Sea Kayakers Warned To Take Cell-phones And Beacons — And Wear Lifejackets — To Survive In The Water

Kayakers must wear a lifejacket or personal floatation device (PFD) every time they head out to sea, even if they’re experienced swimmers,” says Surf Lifesaving NZ and the Sea Kayakers Azsociation.

And holidaymakers using kayaks, dinghies or rafts also need two forms of waterproof communication , such as a hand-held VHF radio, a personal locator beacon (PLB or a cell phone in a waterproof lanyard bag.” they say.

Kayaks, dinghies and rafts can be tools to explore beautiful coastlines – or catch kai moana (seafood) – and Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ) says it’s keen to ensure Kiwis can enjoy these craft safely.

PriorityNo. 1

“Our number one priority is ensuring that Kiwis make it home safe after a day at the beach,” says SLSNZ Chief Executive, Paul Dalton.

Paul says volunteer Surf Lifeguards made 577 rescues last season, and a number of these involved people who were participating in watercraft activities such as sea kayaking and surfing.

Measures to save lives

Kiwi Association of Sea Kayakers president Shaun Maclaren says there are several key measures that sea kayakers, as well as people using dinghies and rafts, should take when heading out on the water. 

“It’s vital to wear a lifejacket or PFD (personal floatation device) every time you head out on the water, even if you’re an experienced swimmer,” he says. 

“You’ll need two forms of waterproof communication too, such as a hand-held VHF radio, a PLB (personal locator beacon) or a cell phone in a waterproof lanyard bag.”

Shaun also stresses that inflatable craft are not suitable for the surf.

“To paddle in the surf, your craft must be sturdy. Inflatable kayaks can be easily blown out to sea and there have even been cases where inflatable craft folded in half under a wave.”

Before heading out,Shaun recommends that paddlers check: 

  • The weather forecast
  • Wind strength and direction (now and forecast)
  • Tide height and flow if they are on the coast
  • Water temperature. 

If you’re new to using sea kayaks or other light watercraft, KASK recommends heading out with an experienced friend or family member to begin with – or, better yet, sign up for an accredited course.

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