Paddle safety

Because of their small size and instability, paddle craft operators are vulnerable in the water. Paddle craft are also involved in incidents caused by other vessel operators, like incidents resulting from a lack of proper lookout or excess speed. It’s your responsibility, along with other vessels, to keep a proper lookout and help avoid collisions.

When paddling, you should always wear a lifejacket, be prepared for the conditions and check the weather ahead of your trip. If the weather changes while you are on the water, change your course and find a more sheltered site or return to shore. Know the limits of your craft, as well as your own paddle abilities as paddling in certain weather conditions such as high wind can be extremely tiring.

Increasing the visibility of your paddle craft is also important. Consider wearing a combination of bright colours across your clothing, lifejacket, paddle and craft to best ensure you are seen.

 

Tips to stay safe:

Your craft and equipment

  • Be bright and be seen. Make sure you and your craft are easily visible at all times. Wear bright clothing and a bright lifejacket and choose a brightly coloured hull if possible.
  • Always wear a lifejacket.
  • At night display the right lights to help others see you.

Before you head out

  • Ensure your craft is suitable for your ability and the conditions before you go
  • Check the weather, and if the weather or water looks rough, postpone your paddle or pick a more sheltered location
  • Tell someone where you are going and estimated time of return.

While you are out on the water 

  • Watch out for larger vessels – never try to cross ahead, always pass behind larger craft
  • Stay close to the shore wherever possible – keep out of the way of larger vessels
  • Choose a paddle location that isn’t too busy with larger vessels
  • Head out on the water with a buddy or stay in a group if possible – it’s more fun and it’s safer.


More information on safety equipment requirements for paddle craft can be found in the Boating Handbook
https://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/documents/maritime/licence/boating-handbook.pdf