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Avoid Collision
With Kayaks


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RBS Outreach Department News

Avoiding Collisions with Kayaks

Posted on 3 July 2012 by Bruce White DVC-BL

In the past few years, there have been several tragic examples of small
boats, notably kayaks, which were run down by larger, fast-moving boats. A
group of prominent engineers recently presented the paper, "Visibility
Factors in Small Boat Collisions," at the 2012 International Marine
Forensics Symposium sponsored by the Society of Naval Architects and Marine
Engineers. This paper offers some good suggestions on how to avoid being run
over in smaller boats-kayaks-and, conversely, how to avoid running over
small boats.

The suggestions on how to avoid being run over were based on a series of
tests on the water using volunteers in kayaks and powerboats.
Researchers found that kayaks aren't likely to be spotted by a powerboat
until they're a quarter-mile away, which can quickly lead to an "extremis
condition." The sooner a small boat is spotted, the better.

Seventy-five percent of the powerboat operators first reported seeing
"paddle flash" when they saw the boat. A white or light colored paddle blade
was much easier to see than a dark blade. The remaining 25 percent saw the
luminous jersey that was being worn by the volunteers.

Among the recommendations to kayakers-
1) Carry an audible signaling device.
2) Wear fluorescent life vests or shirts.
3) Use paddles with white or light colored blades.
4) Avoid kayaking in areas with high boat traffic.
5) Use flags that can be mounted on kayaks.

Conversely, for owners of larger boats: wear sunglasses; keep a proper
lookout; and, be especially alert in areas where you are likely to encounter
smaller craft.

Source: "Seaworthy, the BoatU.S. Marine Insurance and Damage Avoidance
Report," July 2012, p. 4.

Boating Is Fun, Let Us Show You How

Stf/C Lee R. Chasse
USPS VSC Program Chair

Updated: 06/12/2012

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