Boat Color

PINK All The Way!
next time I replace a waveski… :)<br />


pretty in pink.

Ditto the paddle flash
We have reflective turtle decals on our paddles, power face on one side back of blade on the other. They show up well in sunlight and artificial light, not so well in fog.

Really, buy whatever color you like. If we’re talking color that’ll be visible from a helicopter overhead,or a big boat sitting high up, i think yellow is the way to go.

From a distance, pretty much any color won’t be visible once you’re far enough away.

In any kind of ‘conditions’, the kayak is low enough that the waves will hide it completely.

All n all, yellow is still my prefference, but i know it makes little difference in reality.

a pattern on a paddle can really stand out. SuperTroll’s yellow and black striped paddle stood out more than his yellow boat at a distance. Of course the sailing rig also stands out quite a bit.


Paddle blade colors
I have to agree that robin’s egg blue or a light blue-green is surprisingly visible, though I don’t know if they’re the most visible colors. My vote would be for a “warm tone”, mango or maybe a neon orange (ugh).

A lot depends on the angle of view. From my experience, a kayaker seen head on or from the back is most visible not by the kayak color but by the paddle blade color. Flashing, bright blades catch my attention.

PFD color helps, too.

I have often debated over whether a visible color is better, or one that you just like better (I am fond of quill and other muted colors but they are not very visible).

In the end, I think that being more visible can only help.

I paddle in rough water a lot, and I paddle alone alot in these conditions. I feel a little better knowing that I may be a bit more visibile to boat traffic, and in a potential rescue situation. You never know what could happen on the water. We are still a speck in the ocean, but our boat is certainly our biggest and most conspicuous peice of equipment. It probably out to be visible.

If you ever have to call for a rescue the coast guard is going to ask you to describe your craft…not your pfd or your hat.

Furthermore, it may be that you are not on the water, but have landed on a beach and you or another in your group needs medical assistance, etc. Bright is much more easy to pick out on a beach too.

I also tend to like to play in the inlets around here where you get some pretty good tide races that form, waves, etc. In these instances it’s nice being more visible to approaching boat traffic.

Lastly…and here I may get flamed given that I allude to bcu stuff… but oh well…I think that as you progress as a sea kayaker your focus starts to shift from basic skills, strokes, rough water handling, etc to other group leadership and expedition type skills. This is the main difference between 4 star and 5 star level skills.

I now am starting to focus more and more on learning about incident management and rescue type issues which does tend to make you look at things through a different lens. (Of course most of us will never have to apply these skills–hopefully–but they are important in this sport.) This change in focus definitely has made me look at things differently. As such I am now a believer in visible boats. In the end it’s a lot more important than just having a color you like…really. I think that it is not only an important issue for you as an individual paddler but also as a member of the group.

Yes, I agree that visible paddles, pfds and helmets/hats are important too. But why not have your biggest piece of equipment be visible too?

What color is most visible? Good question. I personally would pick yellow or orange. While robin egg blue may be quite visible I would think yellow or orange would be more likely to catch the eye of an approaching motor boater. Also think it would be more visible on the beach which is important in a rescue scenario too.

Of course, if you only paddle on flatwater and don’t paddle in the ocean, etc. then color may not be a real issue for you, but if you paddle on the ocean and like to paddle in rough conditions or far from shore, etc. I think that a bright and visible color can only help. Certainly if you ever do end up in trouble you would be happy that you went with something visible.


Yellow vs. Orange…
One more thing…I did have a boat (now sold) which was orange over yellow. This was a super visible boat on the water or on shore.

One thing that I noticed though was that from a distance (my wife went paddlign with me a few times and I let her paddle this boat) the boat really stuck out. To my surprise though it seemed that the yellow hull was quite a bit more visible than the orange deck. I would have thought the opposite.

So in my very limited observation it would seem to me that yellow may be more visible than orange.

Your results may vary…


Absolute scientific research with a random sampling of one…

I was landing my Wilderness Systems double, a yellow boat, at the marina. A power boater came over and said good for you to buy a yellow boat. From the bridge, I can see it better than any other color.

I asked about red, since my Solstice is red top/white bottom.

He said yellow

I all ready knew the answer to the forest green.

So there you have it, Yellow is it, at least when viewed on San Francisco Bay!

I’ve yet to read about how color blindness may effect large boat captains, but I did have a link to a site that showed how brightly colored bicycle clothing disappers against the gray back ground of asphalt, and even the green of a forest. Blue was the color that stood out the most as color blindess got worse. The real bright ‘safety green’ was the first to go gray.

Then, of course, there is how visibile we are on radar, if it is on, if it is adjusted properly, and if it is being used by a knowledgeble person.

answer…20’ sailboats are near invisible, according to similar conversations and reading of powerboater internet boards, such as this.

we are invisible, same as a bicycle on the roads.


San Rafael, CA


– Last Updated: Jan-16-08 10:10 AM EST –

Bowler1: "What color is most visible? Good question. I personally would pick yellow or orange. While robin egg blue may be quite visible I would think yellow or orange would be more likely to catch the eye of an approaching motor boater. Also think it would be more visible on the beach which is important in a rescue scenario too."

Just a thought, but maybe Robin's Egg Blue is most visible to people actually looking for it (CG Rescue, etc). That could be a diffent scenario than other boaters who aren't necessarily looking for you, but you want to be visible to them...

I don't think I've ever seen a Robin's Egg Blue kayak out on the water so I can't comment on that. But I agree that a moving paddle is the most visible part of a kayak at a distance.

Paddle blades …
I like my carbon paddles. They are awful for visibility though. Once the group I was with had split up for a while and were coming back together straight at each other. We were able to see 2 of the three paddles, one with orange blades and one with white fiberglass blades. As we got closer we were able to see all three boats but still only 2 paddles, the comments were going around our group that the third person must not be paddling. Then I remembered that I had let that third person borrow my carbon paddle. Totally could not see it on Lake Erie until she got very close. Too bad carbon is too pretty to paint yellow or orange! :slight_smile: I have since added reflective vinyl strips although I doubt that would help much in broad daylight.

As for radar, I paddle at night on the Ohio River quite a lot and there are large barges/tows that navigate that waterway. I can spot them from several miles away and am always amazed how quickly, from a long distance away, they will hit me with their spotlight. the only way they could have seen me from the distances in question is radar. They may have different radar setups with the special requirements of river navigation but anyway …


Bad Topic For Me
I took the last kayak on sale which was a bright yellow and liked it, but found it said “demo” on it. I called the store and they said they would order me a new one. It came in a different shade of yellow, a muted one which I don’t like but it’s mine now.

Of course yellow would be a good choice as well as orange. Of course it also does not guarantee you will be seen so you always have to be vigilent while kayaking to avoid being run over.


quote of the decade:
“pretty much any color won’t be visible once you’re far enough away”

can’t disagree with that

where do you get one of those “radar tubes” as seen in John Dowd’s Navigation video? It’s a clear plastic tube with tin panels divided into sections inside. Maybe somebody knows.

Not the radar
They might have night vision scopes or something, but radar relies on a velocity difference or a large return from a metal object. The only way a radar would “see” you is if they were using SAR (synthetic aperture radar) processing which essentially creates a surface map. They would need pretty calm water to see you then, but I really doubt a ship would have any SAR capability for mapping the surface.

If you were traveling 20 knots towards them in a metal kayak, then maybe…


Boat Color
There is a well written past article on P-net under “Guidelines” by Tom Watson titled “Sea Kayaking’s True Colors.” You can find it under “archived guidelines.” It mirrors the information given to our kayaking club in San Francisco by a Coast Guard Air-Sea rescue physician.

exactly, if a person is thinking about passive signals for rescue or visibility then they’re in a situation where active devices are needed, VHF, etc.

Re: best color
Hi …I was just thinking …best color to see from what view angle ?? from the sky ? from water level ?

Googled up these overhead photo’s for everyone’s consideration.

Yellow…with BEE stripes on paddle
and to give credit where due, I stole the “BEE” stripe idea from Redmond.

My Boat is yellow with black rigging, the ONNO paddle has bright Yellow 2 inch stripes painted on the forward face of the blades.

I added reflective tape to the paddle shaft just below the drip rings.

Flashing yellow striped paddles can be seen for MILES.

you’ve got to be able to live with it
I don’t think I could live with a bee stripe boat and bee stripe paddle, dressed up like a bee

Sat Night Live
Remember the “Bumble Bee” skit with John Belushi where the other bees accused him of “buzzing off” because he had some honey on his hand?