Kayak fact sheet 5

Signalling in the water

These signals are used to communicate between groups of people on the river. Before embarking on a trip, take time to familiarise yourself with the signals and make sure that the entire group knows what the signals mean. When the first person in the group signals, it is the responsibility of others in the group to relay the signal. For communication to work, boaters must stay in visual contact.

This signals a potential hazard ahead. Form a horizontal bar with your paddle or outstretched arms. Move this bar up and down to attract attention. Those seeing this signal should pass it back to others in the party. Wait for “all clear” signal before proceeding. When this signal is used, paddlers should either pull to shore or catch an eddy.

Come ahead, in the absence of other directions, proceed centre. Form a vertical bar with your paddle or one arm held high above your head. Paddle blade should be turned flat for maximum visibility. To signal direction, or a preferred course through a rapid around an obstruction, lower the paddle 45 degrees toward the side of the river with the preferred route. Never point to the object you wish to avoid. Always point positive.

Assist the signaler as quickly as possible. Give three long blasts on a whistle while waving a paddle, helmet or life vest over your head in a circular motion. If a whistle is unavailable, just use the signal.

Used to signal that everyone in the group is fine or the situation is under control. Hand pats the top of the head.

For more info about paddling techniques, eddies, etc, visit http://www.gorp.com/gorp/activity/paddling/pad_how.htm.