Paddlers new to the Blueway may overestimate their abilities and underestimate the risks. A general rule of trip planning is to “know before you go.” Know your route, your capabilities, your limits, and plan well. Expect to get wet. Awareness of local conditions is critical for a safe, enjoyable day on the water. Check the weather, water conditions and water temperature. Understand wave height, wind speed (Beaufort Scale), fetch and how it will impact your travel. Know the navigation “Rules of the Road.” Before taking to the water, file a float plan.
Obtain qualified instruction in on-water skills and take a boating safety class:
- Learn to properly handle your boat in local water conditions. Know how to self-rescue.
- Take lessons from a qualified outfitter – Empire Kayaks quick start and rescue clinics.
- Join a local paddling club or meetup for group excursions and skills clinics.
Each paddling occasion is unique, with varying distances, conditions and levels of difficulty. Plan your route accordingly and take all proper safety precautions before embarking.
- Always wear a US Coast Guard approved, properly fitted life jacket – Type III or V.
- Paddle with a group or a buddy
- Dress for the weather and water temperature. Do not wear cotton.
- Be visible, wear bright colors. Kayaks and canoes sit low in the water and are extremely difficult to see from a distance, especially in marginal conditions.
- If paddling at night, carry USCG approved 360-degree white light,
- Motorized boat and jet ski traffic can be heavy, especially on the weekends.
- Use caution when crossing channels; do so quickly and together as a group.
- Life jacket – USCG Type III or V PFD are used for kayaking.
- Cell phone, VHF radio, GPS unit
- Drinking water
- Signal device: safety whistle, mirror, flashlight, flares
- Sunglasses, wide-brim hat, sunscreen
- First aid kit
- Water shoes, spare clothes
- Blige pump
- Blueway Trail Map and navigational chart and compass
- Spare paddle
- 360-degree white light, red/green navigation light, and headlamp/flashlight are required for night paddle.