The essentials for safe paddling
Before heading out on the water, whether for a few hours in a recreational kayak, or several days in an expedition kayak, It is important to keep these six basic elements in mind:
- Canadian Approved Personal Flotation Device (PFD) appropriately sized for each person on board.
- Sound signaling device, such as a whistle (without ball, so that it works even when wet).
- Heaving line with buoy (15 meters long) to help someone who has fallen into the water.
- Spare paddle in case yours falls in the water (do not hesitate to equip yourself with a paddle strap to avoid this).
- Bailer or hand pump to remove water accumulated at the bottom of the boat.
- Waterproof flashlight to broadcast a light signal in the event of a problem after dark.
If you are going on a guided tour or renting a kayak from a shop, these items should all come with the craft. Make sure before you go on the water. To this it may be useful to add:
- a large sponge: to quickly absorb the water that would have entered your kayak with the waves or when you got into it.
- a neoprene skirt (for kayaks with a closed cockpit): to protect your lower body from the cold, the sun, the rain and the waves.
- a collapsible anchor (for fishing kayaks) for drift fishing or positioning yourself fixedly over a targeted area.
- a waterproof bag and/or case to store your personal belongings away from water (nautical chart, telephone, camera, picnic, etc.)
- a scupper plug to plug deck scuppers and prevent water from entering open cockpit kayaks.
- a paddle float to re-embark your kayak easily after a capsize. Recommended for kayaks with a closed cockpit at sea (far from a bank).
- a first aid kit, sunscreen and a bottle of water, three important items to always have with you, whatever outdoor activity you are doing.
Essentials for dressing for kayaking
Once you have properly equipped your kayak, you have to think about dressing optimally. The choice of clothing to bring will depend on the type of kayaking (recreational, sea, river, etc.) and the outings you wish to do (for a few hours on a calm body of water or several days of expedition on the river for example). In any case, here is a list of essentials:
- A neoprene suit to keep you warm despite the weather. Recommended for outings at sea or on a body of water with waves, on cooler days.
- A waterproof jacket, tight at the wrists and at the waist, to put over your suit or your clothes to stay dry in all circumstances. Recommended for outings at sea or on a body of water with waves, on rainy or windy days.
- A bathing suit to prevent your underwear from getting wet.
- Polyester or quick-drying sweater and pants with long sleeves to reduce sun exposure.
- A hat or cap to protect you from the sun, rain and UV rays, even on cloudy days.
- Neoprene water shoes to keep feet warm, even when wet.
- Neoprene gloves to avoid blisters related to the friction of the paddle in the hands.
- Sunglasses with protection for high UV indices. Do not hesitate to add a cord so as not to drop them in the water.
Essentials for transporting your kayak
Last step before going on an excursion with your kayak: transport it to your place of launching. To do this, several options are available to you depending on your vehicle:
- a kayak roof rack: J-shaped, very stable and safe, for a maximum of two kayaks, specific to each car model.
- an ideal trailer for transporting more than two kayaks, requires a trailer hitch system depending on the vehicle.
- straps and foam supports: the simplest and cheapest system but not necessarily the safest, interesting for very short transport distances only.
When you arrive at your destination, you have to put your kayak in the water. Some models are heavy and therefore difficult to carry. That is why there are trolleys, consisting of two wheels and a support bar. All you have to do is attach one side of the kayak to it and pull it up to launch. The wheels of the trolley allow less force and pass easily over rocks and roots.