All paddlers should be familiar and carry an assortment of safety equipment. Your list will vary depending on the difficulty of your paddle.
Life Jacket/PFD (Coast Guard Approved)
MANDATORY | Life vests have to be on board the kayak and children under the age of 12 need to be wearing their life vest. A better PFD has 2 or more pockets to carry a assortment of emergency equipment. It is a $100.00 fine if caught without a PFD.
Attached to a Life Vest | PFD | Life Jacket
Cell Phone and/or V.H.F. Radio
The Coast Guard listens to emergency channel 16 at all times so a VHF Radio is a vital piece of equipment for any serious paddler. VHF radios can get better coverage by the Coast Guard statewide but still have areas of blackout. Cell phones also have areas of blackout and both VHF and cell phones need line of site to antenna locations on each island. One is good, both are better! (Dry Bags and waterproof cases are available for cell phones and VHF radios)
Invented by local geologist Robert Yanover that is only 6” x 1.5” x 1.5” and fits in the pocket of a PFD but when unrolled turns into a banner that measures 6” x 25 feet of bright orange plastic with intermittent float tubes. Without your kayak or canoe you’re barely larger than a coconut and the Rescue Streamer would make spotting you from the air much easier (can also be used on land).
E-Pirbe/PLB (Personal Locating Beacons)
MANDATORY | A distress beacon that sends your I.D.# and current Latitude and Longitude to the Coast Guard. $100 fine if caught without it one (1) mile offshore.
Whistle or Horn
Mirror | Smoke Flares | Flares (Red Aerial)
Strobe Light and/or Waterproof Dive Flashlight
Paddle Leash (Kayak)
The paddle leash gets attached to your kayak and to the paddle, keeping the two always together. If you fall overboard, by holding onto your paddle with you have a hold the bow of your boat.
Ankle/Calf Leash (Canoe/SUP Board)
On a Outrigger Canoe/SUP Board, the leash is attached your leg and to the canoe/board, so that if you fall overboard your canoe/board can never get further than 8 feet away.
Basically, a seat belt for your kayak; if you have a good brace stroke then you can broach (side surf) and stay seated and in control of your kayak.
Necessary to pump water out of the kayak hull if flooded.
Holds kayak in place during high winds to keep from being blown out to sea. Can also be used for holding your kayak in place while you are swimming and as a brake while kite sailing or fishing.
When there is an emergency where the main paddle breaks or becomes lost.
First Aid Kit
Sting aid, Benadryl, bandages, pliers (for fishhook removal), etc.
Duct tape, spare parts, tools, rope, etc.
For surfing, rock gardens, sea caves, and nasty landings and takeoffs.
WATER and Food
Synthetics instead of cotton preferred
Foot protection against the reef