While kayaking is often a sport participated in to get away from the hustle and bustle associated with solid ground, being out on the water comes with its own set of stressful situations. This is especially true when kayaks and motorboats share common waterways. It is during these times that we paddlers must remember that whatever our opinions, we take a backseat to the other boats on the water. We must therefore know the Kayaking Rule of the Road.
Kayaks must therefore be vigilant and aware while paddling in waterways and whenever other watercraft are around. There are some guidelines that can help kayakers be safe in these situations. In most cases, it is just common sense, but it is still good to have a “rule of thumb” that one can draw upon when those split-second decisions must be made.
The following are some of what the American Canoe Association in conjunction with the U.S. Coast Guard calls the “Rules of the Road” for paddlesports and boats sharing common waterways.
Kayaking Rules of the Road
- Be Aware
- See and Be Seen
- Law of Gross Tonnage (Use Common Sense)
- Know the Rights of Passage
- Know How to Avoid Collisions
A summary of these topics is as follows. Stay Vigilant, being aware of your visibility or lack thereof. Choose routes that avoid larger less maneuverable watercraft. Learn how to read charts and how to use navigation aids out on the water. Of course, always wear your pfd. And be sure to know the Kayaking “Rules of the Road.”
Remember to be safe out there!