Ahhh, summer! Now’s the time to hit the trails, lounge on the beach, soak up the sun, ride the waves, or – our favorite – paddle your cares and stress away on lazy streams, rushing rivers, gorgeous lakes, or along miles of coastline. Paddleboarding and kayaking are tremendously popular – and for a good reason! Both are great exercise – and fun to boot. But paddling safety should always be top of mind – and safety starts at the paddleboard or kayak dock.
Staying Safe While Boarding Your Vessel
The first step is getting into your kayak safely – which is no small feat when you’re a beginner. It can be hard to look graceful! Instead, focus on being safe. When launching from a dock, choose a spot that is parallel to the dock. Remove the kayak from your paddle sport storage rack, place your kayak in the water, close to the edge of the dock. Sit down on the dock in preparation to enter the kayak, for balance place your paddle on the stern, slide yourself into your kayak and start paddling!
To launch your paddleboard from a dock, choose a spot that is parallel to the dock. Remove your paddleboard from your paddle sport storage rack, place the paddleboard in the water, close to the edge of the dock. Sit down on the dock in preparation to kneel on the board, slowly slide onto the board (in kneeling position) and off you go!
When launching your kayak from the shoreline, sit in the kayak and use your hands to propel yourself onto the water. If your kayak is composite or fiberglass, start in a few inches of water so you don’t scratch it. Straddle the watercraft, lower yourself in, and head out! If you have someone to hold the kayak stable, it can be a tremendous help.
If launching from the shoreline on a paddleboard, place your board on the water. Hold on to the board and wait for a moment in between wave activity to kneel on your board. Once you are on your board in this kneeling position start paddling. When ready to stand up on your paddleboard place your paddle on the board. Hold on to the center for balance (your paddle should feel secure on the paddleboard) and wait for that in between moment to push yourself up from the board (similar to a push up). Make sure to bring up your paddle with you while you are rising. Once in standing position you may begin to paddle.
Paddling Safety: Staying Safe While on the Water
Other paddling safety tips include:
- Wearing your life jacket and making sure it fits properly.
- Looking at weather conditions. You don’t want to paddle out into a storm.
- Knowing your limits. If you’re just starting out, pace yourself. Choose a path that can be completed within a few hours.
- Having the right supplies on board. This includes a waterproof container for your phone (which also serves as a GPS and emergency device), sunscreen, drinking water, emergency flares, first aid kit, and other essentials.
- Wearing bright colors so you are visible to others on the water and wearing or bringing layers in case weather conditions change suddenly.
- Sharing your plan/route with someone before you go out. If you don’t make it back in a reasonable amount of time, that person can alert rescue personnel and provide a general location to search.
AccuDock offers a full line of floating dock configurations designed specifically for kayaking. Each AccuDock kayak dock provides a safe stable platform that is close to the water’s surface and fully equipped with an overhead assist bar making the launch and recovery of your kayak safe and easy. A side- or paddleboard-assist railing can be added to any kayak dock configuration to make for an even safer boarding experience. Contact AccuDock today to request an estimate.
We encourage you to hit the water this summer – and prioritize your safety and that of others you’ll encounter. Stay aware, be prepared, and have fun!