The ocean offers paddlers an opportunity to see the world from a little bit different perspective. When viewed from the cockpit of a kayak, it is enormous and sometimes a little overwhelming. It also puts our own size in perspective to the rest of the world. There is no other place on earth that offers offers such a diversity of wildlife, beauty and fury as what the ocean does. Enjoy it, but by all means respect it.
Salt water paddling will pose some unique challenges that are not found in on fresh water lakes. You need to be continuously aware of your surroundings at all times. Here are a few tips that can help make your next trip a safe and enjoyable time on the water.
Learn how to read the water- Doing so can help you judge the strength of the tide, wind speed and what is under the surface.
Learn to judge distance out on the water- Distance can be very deceiving out on the open water. An object that appears to be only a mile away can actually turn out to be much farther.
Remember that large ships displace huge amounts of water- This usually mean huge wakes. Be aware of all boat traffic, at all times. This means both in front of you and in back of you.
Learn what the the different markers mean- This will help you avoid dangerous areas.
Stay clear of the shipping channels- Channels are clearly marked by buoys and on navigational maps. Boats under power have the right of way while traveling the channels. Boats with a deep draft will not be able to leave the channels and they may not be able to steer clear of a kayak.
Make yourself visible- Wear bright colored clothing. A small craft like a kayak is hard to see in the surf.
Bring along some extra fresh water to clean up with- I have also found it useful to soak a cloth in water and then store it in a plastic bag so it can be used to clean the salt spray off from sunglasses.
Saltwater and air can wreck havoc on electronics- Invest in a water tight dry box to store your camera, cell phone or any other electronic devises. You can customize the foam padding in them to fit each individual item and they will also float in the event of a capsize.
Plan your trip with the tide- Constantly paddling against it will slow you down and cause fatigue. Fatigue will lead to poor judgment which will put you into harms way.
Many of the islands along the Maine coast are either privately owned or protected- Research the places you would like to explore before you head out on your trip and respect the landowners property. If exploring a public island, stay on the marked trails.
Always land your kayak on the protected side of an island- If possible, do not try and land your kayak in the surf. Doing so will not only pose a risk of personal injury, but the breaking waves can force your kayak into rocks causing extensive damage.
Always practice Leave No Trace; Carry In, Carry Out.
Observe wildlife from a distance.
Never take on water that is above your skill level- If you don't feel comfortable going somewhere, don't go.
Don't over extend yourself- Find a place to rest for a moment, this will help restore some of your lost energy and it will also give you a chance to observe the surrounding scenery.