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Old March 10th 04, 05:15 AM
Posts: n/a
Default Safety gear for using your kayak in the open ocean?

suds wrote:

"Peter" wrote in message
news:[email protected]_s53...
We carry a gps, cell phones, and a vhf, along with extra water but obviously
need more.

What is the group's opinion on various singling devices such as mirrors,
dyes, flares, strobes...?

If being swept out to sea is a possibility then one of the new Personal
Locator Beacons (PLBs) might be the thing to have despite the cost. They
work like EPIRBs but with shorter battery life and lower cost.

A friend of mine was looking into an EPIRB. I'm not as serious as him so I
don't feel the immediate need for such a cash outlay. Still, I do want to
have some basic protection. I was just wondering what peoples opinions on
the various options were.

I haven't been very impressed by the visibility of the usual distress
signal devices carried on kayaks. Flares and strobes look very bright at
night but aren't all that clear a signal during the daytime if you're
pretty far offshore, especially if visibility is impaired at all. They
also depend on there being people on shore or boats who see the signal and
recognize it as an emergency. The colored dye is effective at helping
searchers find you once they get close but it won't work to initiate the

There was a case a bit over a year ago of someone in a kayak off Hawaii who
was blown out to sea. Even though he was able to call the Coast Guard for
help on his cell phone it was still about two days before he was found.
One problem was that the batteries gave out fairly early in the search.

A PLB or redundant VHF radios seem to me more likely to be effective than
the visual distress signals.

Are you able to anchor your kayak so it can't get blown away while you're

We tow the kayaks behind us as you would a dive flag.

Actually, since I'm off the water for a couple of weeks due to back surgery,
I was working on creating a harness that would hold both boats side by side
while we dive. I see several advantages: one, only one anchor line. This
means the divers can stay closer on the bottom in low visibility conditions
without fear of the kayaks becoming entangled. Two, more stability on the
surface while exiting and entering the kayaks. The downside (and it's big)
if you loose the line, you loose both kayaks.

Yes, redundancy is always good to have in safety-critical systems