This is a fast growing sport and whist many participants undertake plenty of training and ensure they carry all the relevant safety equipment, there has been a significant increase in more casual users taking up kayaking and canoeing. To ensure you stay safe whilst enjoying your paddling experience here are some basic tips and recommendations.
Tor Bay Harbour Authority welcomes all participants but we would prefer that you did not launch from the shipways in the enclosed harbours because the entrances get very congested. Your safety is our concern.
Be Prepared - always...
Undertake suitable training in how to use all of your equipment.
Learn and practice techniques to get back onboard your kayak should you capsize.
Ensure you are a confident swimmer and can swim a minimum of 50m in the sea.
Ensure your kayak and equipment are well maintained and ready for the water – check the hatches and drain plugs are secure and watertight, paddle is in good condition, seat is firmly
attached and all gear secured safely.
Wear a suitable approved personal flotation device (PFD).
Ensure your pfd fits correctly and all the straps are done up securely and use crotch straps if fitted.
Wear suitable clothing for the season and conditions, such as a suitable wetsuit/dry suit and layered clothing; wear a hat and gloves in cold conditions.
Carry a suitable means of calling for help (waterproof and fully charged VHF radio or flares).
Take a drink and snack with you (energy bars, dried fruit, nuts, chocolate).
Check the weather and tides before you depart - be aware of wind strength, especially offshore winds (where the wind is blowing out to sea).
Paddle in a group, where possible.
Tell someone back on land where you are going and what time you will be back. Advise the Coastguard of your planned journey.
Do not overload your kayak with fishing kit – it is harder than you think to right a kayak with lots of kit on deck.
Navigation aids, rod holders and other equipment should never be on deck when surfing or landing in surf due to the risk that they may get lost or cause injury.
Anchors should only be used in areas with little or no current – a capsize while at anchor, especially if you are not attached to the kayak, will result in your becoming separated from the kayak even when there is only a small current running.
What to do if you get in trouble or capsize
Call for help using your VHF radio, flares or both.
If you fall in, remember to keep a tight grip on the paddle - on a sit-on-top kayak this should be leashed to your kayak.
Never attempt to swim to shore, always stay with your kayak; by staying with the kayak you make a larger target for the search and rescue groups to see.
Even if you can only get your body partially out of the water you will significantly increase your survival time.
While it’s tempting to self-rescue by swimming for it, it has to be your very last option.