Kayaking advice from instructor

17 October 2012

kayak kids Recreational kayaking for fun, exercise or fishing is one of the fastest growing recreation activities in Australia.

I am a kayak and canoe instructor and assessor with the Canoe SA Education and Technical Committee. Our job is to oversee the training and assessment of instructors.

I’m also a keen kayaker. Although a relatively safe activity, there is potential for an incident. Incidents are usually caused by lack of knowledge, incorrect equipment or poor weather.

These are the things I do to reduce risk, increase safety and improve my enjoyment:





- wear a properly fitting buoyancy vest at all times when on the water
- check your kayak, paddle and lifejacket (personal floatation device) is in good order before going out
- wear the right clothing for the conditions, and clothing that will keep you warm if you capsize or get wet
- always check the weather forecast. Consider cancelling if the wind is blowing strongly away from shore or there is a storm, change of wind direction or front approaching
- let someone know details before you go and of your safe return
- if you are going for a longer period of time take snacks, water and perhaps some extra clothes and personal first aid in a - water proof bag. A phone (in a water proof bag) is a good idea, and you can call 000/112 if you get into trouble
- take care lifting canoes and kayaks on to car roofs. Protect your back and reduce the chance of damage by using two people
- secure your kayak well with tie down straps or similar

On the water

- kayaking in a group is generally safer than kayaking on your own
- keep clear of hazards such as other boats, reefs, pipe outflows, turbulent or swift-flowing water
- do not throw away plastic wrappers for bait or other litter into any waterway
- learn how to control your craft and rescue it should it capsize in sheltered and protected conditions first. It is a good idea to undertake some skills and knowledge training with a qualified instructor
- take a bailer if it is not a sit on or self draining configuration
- take a buoyant, waterproof torch after sunset.

Recreational kayaking is a good foundation for other paddling activities including sea kayaking, sprint, marathon, canoe polo, Stand-up paddle boards and others.

If you would like more information about kayaking and canoeing education, sport or events go to the Canoe SA website at www.canoesa.asn.au or  canoesa1@canoesa.asn.au, or phone 08 8240 3294.

Additional safety information is available at the Kayaking and canoe page of sa.gov.au

Safe kayaking,
Scott Polley