Orion Skyblazer flares : Yes or No

We are heading out for a trip this Thursday to the San Juan Islands and thought it was time to add to our safety kit by purchasing aerial flares. Our thought is to purchase Orion Skyblazer aerial flares.

Anyone have experience with them or care to comments prior to our purchase? Other recommendations?

We already have Uniden Voyager VHF handhelds and GPS handhelds for daytime communication / location but thought the flares would be important too and also help with night time situations.

I have them…
I have them (plus the same radio and gps as you have), but so far I’ve never had to use them. Reviews of them are mixed, so make sure you have backups. I carry a super lightweight survival blanket (the metal kind) in my safety bag, both to help warm someone up, and because during the day, it might be a useful back up device for getting someone’s attention. They’re a couple bucks, and pack into a tiny packet. They’re also good groundsheets under your tent, if need be. The more backups, the better.

Have Used Them For Years
I have used the skyblazers for years on my sailboat. They are a good compromise, IMHO, between a handheld and a Solas type flare.

I bought a new pack this Spring, the old ones were about three and a half years old. My boys set the old ones off 4th of July evening and they worked as advertised.

Happy Paddling,


Good thought on the survival
blanket. I keep one in my day hatch grab bag. I also keep waterproof matches along with the strike flint in a water proof container in my PFD pocket and as well as additional ones in my grab bag.

Thanks for the information!

If you will be paddling during daylight
hours, even more important than the flares are some smoke bombs or dye to put in the water.

smoke flairs, smoke flairs, smoke flairs
perhaps a strong opinion, and one not based on real life experience but the kayak gurus i most respect, insist on a smoke flair in the kit.

read the second last issue of Sea Kayaker about the emergency on Lake Ontario. they sent up a flair or 2 within a mile of a passing sailboat, but it wasn’t seen. think about it. how visible is a small rocket flair going to be?

now how about 4 minutes of dense, billowing, noxious orange smoke in the middle of the day? Comet makes a very compact flair with these specs. i hope i never have to use it, but i am convinced it is the strongest visual backup in my kit.

let’s hope skill, common sense and the VHF as a last resort keep my ass (and yours) safe.

good paddling.

yep a timely thought …
When I bought the flares today at Aquan in San Carlos the staff mentioned they also had smoke flares. I looked at it briefly and moved on to the checkout counter with my Zipwax, Sea to Summit dry bags and aerial flares. I looked at it a bit and it looked long so I thought where should I attach it? Immediately I knew I had to come to the forum!

How long should the smoke flare be and how do you attach them to your PFD? How many do you need to have? What are the best practices for their use?

Aquan link http://www.aquansports.com/

under deck bag.
for myself, i put my flairs in an underdeck bag. if i come out of my boat, there they are, right at hand. if i need to use one to summon help for someone else, i will open skirt to get it. i can pull the bag off the velcro attachment and have skirt on in a moment. also, i can paddle my boat fine with a completely flooded cockpit. the Comet brand smoke flair is smaller than some but still sizable and heavy. i would never think of keeping it in my pfd. everyone will have a different approach. given my skill level, i’m comfortable with my own of course.

Is there a preferred color?

Small flares are for final guidance
> they sent up a flair or 2 within a mile of a passing sailboat,

but it wasn’t seen. think about it. how visible is a small rocket flair going to be?

The consensus I’ve seen is that small rocket style flares are really for guiding rescuers to your exact location. In rough seas, rescuers can be pretty close and still not see you down in the water, where you are mostly shielded by big swells and maybe breaking stuff.

Small flares were used exactly this way recently in a CG rescue of some experienced paddlers caught in too-big conditions in Plum Island Sound, off Ipswich, MA. See http://tinyurl.com/qrk3h for the contemperaneous reports and http://tinyurl.com/nm6qg for the after-the-fact report.

Bottom line, they used flares exactly that way, and it helped speed the rescue.


i’ve only seen orange.
and i’m not debating the value of rocket flairs. i think one should carry both. i like 3 rocket flairs and 1 smoke.