Saftey checklist - first time out

-- Last Updated: Jun-10-05 1:18 PM EST --

My first boat finally came in and I'm afraid in the excitement to get it put in tonight that I will forget something or worse, not realize I need something. I trust the sales staff, but want to double check here.

It's a Necky Chatham 17 and I am going to be paddling on a lake relatively close to shore behind a break-water. The only real problem I anticipate would be wakes from boats.

This is the saftey gear I am planning on taking with me to the water. Am I forgetting anything? Any other suggestions?

- Type III PFD
- Paddle float
- Whistle
- Paddling partner [added after post]

Thanks for any input!


I cut the bottom off of an orange juice container to use as a bailer. I tied a big sponge to it. Bailer makes a nice pee bucket too. (different thread)


Sounds stupid but, I loaded everything up one day and forgot my paddle! Have fun.

Dry Bag

– Last Updated: Jun-10-05 3:04 PM EST –

Welcome to a great sport. While it isn't required safety equipment, we ALWAYS carry a dry bag each with a COMPLETE change of clothes, and some emergency supplies. What you'll need depends on where you live and paddle - we're in Newfoundland, home of cold waters and lots of remote paddling locations, so ours are pretty extensive.

A place for everything …
This may seem overly redundant, but I find that gear preparation for a paddling outing is best done at the END of the LAST outing. In other words, after my shower and a couple slices of hot buttered toast, I wash and dry all my gear, then pack it all in my big duffel bag. Always the same stuff, same place, same way. This also prevents stinky surprises from moldy or damaged gear.

Then, when I impulsively and quickly decide to go out for another paddle, all my gear is ready and waiting, and I only have to count to three:

  1. Boat
  2. Paddle
  3. Gear Duffel

    Paddle on!

Asolutely a pump
Draining a swamped kayak is a chore made much easier with a good pump.

And you can use it to soak your buds in their open canoes!


safety skill/gear
There’s some pretty basic and important stuff you didn’t mention that you had. If you know this stuff, please excuse me.

Not to diminish the importance of having the right safety gear and knowing how to use it, but good judgement(from experience, etc.)and skills are more important in that they tend to keep you from having to use that safety gear in the first place.

Hypothermia is responsible for most kayaker deaths and there are quite a few kayaker deaths every year across the country. I usually hear of 1 or 2 local to me per year. How long could you stay in the water and not succumb to the effects of hypothermia? As your hands go numb, your chances of being able to do much of anything to rescue yourself diminish greatly. A farmer john type wetsuit or drysuit may be in order unless you live in a warm water area like FL, for instance.

Do you have the skills to exit and self rescue in the conditions you plan to paddle in? The Chatam’s are not known for their “beginner stability”.

If you are in trouble how will you communicate to others that you need help immediately? Flares, VHF marine radio, cell phone operable from within waterproof drybag, etc…if your boat blows away from you in the wind as you exit as has happened to many kayakers (some who are no longer with us in part because they didn’t think about this stuff or know that they should think about it), will you have these signaling devices on your person and still be able to communicate your need for immediate help?

There’s alot of great information out there (classes, books, videos, etc.)–soak it all up and ponder it and figure out what you need to do and have to be reasonably safe. Pick up a copy of Sea Kayaker Deep Trouble, for instance, ( and learn from the incident reviews and tips from the authors.

Happy paddling!

Overkill fer sure.
Here’s what I carry:

OK, call me paranoid:
I also carry this bail-out bag, in case I get seperated from my boat:


Polypro piece of lightweight top, shades-visor,sunscreen,Water.

Helment? Half the paddle twice the paddiler

what is your background!
Sorry if talking down to ya, but what is your background. Have you wet exited your boat without and with sprayskirt with support from someone, can you hold onto your boat and paddle? Can you swim? What is the water temps, have right clothing? Are you going solo on first attempts? How about going with folks who know how to help you recover?

My athletic outdoor friend went out solo in her new kayak near shore, flipped over and had her head stuck in some underwater branches, came within two seconds of blacking out, was saved by nearby boater who saw her, otherwise she would have died. IT is real.

Besides the boat

– Last Updated: Jun-11-05 8:58 PM EST –

skirt, paddle, paddle float, pump, pfd (with a strom whistle attached not a weenie fox 40). For flat water where you can szim to shore that
s all you need. Then look at spare paddle (secured but accessable), first aid kit, dict tape, dry bag with clothes and survival gear, signalling devices (submserible vhf, flares) flashlight (I like the small round princeton tec models, rescue strobe.

It all depends where you are paddling. Here is a link fron NSPN.

NSPN list – some anomalies

– Last Updated: Jun-11-05 9:38 PM EST –

Hi, Peter

Good idea to point at the NSPN equipment list. I've always found it pretty good.

I don't know if we want to discuss it here, but I now see a couple of odd items (nose plugs, snorkel mask recommended, but only for levels 2 & 3), and first aid kit only highly recommended for leaders, not required? Have these always been that way on the list?

The nose plugs and snorkel mask seem to me to be optional, and then only if you plan to do some kind of immersion practice, particularly rolling, but maybe also anything involving wet exiting. I assume the idea is not to wear them continually against an accidental capsize. So, maybe there's a missing category -- like "Optional" or "for special purposes". But whatever the reason, why wouldn't it also apply to higher levels?

Not requiring the first aid kit for leaders -- perhaps off topic for this thread -- just seems plain wrong. Certainly, it's as important as flares (which are a CG regulation, I believe) or a repair kit. Well, I can imagine arguments involving training or lack thereof, but some kind of first aid kit still seems to me to be a necessity for leaders.


I don’t think I could survive out there without it. I have 9 feet tied to the front, and then 50 feet of float rope in my survival bag (spare clothes, camp towel, first aid kit with a few personal extras). The first aid kit, especially if you will be on a river.

But Rope. That is an important thing.