Virginia Seaside Water Trail: Paddle Safely!

Only you can ensure your safety by being prepared!  When done safely, kayaking is a wonderful way to experience the Seaside!

Before you get wet…

 paddle image Only you can ensure your safety by being prepared and knowing your limitations.
 paddle image Respect the power of the sea and avoid paddling in restricted visibility, including rain, fog, and darkness.
 paddle image If you area beginner or are unsure of your skills, consider paddling with a certified ecotour guide or another local outfitter - listed in the yellow pages for Accomack and Northampton Counties.

Equipment: 

 paddle image Always wear a high visibility U.S. Coast Guard approved personal floatation device (PFD).
 paddle image Carry a whistle and signal mirror for emergency signaling.
 paddle image Bring an extra paddle, spray skirt, pump, sponge, and knife.
 paddle image Use sponsons for emergency stability (Dictionary.com defines sponsons as “one of several structures that project from the side of a boat or ship imparting stability in the water”).
 paddle image Dress properly for the prevailing conditions and bring additional clothing, food, and water for changing conditions.
 paddle image Wear a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and insect repellent.
 paddle image Bring a compass and/or a GPS and the appropriate NOAA navigation chart in a waterproof case. USGS topographic maps area also useful, but they do not show channel markers.
 paddle image Cell phone coverage may be unreliable, so bring a VHF marine radio in a waterproof case for emergencies and to monitor weather.
 paddle image

Add a bright colored flag to your kayak so that you are more visible to boaters, especially if you are kayaking through tall marsh grasses.

Planning:

 

paddle image

Plan your trip based on your skills and the weather and tides. Wind and strong tidal currents can make paddling difficult. Marine weather and tide information is available on VHF marine radio and at http://erh.noaa.gov/akq/    under Wakefield, Virginia and Wachapreague. 

 paddle image

Leave a “Float Plan” with a responsible friend and on your vehicle’s dashboard.  Include departure and return times, the number of people, and the number and color of kayaks.

Commercial Vessels: 

paddle image  Stay away from commercial vessels and avoid crossing channels, especially in restricted visibility. Large vessels often cannot deviate from their course, and fishing vessels should be expected to operate on highly erratic course as they tend their gear.

Additional safety information is available from the following organizations:

              American Canoe Association, www.acanet.org - 703.451.0141

              United States Coast Guard, www.uscgboating.org  

NOAA logo 

For comments or questions concerning this program's web pages, contact Virginia Witmer.

This website is provided by the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program through a Coastal Zone Management Act grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US Department of Commerce. 

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000


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