Consider having the following on board to help keep your paddling safer. Being unprepared can place yourself or your paddling buddies at risk.
It’s helpful to have a PFD w/ a large pocket for the most critical items (cell phone, small polypro hat and gel) and a rear deck bag for additional items listed below. Wesley Echols and I have been paddling for years together and it is reassuring to know that he always comes well prepared.
1. Energy drink w/electrolytes 25 oz./hr of expected paddle duration
–keep extra gels available to avoid the “bonk”
2. Calf to boat leash or paddle leash
3. PFD w/ large pocket(s)
4. Small polypro hat
–in a ziplock bag
5. Gloves and pogies
–loss of use of hands often comes long before hypothermia
6. NRS mesh rear deck bag (to store all these items)
–strapped under rear deck bungies
7. Signaling Device
–handheld orange smoke flares sealed in double ziplock bags for a day signal and pencil flares and multi-use deck light for evening with strobe and “running lights” settings
8. Cell phone in double waterproof bag or case.
9. Sun protection
–hat, sunblock, etc.
10. A 1″ square of thin flat rubber to wedge the back end of your rudder in a fixed position if a rudder cable fails
–this will help provide at least minimal directional control
11. Dress for or have available in your deck bag clothing for the possibility of extended immersion
12. VHF Radio
–know how to use it and be able to report your exact position
13. Reflective tape affixed to several parts of the deck
–your hull can be spotted from a great distance by a flashlight or searchlight
–to find your way home. I’ve been out in the fog without these and ended up far from where I expected to be–luckily with just my pride wounded.
15. Float Plan
–leave your expected paddle route and an est. time of return w/ a person who will initiate a search if necessary.