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Safety Gear Safety Gear Article 2019 - read this. It is based on extensive experience.

Safety/SafetyGear Discussion 5/28/2018

David Morrison's personal on-water surfski safety kit

Dawid Mocke on Safety


IDs on Boats and Gear

This is as much for would-be rescuers as for you. You stand a better chance of getting your lost gear back if you have identification printed on it. But you may also save someone a search mission to find you if they can get in contact with you when they discover any of your equipment.

You can also visually distinguish your gear with a tape color and/or pattern - particularly helpful when multiple paddler's gear is loaded in a trailer or piled on shore close together.

Clothing/Safety Wear/Visibility



PFDs / Buoyancy Aids






It is a good idea to carry a reliable visual signaling device particularly if you boat at night, and/or alone, and/or in waters that are challenging, remote, or have volatile water or weather conditions. Unfortunately flares are often or even usually kept too long to be reliable (Australia has a good program where they replace flares that have reached their expiration date - for free). Good electronic light signals may be getting to the point where they are as visible or better than flares, while also being more reliable.

  • Flares
  • Flare Review
  • Discussion
  • USA regs
    • Boats over 16 ft have flare carrying requirements with the following exceptions that let surfskis off the hook for expensive fines:
      • Manually propelled boats
      • Boats participating in organized events



Tow Rope

Carrying a tow rope can help save equipment, paddlers and yourself. You can make tow rope with 20 feet of cord and two light carabiners. Clip the one carabiner to your rear handle and the other to the disabled ski's front handle or foot brace. If you attached it to the foot brace the paddler in the disabled ski will need to steer. If you do not have a rear handle you can add a secure attachment point using well nuts and pad eyes (carabiners are too large for small pad eyes so also add a cord loop or something larger to hook the biner to) or some other type of secure mount (all parts should be marine grade))

Click to enlarge


  • Like so much of the recovery and rescue technique and equipment described in these pages, having the equipment does not at all mean you know how to use it effectively or where you will bump hard into its limitations. Are you sure towing when attached to a foot brace will work? What if the other boat's paddler can not stay upright and in their boat to assist in steering? Would towing then be greatly assisted if you can jam a thin pad under the towed boat's rudder to keep it straight while being towed? (just as we recommend as one way to deal with a broken rudder cable). Or can you carry something to wrap (and not slip) around the front of a boat lacking a handle that you can clip into that will work better than attaching to a foot brace?

Broken Rudder Line Repair (Kit for on Water Fix)

  • On Water Fix Losing control of your rudder on a run can leave you stranded



safety_gear.txt · Last modified: 2023/10/17 18:47 (external edit)