Hunting Kayak – Many sailors and boaters enjoy the solitude afforded by taking a hunting kayak out single-handed and sailing alone. The water is certainly a calming and yet exciting experience for most of us. However, when an accident occurs, a lone hunting kayak sailor has fewer resources available to them to survive a boating misfortune. Boaters would be well served by following the buddy system advocated by the Boy Scouts. Always take a buddy along for any outdoor activity. At a minimum, a lone hunting kayak sailor should exercise extreme prudence in their seamanship and understand the risks of sailing alone.
Maritime Boating Officers in Australia’s New South Wales region reported a rash of four solo hunting kayak incidents in the spring. One boater slipped on-deck, broke a hip, and fell overboard. Their powerboat continued to circle under full power and presented a clear danger to the injured sailor and those around the boat. Officials were able to stop the running craft by fouling the propeller with a line thrown in front of the boat. There are a number of engine kill devices available to boaters.
Statistics show men are more likely than women to be involved in solo boating fatalities are. One major cause is physiological, men are likely to relieve themselves over the transom and fall overboard. Fifty percent of young male drowning victims are reported to have an unzipped fly. It is a perverse, but chilling statistic. Other causes for falls include standing up in a small boat or reaching over to grasp a fish or anchor.
There are many precautions lone hunting kayak sailors can take to ensure their safety:
Wear a lifejacket or personal floatation device while onboard
Use an engine kill switch and keep the lanyard connected to your person while underway
Seek out a vessel safety check (VSC) inspection from the Coast Guard Auxiliary
Use a pre-departure checklist and check the weather
File a float plan with a trusted party
Stay aware of your location and maintain situational awareness
Avoid the use of alcohol while boating alone
Carry a personal survival kit and fully understand the use of visual distress signals
Install a 406 MHz Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPRIB)
Solo boaters take on additional responsibility for their personal safety. The joy of the ocean solitude is braced by the reality of the consequences of poor decision making. Consider taking a boating safety course or better yet bring a friend along on your next sailing trip.
Recreational Boating Safety Trends
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chairman Mark V. Rosenker spoke with members of the Marine Retailers Association of America (MRAA) at their annual conference held in Las Vegas this week concerning changes by the marine industry and state governments to improve boating safety. Rosenker’s message is that progress is being made to improve boating safety, but much more work is required reduce boating fatalities and accidents.
Personal Flotation Devices (PFD) – The focus of the Chairman’s remarks was on improving the use of PFDs. The use of personal flotation devices has long been a priority of the NTSB and that mandatory wear of PFDs by children is a must. All of the state should undertake efforts to increase and enhance the use of lifejackets.
NTSB Most Wanted Safety Improvements List – State recreational boating safety was retained on the NTSB’s Most Wanted Safety Improvements List. Specific recommendations to the states include lifejacket wear by children, boating safety education and operator licensing. Improvements in PFD wear can be tied to better boating safety education and Rosenker stressed the Agency’s goal of encouraging new boating safety initiatives in six states, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Utah, North Carolina and Minnesota.
Speaking to the MRAA members, Rosenker recognized their support of boating safety, “For more than two and one half decades the National Transportation Safety Board has been pleased to work with the MRAA in advancing recreational boating safety on our Nation’s waterways.” He later encouraged the audience to “further improve boating safety for the rest of the year and into the new year, so that we together can further reduce recreational boating fatalities, injuries, and accidents.”
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