Avoiding Collisions While Kayaking

Photo Credit: Tim Foster / Unsplash

Rules of the Road for Kayaks

With the increase in popularity of water sports over the last decade, there are more boats than ever before on our shared waterways. Motor boats, personal watercraft, and self-propelled boats such as kayaks and canoes are all vying for their respective rights of way. It is therefore crucial that all boaters know and follow the Rules of the Road in order to avoid a collision while on the water and maintain water safety at all times.

While kayaks are maneuverable and are brought easily to a controlled stop, other boats are not. It is therefore not good enough for kayakers to assume that they won’t become a part of an on-water accident, as there are no guarantees that they won’t be hit. Therefore, as part of the rules of the road, the kayaker as well as all boaters must know what to do and how to avoid a collision.

Rules for Kayaks to Avoid Collisions

Two Boats Coming at Each Other Head On

When you are heading straight for a boat that is also heading straight for you, both boats should turn to the right or starboard side. This will enable the boats to pass each other to the left, portside to portside. Be sure to make the turn sharp and evident so as to alert the oncoming boat as to your exact intentions.

A Kayak is Going to Be Taken From Behind

If you are in the path of another boat that is closely approaching and going the same direction as you, be sure to maintain your heading. Hold

your course. This sounds counterintuitive and might even be unnerving. The last thing you want to do however is to catch the approaching boat off guard and turn into his path. It is his job to avoid you. Now, if you feel that the boater doesn’t see you, wave your paddle high in the air, making yourself as visible as you can.

Avoiding Collisions When in A Constricted Area

When in constricted areas, such as inside of narrow channels or in-between bridge abutments the rules are not so clear. In these cases, there is one thing to remember. Give the right of way to less maneuverable watercraft. Do what you can to stay out of their way and to yield your ground. Always make your intentions clear to the other boaters so as to avoid any misunderstandings that could lead to a collision.