Mandatory Accessories United States of America
In the United States boating regulations vary from state to state but on a national level the United States Coast Guard requires that:
- All recreational boats must carry one wearable PFD for each person aboard. The USCG divides PFD’s into 3 categories: type I: off shore type II: Near shore type III: flotation aid
- Your kayak must include a system to signal your presence such as flares, signal mirror or flashlight
- All recreational vessels, including kayaks, are required to display navigational lights between sunset and sunrise and during other periods of reduced visibility like fog, rain or haze.
- The USCG, working with affiliated local organizations, offers all small craft owners a free, annual Vessel Safety Check (VSC). An educational procedure, rather than an enforcement of the law, the VSC helps to increase the safety of everyone involved with small craft boating.
For more information on the United States Coast Guard Regulations visit: http://www.uscgboating.org
Choosing your Clothing When selecting what to wear, remember that your choice should be made on a combination of air AND water temperature. As with many outdoor activities you’ll want to use the layer system, wearing distinct layers of clothing rather than one or two thick layers. In all but the warmest conditions you’ll want your outermost layer to be made of a water and wind proof material. For your under layers, avoid clothes made out of cotton. Although comfortable off the water, when wet cotton offers no insulating value and is very slow to dry. Instead choose insulating clothing made of synthetic fibers. As well as wicking moisture away from your body, this system allows you to easily adapt to changing weather conditions.
If you are venturing offshore or may encounter turbulent water keep in mind the following rule of thumb: If the combined total of the air and the water temperature is under 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) you will want to wear a wet suit or drysuit.
- Wet suit Available in full suit, shorty and "farmer john" styles, a wet suit is composed of flexible 3 or 4mm neoprene that works by allowing a thin layer of water between your skin and the neoprene. This layer of water is warmed by your body and helps fend off hypothermia. A wet suit should be neither so tight that it causes restrictions of your movement, nor too loose that it allows water to run freely into and out of the suit.
- Dry suit/dry top Available in one or two piece versions, a dry suit uses water tight gaskets at the neck, wrist and ankles to keep you dry. A dry suits’ impermeable outer fabric does little to help insulation, instead allowing you to wear insulating layer underneath.
Adapt to changing weather conditions by carrying extra clothes in a dry bag and don’t forget a good hat to reduce your exposure to the sun.
Safety precautions Your personal safety, and the safety of your group, begins with you. Never paddle alone or stand up in a kayak. Be over cautious with children. Never allow minors to kayak without adult supervision. You’ll have the most enjoyable time possible if you choose a destination suitable for the abilities of your group. Make sure that even the least experienced paddler in your group is able to cover the distance you have chosen to paddle and always keep in mind that changing weather conditions, winds or currents can greatly alter the characteristics of your trip. Even the shortest excursion on the water can benefit from a minimal amount of planning so whether you’re headed out for a half hour or a couple of days take the time to ask yourself the following questions:
- What are the water conditions and are they liable to change?
- What is the weather forecast?
- Are their currents or winds we need to take into account?
- What is our exposure to the elements?
- Is there other vessel traffic on the waterway we should be aware of?
- Is our planned trip reasonable considering our group’s experience and abilities?
- Have we brought with us all of the essential equipment and accessories?
- Have we brought along enough water and energy rich food?
- Have we included warmer clothing in case the weather changes?
- Do I have a method to signal/communicate?
- And perhaps most importantly: HAVE I FILED A FLOAT PLAN?
When setting out, even if it’s just for a quick afternoon paddle, take a few minutes to file a float plan. Leave information on departure/arrival times, # of people in your group, planned destination and the color of your kayaks with a responsible friend. If setting out alone, leave an envelope with this information labeled FLOAT PLAN on the dashboard of your car. Play it safe, respect yourself and respect the water. Warning: failure to follow the above safety precautions may lead to serious injury or death. The use of alcohol or drugs will affect your judgment and coordination and impair your capacity to safely operate a kayak.
Kayaker’s Code of Ethics Kayaks allow us to experience the beauty of the water and explore areas virtually untouched by man. It is our responsibility to keep these areas pristine during and after our visit insuring our enjoyment, and that of other users, for generations to come. This kayaker’s code of ethics can serve as a general set of guidelines to help limit your impact on the paddling environment:
- Try to remain courteous at all times and respect fellow kayakers as well as other vessels. Offer your help to those is difficulty
- Respect private property
- Never camp on an island less than 60 meters wide or that serves as the home for a colony of birds or seals
- Wash should always be done away from the water, with a biodegradable soap. Do not wash anything (dishes, clothing or yourself) directly in the water.
- Use a stove rather than a fire for cooking your food
- Pack out all of your trash and verify that there is no trace of your visit before leaving your campsite.
- For their safety and yours, stay at least 200 meters away from wildlife. Reduce your noise level and speed when observing wild animals
Paddle on a small lake or river
This equipment is mandatory by law in Canada
Approved Personal Flotation Device (PFD)
Whistle attached to your PFD
Bilge pump or bailing scoop
Throw bag (15m)
Additional break-apart paddle
Map of your route in waterproof cover
Sunglasses with strap
Water and food
Topo map in waterproof cover
First Aid Kit
Watershoes or sandals
Shorts or pants
Long sleeve synthetic shirt
Water/wind proof shell
A spare set of clothes in the dry bag
For cold weather or cold water
Dry or wet suit
Fleece or woolen shirt
For a coastal or seafaring trip ADD
A kayak with a minimum length of 13’ (4 meters)
VHF or weather radio
Appropriate Distress flares
Compass of GPS
Nautical weather forecast
The basics listed, plus clothing for cold water
Neoprene gloves and booties
Beanie or head warmer
Keep in mind that even in summer the water is almost always colder than the air temperature
For an expedition of several days ADD
Tent and groundcloth
Kayak Repair Kit
Water purification method
Small cord 3mm x 20 m
Spare batteries and candles
Dry bags for all the material
Personal medications (if any)
Spare glasses or contact lenses
Plates, cups and utensils
Rigid storage container
Fleece or other synthetic shirt