Sea Kayaking



26th December 2009

Maritime Police are urging all those contemplating adventures in kayaks this holiday to pay particular attention to the weather and know the limitations of themselves and their craft.

The statement came after 11 kayakers within a 36-hour period found themselves in situations beyond their skills and the capabilities of their craft because of strong winds in and around Wellington.

All have sparked call outs for emergency services — with one incident requiring the Police launch Lady Elizabeth III, the Coastguard Spirit of Wellington, the Westpac Rescue Helicopter and Police Patrol staff from Lower Hutt to be called out, says Andrew Cox, of the Wellington Police Maritime unit.

As well as this, two more kayakers had to be given advice not to head out — even after they had seen the Police RHIB returning four kayakers to land in Wellington Harbour, with the wind and sea conditions clearly not suitable for the kayak they were using.

A lack of understanding of the weather and sea conditions, and inexperience, have been some of the main causes of the incidents.

Constable Cox says none of those involved have been idiots, just over-keen people anxious to get on the water.

But, he says, without the eagle eyes of some Wellington residents a couple of these kayakers could have found themselves in much worse predicaments.

He says some basic precautions can prevent most incidents:

  • Check the weather
  • Know the limitations of your craft and your own skills
  • Carry basic emergency gear (radio, flares, lifejackets,etc)
  • And tell someone where you are going and when you will be back

He adds that another helpful thing is to attend a boating education course.