Kayaking and canoeing are very popular activities and our harbours and waterways are becoming increasingly busy with people participating in a variety of activities, from fishing, to diving to simply sightseeing.

Incidents and accidents with other harbour users are increasing and because of their low visibility kayakers and canoeists must make themselves as visible as possible, both during the day and at night.

Here are some recommendations to help increase the safety of yourself and others on the water:

Visbility tips:

  • Your head is the highest point so make it as visible as possible – wear a fluoro orange or yellow hat
  • Place reflective strips on your paddles – increasing your visibility during motion
  • Wear a brightly coloured PFD (personal flotation device)
  • Mount a pole at the rear to carry a high visibility flag
  • Chose a craft with a bright colour – in contrasting to the water – and add strips of reflective tape to it
  • Maritime law requires you to at least carry a torch to prevent collision, however a rear mounted all-round white light on a pole (above head height) is more effective and hands-free

General safety tips, always:

  • Wear a PFD (personal flotation device)
  • Carry at least two forms of communication (VHF radio, cellphone, flares) and carry them in a waterproof bag
  • Check weather forecasts and conditions before venturing out
  • Lodge a trip plan with a reliable person and let them know if you change your plans
  • As a vessel you are required to fly a diver’s flag (Code Flag A, no less than 600mmx600mm) if diving from your kayak (ref Maritime Rule 91)
  • Be aware of any Regional Council Harbourmaster Bylaws that apply to your activity

Coastguard Boating Education ‘Sea Kayak Module’

A short course (4hr) is now available from Coastguard Boating Education. It covers seak kayaks, equipment, communication, emergencies, planning, weather, rules and navigation. Further details at http://www.cbes.org.nz/courses/20/sea-kayak-module/

Visit these websites for further information:

Maritime New Zealand

Kiwi Association of Kayakers

Auckland Regional Harbourmaster ‘Rules and Regulations’

Environment Waikato

Image: Ian Calhaem