Kayak Safely in High-Traffic Waters [Video]

If you plan to kayak in high-traffic waters, you’ll need to learn the “rules of the road.” Kayak expert, Ken Whiting, shares his tips with us in this video…

Kayaks Move Much Slower than Motor Boats

Compared to motorized boats, kayaks are slow-moving. That makes it tough to get out of the way of other boat traffic if we need to.

Kayaks have a Lower Profile than Other Boats

Kayaks are so much lower than other boats, we can be difficult to see, even in open water. We need to be aware of how other boats navigate through the waterways we paddle on. That way we can avoid the pathway of bigger and faster boats.

Know What the Buoys Mean

Many waterways that have active motorboat traffic use buoys to define the best channel for them to travel.

To help remember where the main channel is, use the Rule of 3 R’s: Red, Right, Returning. If you’re paddling upstream on a river or returning from open water, keep the red markers on your right side if you want to stay in the main boating channel.

Knowing the 3 R’s can also help you avoid the main channel if you’d prefer not to share that space with larger boats.

kayaks sharing waters with larger boats
Be aware of the where the main channels are for the bigger boats

Smaller Power Boats are Less Predictable

Smaller motorboats tend to present the biggest threat to paddlers since they can travel in shallower water than bigger boats, and often are traveling at high speeds. Drivers of these may not be looking for kayaks and other small, unmotorized boats, so be aware of them.

Paddle Close to Shore to Stay out of the Way

It’s a great idea to stick close to the shoreline when you’re on high-traffic waterways. If you want to cross the main channel, do it as quickly as you can.

Dealing with Power Boat Wake

One of the things you’ll encounter when paddling in the same water as motorboats is their wake. The best way to handle these temporary waves is to head right into them. Continue to paddle straight ahead as you pass over them, then resume your original direction.

Be Easily Seen

Assume other boaters aren’t looking for kayakers! Make yourself impossible to miss on the water: use a brightly-colored kayak and/or paddle or wear a brightly-colored PFD and clothing.

The waterways we paddle are big enough for all of us. But take extra precautions when you’re in high-traffic areas to keep you and your party safe.

Happy paddling!

What questions do you have? Call or email our Wisconsin-based customer service team today: 715-755-3405 or [email protected]

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