Staying Safe in Your Sea Kayak

Staying Safe in Your Sea Kayak

There are over 7000 kilometres of coastline in Ireland. The coastline here in Ireland is beautiful from land but even more stunning from the sea. 

Kayaking is one of the best ways to explore the coastlines around our island. It keeps you fit, allows you to see the landscape from a different perspective, and it’s a great hobby that’s good for your physical and mental health. However, the sea can be a cruel place if it’s not treated with respect. 

Safety is extremely important when you head out into the sea to navigate the coastlines from a small vessel. It’s important that you’re confident on the water, know what you’re doing, and prepare effectively to stay safe while you’re out among the waves.

In this article, we’ll be looking at how to stay safe in your kayak on the ocean. We’ll be looking at why sea kayaks have different designs and colours compared to freshwater kayaks as well as outlining five tips for sea safety in your kayak. 

Why Are Our Sea Kayaks Such Vibrant Colours?

If you’ve scrolled through our store you may have noticed that our sea kayaks aren't available in the same variety of colours and patterns that our freshwater kayaks are. We offer our sea kayaks in vibrant solid colours and there’s a good reason for this.

The ocean can be a beautiful place but it deserves the utmost respect. Safety is paramount when sea kayaking and this is why our kayaks come in vibrant high visibility colours rather than the camo patterns and matt colours that you find our freshwater kayaks in. 

Having a vibrant hi-vis kayak makes it easy for other boat users, people from shore, and the coast guard to see you. And, in the worst case, if you capsize and call for help, it will be much easier for a rescue party to find you. 

In any case, no matter how calm the conditions, you should never venture out in a kayak with dull colours if you’re paddling along the coast. Sea kayaks are designed in these bright colours for safety reasons and you should strive to be as visible as possible when out in the ocean.

Sea kayaks are also designed in a different way to freshwater kayaks. Sea kayaks have a sleeker longer design compared to your average freshwater kayak. This helps with stability in the ocean while improving the kayak’s tracking so it’s easier to paddle long distances on rougher waters.

So, now you know how the ocean kayak is different from a freshwater kayak and know why they are the colours that they are, you should learn about some essential safety tips you’ll need for sea kayaking…

5 Tips to Stay Safe on Your Kayak in the Ocean

1. Keep an Eye on the Weather Conditions 

Before heading out on the ocean it’s extremely important to observe the weather conditions. You can do this by checking online forecasts. Look out for wet weather as well as wind direction and wind strength. The weather can increase swell, create larger waves, and ultimately make things much more dangerous on the coast.

As long as you plan your trip around the weather, you should be able to stay safe on the water. If ever you think the weather conditions are too bad or the sea looks rough when you arrive, don’t go out. It’s far better to stay at home than put yourself at risk out at sea. 

Things can quickly get out of hand on the coast when you’re paddling in a small kayak in bad weather, especially on the coast. Treat the weather with respect and monitor it closely.

2. Know Your Tide Times

Tide times are an important factor to consider when you’re heading to the coast for some kayaking. The tide affects the coast line. It can expose underwater hazards, hide underwater hazards, and cause dangerous swells along cliff sides. 

It’s important to educate yourself on how the tides affect the coastline near you and to know the tide times. You can use websites such as to keep up to date on the tide times in your area.

3. Wear the Appropriate Buoyancy Aid

One of the most important and (hopefully) obvious safety precautions to take is wearing a buoyancy aid when you head out in your kayak on the sea. If you’re heading out sea kayaking already, I hope you’re wearing some kind of buoyancy aid or life jacket.

Buoyancy aids or personal flotation devices (PFDs) are commonly used by kayakers, canoers, and sailors that paddle around the coastlines. They help aid flotation rather than keep you afloat. This makes it easier to swim back to shore but they won’t keep you afloat with your head above the water if you go unconscious.

A life jacket is made to save your life in an emergency. You’ll find life jackets on offshore vessels mostly because if something goes wrong out there you need to be able to stay afloat without wasting energy. Life jackets will keep you afloat with your head above the water even if you’re unconscious. However, they aren’t easy to swim with.

Which kind of floatation device you use comes down to your swimming capabilities and how far from the coast you venture. I assume most of you reading this are strong swimmers (being interested in kayaking) so a buoyancy aid will likely be the safest option providing you don’t stray too far from shore.

4. Notify & Stay in Contact with Land 

Before you head out on the ocean you should notify someone and let them know where you're going, when you're going, and how long for. Keep in contact with them throughout your trip and notify them of any problems.

Let your “land buddy” know when you’re on land, heading out on the coast, and when you’re back. This will ensure that someone always knows roughly where you are in case anything goes wrong. In case they don’t hear from you when you’re meant to be back on land, they can call the coast guard to commence a search and rescue.

5. Paddle in Pairs or Groups When Possible

Consider paddling in pairs or groups when you head out on the coast in your kayak. Kayaking is far safer in numbers because if something goes wrong, your buddy can help directly. 

It’s especially important to head out in groups or pairs (in separate kayaks) if you’re a beginner, at least until your confidence and skill set improve.

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