Sea Kayak Safety advice
If you’re a sea kayaker, one important way you can improve safety while paddling on the sea for yourself and for others is to carry a handheld Marine VHF Radio and know how to use it. Once you’ve got one, you’ll find it an invaluable and powerful link to a global maritime distress and safety system – a vast network which serves both leisure and professional users of the sea.
While there’s no substitute for good self-reliant paddling and solid seamanship skills, a radio provides an important means of two-way communication with others in any urgent or safety situation. Many radios are equipped with Digital Selective Calling (DSC), which will enable you to automatically activate a variety of alerts, either for safety or distress, by means of one single button. DSC is fundamentally an advanced paging system containing a package of GPS derived position and vessel/user information. It can also be used for communicating with other DSC users by simply entering their unique MMSI number.
Advantages for a Sea Kayaker
Constant safety watch kept by global network of professionals with huge rescue and safety resources at their command in case of emergency.
Better than mobile phone as your position can be derived by signal triangulation and DSC technology.
There’s also a vast worldwide listening network so that distress and other information can be communicated directly to Coastguard and other safety services. If out-of-range of such services, your urgency transmissions can be relayed by nearby vessels.
Communicate directly with other DSC users by means of a Maritime Mobile Service Identity number (MMSI). Alternatively, none-DSC users can simply communicate directly on a pre-arranged working channel but this channel might also be used by other people.
Obtain weather, tide, vessel movement reports as well as announcements concerning navigation warnings, sea pollution and other hazards, all of which will serve to increase your knowledge and awareness about the environment where leisure and professional users come into close proximity.
Communicate with the Coastguard to pass traffic reports and alert larger vessels of your presence to enhance safety while out paddling.
Limitations for a Sea Kayaker
Limited battery life on multi day expeditions – take extra batteries/solar charger.
Corrosive nature of sea water will eventually damage sets unless care is taken to rinse them regularly in fresh water.
Limited range while operated from a sea kayak less than 1 metre above the sea, especially while close under sea cliffs.