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2018 AOTY/DOTY Entry

Topic: Kayakfishing the Big Blue, How Do I Start and What Do I Need?  (Read 10266 times)

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  • mara pescador
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Fishing the ocean can be fun and games or the worst day of your life, maybe even the last. Saltydog Jim was good enough to filter through many existing posts and compile the wealth of information into one article.  Please read it if prior to making any new posts asking what you need to know.  It should also be noted that this is not an end all article, bad stuff will happen and experience will be your most valuable tool......don't let your ambition extend beyond your skills and abilities! 

Welcome to NCKA! Here’s a list of the things you need to safely launch into the ocean or bay and why you need them.
This list is a great starting point but is not intended to be 100% comprehensive. If you have questions that are not answered in this article then please perform a search in the gearing up forum. If your search isn’t successful then start a new thread with your questions. Thanks.

First the non-material things.
A. A buddy. Sure you can fish alone but it’s more fun with a buddy and if you run into trouble, say your yak springs a leak,     you’re buddy can help you out and likewise…..you can help him or her out too. Even though you have a buddy you also need to be 100% self sufficient for when you’re separated on the water. This means you both have your own set of gear on board in case of emergency. This also means if the conditions look bad or are becoming worse than what you’re comfortable with, there’s no shame in not launching or letting your buddy know you want to head in.

B. Learn & practice the self rescue technique. Everybody falls out of their kayak at one time or another and you really need to have this down pat. Honestly if you cannot learn and consistently self rescue yourself 100% of the time…..then you have no business on a kayak in the ocean or bay.

C. Take a Kayak Safety Class. Sure you can read up about most things on the internet but that’s no substitute for a real world primer out on the water. You might save a lot more money than the class cost you the first time you head out by not dumping  in the surf and losing some of your gear into the water.

D. Check & Double Check the forecast conditions for the day you’re going out onto the water immediately prior to your launch. Know what to expect as far as the high & low tides, both their time and heights, the wind, swell, wind waves/chop, and how these three things are forecast to change from morning into the afternoon and evening. For example a big 6.5ft high tide followed by a big 0.0ft low tide will cause a big ripping current as the water flows back out. Knowing which direction this current is going to be flowing could be critical to your day on the water.

E. Make a Float Plan and communicate it to your friends or family detailing where you’ll be launching, what direction you’ll be headed, what time you expect to be back, etc.

Now the Gear.
1.PFD or personal flotation device. You’ve got to have this anyway to be Coast Guard legal. Wear it because it won’t help you if it’s stashed in or on your kayak and you become separated  from your kayak.

2.Dress for immersion. There’s a few ways to go here and each way has it’s benefits & it’s drawbacks. The safest is a full 3 or 4/3ml wetsuit and 5 or 7ml booties. This is the warmest gear if you end up in the water but on sunny warm days the most uncomfortable. Another way to go is a full dry suit top & bottom. This is also warm gear if you fall in but there is a risk that if water gets in, say if you fall in the water with some vent zippers open that you had that way to keep yourself cool sitting on the kayak, you won’t be as warm as a wetsuit and you could fill up with water affecting your buoyancy. As your dry suit ages it also may become less water tight. The middle ground is to sort of combine the two concepts and layer up. A 3ml farmer john, with relief zipper, can be worn by itself or with a pair of dry pants on top. A dry top or paddling jacket can be worn & a bright high visibility color like yellow is great for your top or jacket so others can see you. You can also add more layers with short or long sleeve nylon rash guards or thicker polypropylene shirts as well. A pair of wetsuit booties, a hat, and sunglasses completes the setup. Atlas Tough nitrile gloves are really nice but some 2ml or thicker neoprene gloves are warmer in the winter. This works well for safety and comfort as you can add or subtract clothing to match the conditions throughout the day. Do not wear any cotton clothing as it will get wet and not dry out making you cold all day. How you dress might be the most important thing you do if you fall in the water and become separated from your kayak. All of your other safety gear could fail or become lost/sunk but if you’re dressed for immersion you’ve still got a good chance for survival. Waders are for wading and not for full immersion. Use them at your own risk. Safety is not about what you can get away with in the best of conditions. It’s about what you’ll really need in the worst scenario.

3. VHF submersible radio. If you need help this is the best way to call for help when you’re on & especially in the water. Your cell phone might work when you’re sitting in the kayak but once you fall in the water the chances are you won’t be able to pull it out, get signal, and dial out with it inside of a dry bag. The other good reason to get one is that NCKA uses these for all of our fishing events & hookups to keep in touch on the water, let others know where the fish are biting, or that they’re heading in for the day. Make sure and charge your radio’s batteries the night before.

4.Compass plus GPS. Once you launch out away from land it’s easy to lose your bearings. A compass is helpful to get you going in the generally correct direction but a GPS will bring you precisely back to your launch even in thick fog. If your GPS dies you’ll have the compass for backup.

5. GPS plus compass. You need both so they both get a number! Make sure your batteries are fresh.

6. Whistle & signal mirror/c.d.  If your vhf radio dies you can use this to signal for help in between yelling HELP!

7. Hand pump. If your kayak springs a leak out on the water it will become unstable. If it gets enough water in the hull you may not be able to paddle back in or even keep it upright. You can’t just pull the drain plug at this point! Of course you also need a kayak with a deck hatch large enough to get the pump down into the hull to pump out the water. Your pump will also help you quickly pump out any normal water that gets in when you  launch or land thru waves. Quicker than pulling the plug!

8.Drinking water & food. Pretty self explanatory. At least a couple 20oz bottles and ‘power bars’ for a half day. Throw the empty bottles and wrappers in the hull to avoid the wind blowing the trash off into the water.

9.Paddle leash & extra paddle. Again pretty self explanatory. If you lose or break your main paddle…..well you’ve heard the expression “Up chit creek without a paddle”. Hobie boat owners are already covered with mirage drive & paddle onboard.

10.Knife attached to pfd. You’ll need this if you get caught up and need to cut off some line or leash.

11.Waterproof headlamp. If you end up staying out on the water past sundown you’ll need this to help you get back in. Also can be used to flash an S.O.S. in the dark. Comes in handy for gearing up your kayak in the pre-dawn hour also.

12. Internal flotation for the kayak. This could be your cart wheels, foam pool noodles, empty plastic bottles, or flotation bags. It’s a good idea to make sure the kayak cannot completely sink even when it’s pretty full of water. The half sunk kayak gives you something to hold onto and increase your visibility to possible rescuers while you’re in the water waiting to be rescued. This is assuming it’s not possible to just swim to safety and abandon the kayak. A bright high visibility color like yellow is a good choice when shopping for a new kayak so others can see you on the water.

These are the basics and it‘s a good idea to have a written checklist to go over before every launch. There’s a lot of other items you could bring aboard such as flares, air horns, etc but were not included in this list because they can fail in between the time they are bought and the time they are needed where as a whistle is less likely to fail. That doesn’t mean these items are a bad idea to have though just as backup. This may seem like a long list and it’s true that traveling light is a good concept but when the chips are down you will be prepared to face the worst if you have this gear and a good attitude. Thanks for reading this and we’ll see you OTW!
« Last Edit: November 21, 2010, 09:45:50 AM by agarcia »
..........agarcia is just an ex-kayaker


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Some additional safety gear.

tow rope - for assisting others (know how to use it)
bright orange safety flag - to keep yourself visible to power boaters and your fellow kayak fishermen.
Wire cutters - in case you hook yourself
« Last Edit: July 15, 2012, 12:27:44 PM by Mooch »