Ocean Paddling Safety

Does anyone suggest the best visual siginaling device that would help the Coast Guard find me if I’m lost at sea?

I’ve found www.rescuestreamer.com and akona safety sausage…do these work?

check this link out

– Last Updated: Dec-12-09 7:47 PM EST –


visibility and reliability are two issues. Smoke seems good for both in day time. I may get a green signaling laser to supplement flares as I've heard too many stories of them not working all the time.

and of course VHF and a signal mirror (takes practice to use well).

the best signal isn’t visual
The best signal is VHF. To pinpoint where you are once they’re looking for you, some people recommend pencil flares, although carry at least three since their failure rate is legendary.

note that they should be used in
ADDITION to another device.

That description on the Rescue Streamer site leaves me totally unimpressed.

You should wear a PFD. However a PFD will not help anyone find you.

Find yourself. Take an elementary GPS and a chart.

Its not going to help anyone find you but as a distress aid anything is going to help. I have only been in a rescue situation once and as the rescue vehicle was not an airplane but rather a boat, a flare was the best. A floating something would have been meaningless.

So think of the kit as needing : flares to be visible from low down and something aerial, and your best bet for being lost may be a marine radio if you have a true emergency. Otherwise find thee thyself with a compass and chart. Or perhaps GPS. There really is no excuse these days for being lost. You might consider a PLB or SPOT for one way communication should you have a true need for rescue.

Don’t assume the Coasties are patrolling. There are two units covering the whole coast of Maine. We are taught even if radioing in an emergency they cannot be assured of being there in less than two hours.

streamer and sausage
"I’ve found www.rescuestreamer.com and akona safety sausage…do these work?"

No, not unless the coastguard is specifically looking for you, and has a good idea of where you are.

The Streamer is probably nearly invisible from water level because it floats flat on the water. Passing boats would not likely see it. It seems to be aimed at aircraft, but the website says it’s only visible up to an altitude of 1500 feet. Commercial planes never fly that low, and even general aviation planes are often above that. So unless a search craft is already looking for you, I don’t think that streamer is going to summon help.

In Maine the Akona “sausage” would probably just be mistaken for a lobster buoy, and ignored.

I’d agree with the others here who emphasize having a VHF or PLB to call for help, and then flares or smoke to help your rescuers pinpoint your location.

Remember that flares, specially hand held, were never designed to be used on a kayak, they were designed to be used on larger boats where the flare can easily be held off to the side without losing stability. When you need a flare it’ll likely be in bad weather and you’re gonna need both hands to keep the kayak upright.

Best flares are pistol fired, the 12 gauge ones are much smaller and cheap enough that you can have quite a few and safe to use on a kayak with little risk to you or the boat.

Bill H.