Kayaking

Always carry a means of calling for help and keep it within reach. If it can’t be reached in an emergency, it’s no help.

Kayaking is great fun and one of the most popular boating activities in the UK and Ireland. The number of kayakers and canoeists who get into trouble and need to be rescued has increased significantly over the last few years with the RNLI lifeboats rescuing 181 kayakers last year. Here are some top tips to help you enjoy your kayaking sessions:

  • Always carry a means of calling for help and keep it within reach. If it can’t be reached in an emergency, it’s no help.
  • Wear a personal flotation device.
  • Check the weather and tides.
  • Tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back.
  • Wear appropriate clothing for the conditions and your trip.
  • Get some training: contact your local canoe club and look for coaching sessions run by a British Canoeing or Canoeing Ireland coach.

RNLI lifeboats rescuing 181 kayakers last year. The following film shows how important it is to carry a means of calling for help and keeping within reach.

What can I do?

Whether you use a sea kayak or sit-on-top taking an appropriate means of calling for help and keeping it within reach will ensure the rescue services can get to you quickly. Below is more information on the different means of calling for help.

Which is the appropriate means of calling for help for you?

Personal locator beacon (PLB)

Personal Locator Beacon (PLB): A PLB can send a distress message to the Coastguard from anywhere in the world, providing there is a clear view of the sky. The message and your location will be relayed to the Coastguard, who will launch the appropriate rescue service to your GPS position. A PLB can be used anywhere on the land as well as the sea so could be used as safety kit for other outdoor pursuits.

Mobile phone

Mobile phone: As a minimum, always take a fully charged mobile phone in a waterproof pouch when kayaking. Consider using the RYA Safe Trx app (UK) or ISA SafeTrx (Republic of Ireland) apps to track and log your passage and alert your emergency contact if you fail to return before your ETA. If you get into trouble dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard. Be aware that many areas of coast do not have mobile phone signal, so an alternative means of calling for help may be better.

Waterproof handheld VHF

Waterproof Handheld Digital selective calling (DSC) VHF: A waterproof DSC VHF is a really effective way to call for help. It allows you to send a distress message with your location direct to the Coastguard with a single button push. You then follow this with a voice call on channel 16, which is broadcast to all VHF radios in the area.