If you haven’t yet kayaked or canoed at night you’re missing a wonderful experience you should add to your ‘MUST DO PADDLE LIST’. The winds die and water’s turn to glass, the stars begin to dance in the sky above, while the sounds’ of nature come alive. However, paddling at night does come with some increased inherent risks…. Here’s how to make your nighttime paddle a wonderful adventure!
If you paddle at night, or in heavy fog, you’re going to be a lot less visible to other boats on the water. Unlike larger boats, kayaks aren’t required to show running lights, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. It’s a good idea to always have a waterproof flashlight or better yet a multi-purpose kayak light as part of your night paddling gear. Another great and inexpensive safety idea is to add reflective tape to your kayak, PFD, and paddle. Reflective tape, while not as effective as actual lights, will still make you far more visible in darker conditions to oncoming boats with running lights of their own.
Another way to get attention while kayaking at night is to bring along a whistle. Whistles are small enough attached to your PFD. An even better idea is to include a handheld foghorn. These ‘VERY LOUD’ Horns are especially effective in fog (hence the name) or when motorboat traffic exists.
Kayaking at night requires you to have ‘your head on a swivel’ as you must keep a constant lookout for boat traffic in your area. If you spot a pair of white lights – one above the other – this will normally
indicate a boat that is traveling directly toward you. This is a good time to get use both your lights and/ or noisemaker to let the boat know you’re there.
You can also use red and green port and starboard lights to judge whether or not a boat is headed your way. If you see a red light to the left of the green light, the boat in question is moving away from you. If, on the other hand, the red light is to the right of the green, the boat is coming toward you, and you may need to signal it and/or take avoiding action.
Another danger at night is the fact that motorized boats often make sudden turns, and they can change direction straight toward you in a moment’s notice. If your flashlight fails to get the other boat’s attention, you can fire off a white flare as a last resort. Unlike a red flare, a white flare is not a distress signal, but it will certainly make your presence known. It’s a good idea to stock your kayak with several white and red flares for emergencies.
Paddling at night is all about being noticed, being proactive and minimizing risk… and at night, that’s really the name of the game… so like Nikey says- ‘Just Do It!
NOTE: Frontenac Outfitters stocks great selection of night gear such as; Whistles, air blow Fog horns, flashlights, a PFD waterproof strobe light, and a waterproof kayak multi
purpose light that includes – an SOS signal, 2- way LED Flashlight, Emergency Xenon Strobe, Red Night Vision Light and a Magnetic Suction Cup Base w’ tether.