Basic Kayak Safety

Before going out on the water, the proper preparation is necessary to have a safe and positive experience. If you have never been, it is a good idea to seek instruction from a qualified guide service or instructor. Also, if you are new to an area it is important to do your homework and research the location you are going.

Having a plan is paramount to a safe successful adventure. Leaving an float plan for a friend or family member is a tool that should be utilized every time you go off the grid. An action plan consists of:

  • Where you are going
  • Who you are going with/ how many people
  • When on the water (time period)
  • When you get of the water

It is highly important to remember water, snacks, and sunblock, no matter how long the trip. Remember, Gilligan and the Skipper only planned for “a three hour tour”.

Keeping the right equipment and safety devices on hand is necessary when on the water. Before going out you should always check your gear to make sure it is in proper working order. Some basic safety necessities include:

  • PFD
  • Paddle Leash
  • Reflective mirror
  • Whistle/horn
  • Compass-map and/or GPS
  • Paddle Float
  • Bilge Pump
  • First Aid Kit
  • Water
  • Flash-light
  • Dry bag to carry it all in
  • Dry change of clothes (wicking & warming)

Weather also has a large influence on outdoor activities, specifically water based. It is important to check the weather extensively before and during your trip as conditions can change rapidly. This includes storms, winds, currents and tides.

When kayaking the possibility of falling out exists. No matter if you are the best kayaker in the world, at some point in time falling in the drink is inevitable. By following two simple rules, you can keep your chance at survival at 99.9%. Make sure that you are ALWAYS WEARING your PFD (personal floatation device) when on the water. It needs to be on your body not just in your possession. Secondly, stay with your vessel whether it is capsized or upright. All kayaks, canoes, and small craft come from the manufacturer with floatation build within. Staying with your boat gives you something to hold onto in addition to making you more noticeable.

Finally, paddling in a group can be one of the best ways to stay safe while having fun adventures with friends. If a few simple precautions are taken, you can make a safe and positive experience.

For a quick video lesson on kayak safety check out the following YouTube video at

Don & Diane Harty own Mahanaim Adventures.  They specialize in helping families and groups to have “Positive & Memorable” outdoor adventures.  Whether these are wildlife view adventure, camping adventure or a simple kayaking adventure.  They provide kayaking adventures on Town Creek, Cape Fear River, Fort Fisher Basin, Masonboro Island, Black River, Holly Shelter Creek and Moores Creek.  Contact them at for more information about all of their adventures. (wilderness survival info)

This Blog was Written by Sam Law. I am Mahanaim Advenures new intern for the summer of 2016. I am a Park and Recreation Management Student at East Carolina, Go Pirates! I love the the ocean and outdoors more than anything. This coming summer i will be writing a blog similar to this each week to let everyone know about the awesome adventures and encounters we have. I hope to see ya’ll out paddling this summer.


How to Choose A Kayaking Paddle


I often get asked about how I choose a paddle for kayaking or what the difference between this paddle and another paddle is.  So, I figured that we would spend some time talking about paddles in this blog.

Kayak paddles vary in styles for the different kind of water you will be paddling.  Usually, the shorter the paddle the better is for quick stroked needed in swift water and the longer the paddle, the better for touring and for longer boats.  Also a longer paddle is needed for a wider boat.  Also one thing to consider on a paddle is the weight of the paddle, especially if you paddle for long periods of time.  Always remember, the lighter the paddle the better, but the lighter the paddle, the more expensive the

When selecting a paddle, the most important thing to consider is the comfort of the paddle in your hands.  The better paddles have an oval shaft that provide better control and comfort and will help you get the correct angel.  A lot of kayakers have straight shafts paddles, but there are a few designs that are bent at the grips to ease the strain on the wrists.

The length of the paddle will be determined by several factors like; type of water you will be paddling, the width of your kayak, you size and length of the blades on your paddle and your preference.  The majority of the paddles we use with our tours are between 210 and 230 centimeters long.  The general rule of thumb for choosing a paddle is to hold the paddle over your head horizontally.  With your elbows at a 90 degree angle, you hands should be 6 to 8 inches from the blades of your paddle.

Now for the blades of your paddle; if you have not noticed the blades of the paddle come in various designs.  The larger the blade, the more power you will get out of your stroke; the smaller the blade, the less power per stroke and thereby more gentle to your arms and shoulder joints.   Most blades are spooned for increase water resistance, helping with a more powerful stroke.  Also, some blades are asymmetrical.  This design is for balance of the force on the top and bottom of the blade when paddling and for angle placement in the water.

One last thing about paddles, you have choice between a single and two piece paddles.  I would recommend a two piece paddle.  The reason or this is that you can choose the angle of your paddle with these paddles.  For beginners, it is usually better to have your blades parallel with each other; then as you become for comfortable with kayaking you can then angle the paddle for feathering of your paddle in the water.  Feathering is important for longer distance paddling, especially if you are paddling into the wind for long distances.

Join Mahanaim Adventure for one of our upcoming kayaking adventures or why not schedule a private kayaking adventure for you and your family or friends.  We even offer Team Building Kayaking Events.