Kayaking is a relatively safe sport, but certain rules that apply to water transport must be followed.
Before embarking on a water trip, consider the basic safety requirements for kayaking.
Basic safety requirements
Kayak for recreational boating
If your inflatable or frame kayak is less than 3.5 meters in length, it is designed for coastal tourism. Do not paddle it more than 300 meters from the shore. We strongly recommend that you carry a lifejacket (even though it is not necessary), which may come in handy in case the kayak capsizes.
A sea kayak is an inflatable or frame kayak over 3.5 m long that is marked by the manufacturer as seaworthy. In such a kayak you can sail up to 2 nautical miles (about 3 km) from the shore. You must have the following special equipment:
- a lifejacket for each passenger, complying with European requirements;
- a mooring rope with a carabiner of at least the length of the kayak itself;
- spare paddle;
- a means for insulating the cockpit (note: the open part of the kayak, where the paddler sits);
- a watering can tied to the kayak or a dewatering pump (for kayaks without self-draining);
- a towing hook (or something similar) for towing;
- a thin rope with a hook;
- a light signaling device (flashlight, glow stick, etc.).
Rules of navigation on inland waterways
There are special navigation rules for certain waterways.
- Swimming in areas designated for swimming can only be done in a kayak designed for coastal tourism.
- In most cases you should refrain from using paddles near swimmers.
- You must not cross the port entrance and exit channels equipped with red buoys on the right side and green buoys on the left.
- Do not cross the path of vessels with limited maneuverability (e.g. tugboats, sailing vessels, vessels restricted by their draught, etc.).
- Investigate specially protected areas along your route.
- Do not sail alone and notify someone of your plans and whereabouts.
- Be sure to carry a smartphone in a special waterproof case to call for help if needed.
Right of passage in a kayak
The right of passage at sea
At sea, a vessel maneuvering with a restriction has the right of passage. Therefore, in a kayak, you will have the right of passage only in front of mechanically propelled vessels whose maneuverability is not restricted. Try to stay clear of sailboats with less maneuverability than you.
Rule of the river
On the river and inland waterways a kayak is considered a small craft and must yield to all vessels longer than 15 meters (barges, cruise ships, etc.). You have to give right of way to sailing boats, but vessels with a mechanical engine less than 15 meters long must maneuver in order not to interfere with you.
Two kayaks: who yields to whom?
The right of passage belongs to the kayak on the right! If you meet another kayak face to face, paddle to the right to avoid a collision – just imagine that you are driving on a road with right-hand traffic.