Preparation Guidelines for an Extended Trip – George Reeman.

George heading for Sandy Cape, Fraser Island.

After you have decided where you are going and where you will be camping, check if camping permits are required and if there is water available.
Tide times are very important. This may determine when you go. The further north you go the bigger the tides, and the harder it is to paddle against it.

KAYAK

Make sure the seat and back rest are comfortable.
All hatch covers should fit well, be water tight, and are tied on.
Deck lines must be in good condition.
A painter, attached to the bow, is excellent if required for mooring.
The most common problem on extended trips are rudders. Make sure the rudder is securely attached and the foot pedals operate freely; rudder cables are not worn or frayed. If so, replace them.
Check your paddle and leash.
Make sure your spray skirt fits the cockpit, it does not leak and can be removed easily in the case of a roll-over.

SAFETY EQUIPMENT

Personal Flotation Devices (PFD)
Make sure it is comfortable. Pockets are important to carry other safety items. A large pocket in the back of the PFD to carry a hydration pack is a good idea.
Personal Locating Beacon (PLB)
This should be carried in a PFD pocket and secured to the PFD. Check if your PLB floats upright when activated. Some do not. The aerial must be upright to send the signal to the satellite.
VHF Radio
Good for communicating with each other. Select a channel that is not common with local stations to contact each other, switch to dual watch so you can listen to Channel 16, the Emergency channel. On dual watch, Channel 16 will tell you which channel to change to for the weather report. You should also have a direct button to Channel 16 on your radio for emergencies. Notify the local VMR that you are in the area, and for how long, and what channel they use. Also, if you return to that area, don’t forget to cancel the watch with VMR. Hand held VHF radios are only good for about 3kms or line of sight, depending on the power of the set.

Remember to make it as easy as possible for a rescue boat or helicopter to find you.

Other safety devices that can be carried in the pockets of your PFD are:
A whistle, mirror, flare, day or night space blanket, and sea dye. Any of these are good for attracting attention.
A short tether line to secure yourself to the kayak is also a good idea, if you are offshore.
Plus, a survival knife.

The above items should be carried on you, not stored in a hatch. Many very experienced paddlers have lost or almost lost their lives because their safety equipment was stored in a hatch or cockpit.

Other equipment to be carried should include:- spare paddle, stored on the deck; emergency tow rope in the throw bag; electric bilge pump, backed up by a hand pump; sponge or bailing bucket. In case of minor damage, it is a good idea to carry a small dry bag containing bits & pieces, such as – small fibreglass repair kit, Dynasteel bog for plugging holes, duct tape, electrical ties, spare cord and a multi-tool.
Navigation
You should always carry a map of the area. GPS is the common means of navigating these days, but a deck mounted compass is always an easy way of checking your heading. There is another device for informing people where you are, called SPOT. This small device acts like a satellite phone. It can be programmed into one or more home computers. If you press the transmit button it will show on the home computer exactly where you are. It also has a help button, if when pressed it will indicate on the home computer that you require help, and they can notify the authorities. There are many small power cells on the market these days that can be charged at home, and used to recharge radios, GPS, mobile phones, and other devices while on a trip. Also small Solar panels.

FOOD and CLOTHING

Most items i.e. food, clothing, camping gear, should be carried in dry bags. Always carry 2 days extra food in case you are held up by weather.
Other protective items are a hat or cap with back of the neck protection, sunscreen, insect repellant.

WATER

For carrying water I find a bag with carry strap, containing a 4lt wine bladder, can be hung in a tree for use. Depending on the length of the trip, additional 4lt wine bladders are ideal. They pack in better than 10l water bags. Always pack your water in the bottom of the kayak. A good place to carry water is in front of the rudder pedals. Don’t end up with your kayak bow -heavy when it is packed.
Carry straps:- For a loaded kayak, you require 2 carry straps. These can be made from seat belt webbing, with a loop sewn on each end approx 130cm. The straps should be threaded under the deck lines at each end, to prevent slipping off. If you have 6 people, you can use a third strap under the cockpit. This doesn’t need loops. This is useful if you need to carry any distance.

The above information is a guide only.

Cheers, George.

End of the Day - Fraser Island.

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