Some kayak outings do not need much advance preparation. It is merely a matter of throwing your kayak and gear together if you are going for just the day. Multi-day trips, however, require more meticulous planning, sometimes even weeks in advance. Whatever your experience level, proper preparation for a kayak excursion is essential for your safety and to have a pleasurable experience.
There are several important factors that go into planning any kayak outing, whether you are paddling for the first time or an experienced kayaker. Proper planning for a kayaking trip should include selecting the destinations, the equipment needed and gathering other essential information to keep you safe and to have a pleasant time.
When planning a kayak outing, the following suggestions can improve your comfort, safety, and enjoyment:
As much as you might like the company of others paddlers on the water, you may find interaction with other kayakers, while pleasurable, can interfere with your ability to fully experience the joy of paddling. While kayaking solo can be a very satisfying experience, it can also be risky if you run into trouble and no one is around to come to your assistance.
When planning a kayak excursion, one of the biggest factors to take into consideration is your safety. The best way to improve your safety on a kayak outing is to stress personal responsibility, preparation and sound decision making. The more prepared you are, the more likely you will have a safe and enjoyable trip. Always use caution and good judgment, and always give a responsible family member or friend a float plan.
Prior to departing on a kayaking trip, give a copy of your float plan to a responsible friend or family member, with information about where you will be going, when you are leaving and when you are due to return. Go over the details with them as to when you will be checking in, and when they should notify the authorities) if they do not hear from you, so someone will know where to look for you.
A float plan should include:
• Vehicle descriptions (color, make and model, license plate number.)
• Emergency contacts. Who to notify if you're overdue. (Forest Service, Park Ranger, Harbor Patrol etc.)
• Detailed directions, maps, and list of destinations to which you will be going and the dates you will be there.
• Departure date and time you're due back.
• Campgrounds, telephone numbers and addresses.
As an extra safety precaution, inform the ranger or harbor patrol of your trip plans, especially if you are paddling alone.
Paddling with a Group
The advantage of coordinating a paddle is that it allows you to pick a destination and date, determine the distance, and set a limit on the size of the group. More likely than not, you will have less hassle with smaller groups. As a participant, the advantage is that you can show up without doing any of the coordination work.
Coordinating a paddle may (or may not) include providing maps, directions, or camping information, etc. Coordinating a paddle may simply mean letting others know you are planning to paddle at a designated time and location, and if anyone wants to join you they can.