Kayaks and powerboats operate on the same waters, sharing common problems and conditions. Collisions or accidents are possible when these two groups interact on the water. Many problems are avoidable. Operators from each group need to share some understanding of the other’s limitations and capabilities. This article addresses what powerboaters and kayakers of even good kayak brands should know about each other.
Kayakers should know that it is often very difficult to see them. This is especially true of larger powerboats like commercial fishing vessels that are higher off the surface of the water. Environmental conditions like the sun or fog can make the problem even worse. Even the good kayak brands units are not readily visible on a ship’s radar. This partly due to the construction material used in building kayaks (Kevlar, fiberglass, polyethylene and wood) and the fact that kayaks images will be cluttered by wave return on the radar. Many powerboat operators are oblivious to the wake their boat generates or the damage a wake can cause.
Powerboaters should know that kayakers are carrying substantial loads on their craft. A fully loaded kayak can weigh several hundred pounds and is easily swamped or damaged near shore by a wake. Kayakers travel near shore and can strike by the same wake twice. Wakes rebound off of beaches and are directly reflected back toward the water. A powerboat passing too closely to a kayak can cause it to capsize. The kayaker needs sufficient time to turn their bow directly into an approaching wake. Even the good kayak brands are often more difficult to maneuver in poor weather, as compared to powerboats. They should be granted a wide berth.
Powerboat and kayak operators in Prince William Sound have developed some guidelines for safe interoperation. A prudent mariner will not depend on these suggestions alone, but add them to their toolkit for traveling on the water. These guidelines can offer help to watercraft operators in other areas.
Guidelines for Kayakers
Do anything you can to increase your visibility. This can include flying flags, installing retro-reflective tape and wearing bright clothing even if you are riding on good kayak brands.
Safety basic safety equipment. Consider having a VHF radio in a waterproof pouch, spare batteries, distress flares and a first-aid fit.
Avoid landings in the surf zone of a beach when there is a chance of being waked by a powerboat. Avoid operating in narrow channels that have fast currents and wind. These conditions can make it difficult to maneuver away from wakes.
Avoid kayaking into an unfamiliar area without a chart or guide. Travel in groups to improve your visibility and leave a float plan at your local marina
Avoid or quickly transit hazardous areas like reefs, marina entrance channels and blind corners
Guidelines for Powerboaters
Maintain a watch for kayakers, especially when traveling in hazardous areas. Reduce speed in conditions of poor visibility
Leave enough room when approaching a kayak to allow room to maneuver. Avoid running close to shore, an area favored by kayaks
Leave a float plan for your trip at the local marina
How To Choose a Good Kayak Brands Paddle
Kayak paddles have a blade at each end. They come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes and can be made from many different materials.
Plastic Paddles: Most beginner paddles have plastic blades. They are inexpensive and durable. However, they are heavy and can be difficult to use when compared to lighter, more expensive paddles.
Wooden Paddles: Wooden paddles are fairly heavy and will require a moderate amount of maintenance. The varnish on the paddles will need to be maintained otherwise the paddles will soak up water and become damaged.
Carbon or Fiberglass Paddles: Carbon and fiberglass paddles are lightweight and strong, but are very expensive. These paddles are stiff and can help the kayaker develop a more powerful stroke.
Parts of the Paddle
Paddle Blades: Paddle blades can be symmetrical or asymmetrical. Asymmetrical blades, generally used for touring or racing, enter the water more cleanly when paddling forward. Large symmetrical paddles can power through the water quickly and are best suited for beginners. The feather is used to describe the angle (how much the blades are twisted) between the two blades on a kayak paddle. Some paddlers find it easier to combat wind resistance against the blade when paddling, while others find using a feathered paddle unnatural.
Paddle Shaft: Most paddle shafts are round. Some are oval or have grips so that the paddler can feel which way the blade is facing. Some of the more expensive paddles have bent shafts that put less emphasis on wrist movement. The majority of paddles are split, meaning that they break down into two pieces for easy storage.
Choosing a Paddle
Knowing the paddling style of the kayaker will help in choosing a paddle.
Low Angle: Most recreational or touring kayakers use a low angle paddle stroke. These paddles will have longer, narrower blades. The blade that has a raised center line and two sides sloping away from the center makes paddle easier to pull through the water.
High Angle: More aggressive kayakers will use a high angle paddle stroke which propels the kayak forward more efficiently. These paddles are shorter and have shorter, wider blades.
Other important factors to consider when choosing a paddle include the width of the boat, the kayaker’s body size and strength. A wider boat or a sit-on kayak will require a longer paddle. The taller the kayaker, the longer the paddle will be. Also, a heavier or stronger kayaker will require larger blades.
Take time to choose from the good kayak brands only to make time on the water more comfortable and more enjoyable.