simply used to treat a blister or used in the case of a major emergency, your kit will undoubtably be useful. Here is our suggestion for a kayaker first aid kit.
Since kayakers are often far from emergency services, we also recommand that you take a first and CPR course to be able to react effectively in case you do find yourselve in a incident.
Choose the right Clothing
First check the weather forecast. Then check the temperature of the water where you plan to paddle. This information, combined with your experience, should allow you to make an appropriate choice of clothing.
Multilayered clothing (several layers of thin garments made of synthetic materials) is very comfortable. Never wear cotton garments which can become waterlogged and take a long time to dry. Wool, however, is an interesting option because it will keep you warm, even when wet. Take special care of your feet. They are the first part of your body in contact with water. Neoprene booties or neoprene socks are sure to improve your day!
Make safety your priority. Safety begins with three basic notions:
Know how to recover in all conditions.
Master the use of your kayak.
Have all necessary equipment aboard for safe navigation.
Know how to recover
Recovery is not as hard as you may think. All you have to do is learn the technique and then practice it. If you are a beginner, we recommend that you enroll in Kayak / Canoe Lesson with a professional.
He or she will teach you how to get in and out of the kayak, how to recover and a host of other ingenious tricks. Practice is the secret to success.
Believe us when we say that the day you are faced with an emergency, you won't regret having learned the recovery technique and how to immediately put it into practice. A few seconds can sometimes make all the difference in the world.
Master the use of your kayak
Really get to know your kayak! When your adjustments are perfect and you have paddled a few strokes, take the time to test the performance and limits of your kayak.
Experiment with the stability and practice bracing. Fine tune your turns and get to know how your kayak reacts to different types of wind and wave conditions. We recommend that you practice new moves in calm waters.
Hypothermia is among the most insidious dangers of sea kayaking. This is why it is so important to be properly clothed, fed and hydrated, and to know when to rest to minimize risks.
What are the first signs of hypothermia?
- Uncontrollable shivering
- Decreased manual dexterity
- Difficulty speaking
- Loss of balance
- No more shivering, false sense of warmth
- Listlessness, then unconsciousness.
How to react?
The first thing is to get the victim out of the present situation (in the water, exposed to wind or other factors).
Remove the victim's wet clothing and replace it with warm, dry clothing.
Offer the victim a hot and sweet drink containing neither caffeine nor alcohol. Hydration is very important.
If possible, have the victim move about to warm up.
If the victim is prostrate, place him or her in a sleeping bag to retain body heat. Do not warm the victim up too quickly. Instead, proceed gradually. If the situation stabilizes, offer the victim foodstuffs rich in carbohydrates and sugar, such as cereal bars, dried fruit, nuts, honey, etc.
Good food and proper rest are recommended before venturing out on the water once again.
A victim with advanced hypothermia should be evacuated as quickly as possible to a hospital or other location for appropriate treatment.