Independence day is one of the busiest boating days of the year. Watching the fireworks show from the water is one of the best ways to enjoy your 2019 4th of July experiences.
The weather in early July is typically hot, so it’s not uncommon for folks to take a periodic dip in the water and cool off. However, after a few drinks jumping in the water after being exposed to heat, repeated motion from a boat, and inebriation from alcohol can present itself with dangerous and often deadly consequences.
Kayaking on the 4th of July: Practice Safe Boating
Kayaking at night
If you plan to watch the fireworks from your kayak, you will most likely need to operate your kayak at night. As a former boarding officer in the U.S. Coast Guard and a kayak enthusiast, I am often asked the following question:
Is it legal to kayak at night?
It depends on the state and the body of water. From a Coast Guard perspective; if you operate a kayak at night using only your kayak paddles with no fixed trolling motor, yes. This means, from a federal government standpoint, yes it is legal to kayak at night. However, you must follow U.S.C.G rule 25:
A vessel under oars may exhibit the lights prescribed in this rule for sailing vessels, but if she does not, she shall have ready at hand an electric torch or lighted lantern showing a white light which shall be exhibited in sufficient time to prevent collision.
However, U.S.C.G. rule 30 makes an exception. Kayaks at anchor outside of a channel are not required to show lights. There are safety concerns that you must assume:
- Boaters cannot see you
- Alcohol is popular on the fourth of July
The Coast Guard and State Police do their best every fourth of July to keep everyone safe, but year after year, boating accidents happen.
If you plan to kayak at night, keep flares and a sound producing device on you at all times. You’d be surprised to learn how many “flare sighting” calls we (Coast Guard) gets on Independence Day.
Anchor Your Kayak
Since your kayak must be at anchor to be exempt from U.S.C.G. rule 25, be sure to bring a strong grapnel kayak anchor with you on your 4th of July trip. We have spoken at length on anchoring your kayak and rigging your anchor for a quick release, so read our kayak anchoring guide to help keep you safe this Independence Day.
Stability with Kayak Outriggers
Kayak outriggers help your kayak stay balanced in choppy waters and large wakes. Stability for your kayak is key for staying safe on the fourth of July, especially if you plan to get into the water. This fourth of July, consider packing inflatable kayak outriggers in your list of kayak safety supplies.
Getting in the water
Wear a Life Jacket
I don’t care how great of a swimmer you are or how calm the water is – if you plan to get into the water, wear a life jacket. A type III personal flotation device (PFD) can save your life. Many life vests are uncomfortable and look stupid, however, they will save your life. If you want to look and feel stylish while in the water, invest in a new life vest.
It’s always good practice to learn about kayak safety before entering the water. Sometimes, kayaks capsize. When a kayak tips over, there is a certain process you’ll want to take to get back into your kayak safely. Take the time to read our guide to help you re-enter a kayak after it tips over. After you read the article, make sure you have a good hand bilge pump for kayaks aboard your kayak at all time. Water can get into your kayak and ruin your trip.
Attach a Whistle to your Life Jacket
Most boating whistles will attach to your Type III PFD. Should you injure yourself or lose your friends, a whistle can help get you found. For relatively cheap, you can get a survival whistle that comes with a built-in flashlight.
Stay With a Group of Friends
Do not enter the water by yourself. If you do, make sure someone can see you at all times. Don’t swim off or go silent. It can be very difficult to spot a person in the water at night – especially if not suited with the proper nighttime boating equipment.
We at MericanMen wish you all a happy Fourth of July and hope you enjoy your time camping and on the water as much as we will. Please share this article with your friends and stay safe out there!
In case you haven’t heard, we’re having a huge 4th of July Sale on all camping supplies and kayak gear. Get up to 50% off on all kayak accessories and camping gear that include kayak stands, sleeping gear and more by using MERICA19 at checkout!
Get more information about our 4th of July Deals on Kayak Gear.