Almost anyone can enjoy a day out with a kayak or a rowboat, particularly in inland waters. It’s not the type of vessel that requires any special qualifications to use. Once you get used to the rowing or paddling action, you’re all set for some fun in the sun. However, there are a few safety tips you need to know before you set out.
- Check the Weather Forecast with Special Attention to Wind Direction and Speed
From the shore, a lake or river on a windy day merely looks pretty. From a small boat, it can rapidly become a scary experience. Even a relatively light wind can affect the way your boat moves, and once the wind starts whipping up waves, even a small one can swamp your kayak or rowboat.
If you aren’t an experienced paddler, you can consider yourself safe when wind speeds are under 11knots or 19km per hour. A skilled paddler can get by in stronger winds.
Wind direction influences how hard it will be to paddle or row from one place to another. Given that you may be getting tired by the time you return, it’s best to keep the wind behind you for an easier return to shore.
- Bring Along a Cell Phone and ID in a Waterproof Case
Although you’re certainly not expecting anything to go wrong, it’s a good idea to be prepared. A working cell phone could save you a lot of worry and discomfort if an emergency were to arise. Be sure it has a full charge and use a waterproof case to keep it working in the wet.
- Have A Plan
Kayaks and, to a lesser extent, rowboats, can capsize. If you have some experience, you may already know how to handle a capsize. If you don’t, ask the boat owner if he or she will be willing to let you try a capsize recovery under supervision especially if you are hiring one of the narrower-profile kayaks.
However, with a relatively stable canoe or rowboat, it should be enough just to have a plan. Kids and any adults who are weak swimmers should wear life jackets, and everyone should be instructed to remain near the boat if it overturns.
- Use the Buddy System
If you’re an inexperienced rower or paddler, considering going in a group with more than one boat. It’s not that paddling or rowing are terribly dangerous, but the buddy system can work in your favour if you do end up in difficulties. The same would be true of any outdoor activity – even setting out on a hiking trail. Besides, everything’s more fun with friends!
- Inspect your Boat Thoroughly Before Launch
Who wants to set out in a leaky boat? Not You! Problems could range from the minor inconvenience of getting wet to the boat getting bogged down far from the shore. To be on the safe side, ensure that your boat’s hull and deck are well-maintained and free from any breaches. Your paddles or oars must also be in a serviceable condition.
Remember, if you’re planning to go out on open water, there’s a great deal more to attend to. In most offshore waters, it’s best to have a good deal of experience, and you need to be aware of more hazards. Try using this checklist if in doubt.
Staying Safe Ensures You Have a Good Time
Ultimately, you will be hiring a rowboat, canoe or kayak so that you can have a good time. Take a little time to plan for any unusual occurrences, and you’re guaranteed lots of fun and pleasant memories. Now get out there and enjoy yourself.