Paddling Solo

Taken from the book “Sea Kayaking Safety”


There has long been a debate about the relative merits of paddling solo versus paddling in a group.  There is little doubt that learning to kayak and gaining experience is best done in a group, but what about once you have some experience?

People often say “never kayak alone” or “less than three, there never should be”.  It’s easy to understand why people would say this. But as with most blanket statements it doesn’t fit every case and, it completely ignores the fact that kayaking alone can be safe—and incredibly enjoyable.

To say that you should never kayak alone if you are a beginner is probably a more reasonable statement.  Simply put it is just safer to have people around you to help out if things start to go wrong.  The principle of how to get yourself back into a kayak if you capsize and wet exit are straightforward enough but it does take practice.

Dressing for immersion, always wearing your PFD, having your own paddle float and pump are givens whenever you get on the water whether alone or in a group.  Before you paddle alone you should also know, be able to do and need to have the following things:

  • Reliable self rescue skills.
  • Solo launching and landing skills.
  • Directional awareness (navigation).
  • Spare paddle.
  • Means of calling for help, vhf radio & mobile phone and PLB.
  • Repair kit.
  • First Aid kit.
  • Familiarity with the route (when beginning solo paddling)
  • Competence with understanding the environment as discussed in this book.
  • Clear information of your intentions left with a responsible person on land.

Stating the obvious solo means alone, if something happens whilst paddling solo you need to have the skills and attitude to deal with it.  If you go out with the belief “If I get into trouble I will just call for help”, then you are missing the point and also you are a liability to yourself and whoever may have to come out and rescue you.