As the days get longer and the new paddling season approaches, it's time to dust the cobwebs off your boating gear and consider what safety kit you'll be carrying on the river next summer. Turning up without the basic safety stuff is turning a blind eye to your own safety on the water... as well as that of your mates. An empty boat won't make you any friends... in fact you will probably find that folk won't want to paddle with you anymore!
Common excuses for not having the right safety gear!
- "It's only the Hurunui - I don't need it!"
An incident could occur any place, any time. OK, you are unlikely to load your boat with a GPS system, laminated map and light sticks for Maori Gully, but everything listed below should really be in your boat on every river.
- "It's too expensive!"
If you can't afford the safety gear, then take up a different sport. Why should others take responsibility for you just because of your budget?
- "I'm a beginner!"
If you are on a club trip, then you're not a beginner – you are a Grade 2 paddler and part of the group! If you've come up through the WWCC system then your beginner course will have covered basic safety gear (and how to use it) and you will have had the opportunity to attend a (subsidised) white water safety course.
- "My boat is too small!"
If this really is the case, then buy a bigger boat.
What you should be carrying:
- Throw rope
- Long sling
- Airbags (front and rear)
- First aid kit
- Emergency blanket/bivvy bag
- Duct tape
- Screw-gate Karabiner
Other things to think about:
- Your buoyancy aid...
At the very least your buoyancy aid should be holding your knife, long sling and whistle – these items are pretty useless if they are neatly stored away in the back of your boat. A cow's tail is a pretty useful addition for towing boats and rescues and many paddlers also carry their throw rope and Z-drag gear on their buoyancy aid... they are working on the theory that if they lose their own boat they might want some gear to retrieve it with.
- A split paddle...
If you lose your paddle it will ruin your day, especially if you are a very long walk from the road! Paddler Zone will split your spare paddle for you, or you can order 2 and 4 piece splits – depending on the length of your boat.
- A small dry bag...
You need to keep your first aid kit and your lunch dry! Prices start around $30.
- A pruning saw...
This could be invaluable in an entrapment situation for cutting branches or a boat. Also useful for removing dangerous branches from favourite playspots!
- 1 x Pulley and at least 2 prussic loops.
This might sound like an awful lot of stuff but unless you're headed for the West Coast everything you need can be carried on your buoyancy aid and in a small dry bag! Spend an afternoon this winter getting your safety gear sorted out... this summer someone might thank you for it!