-- Last Updated: Feb-06-13 11:55 AM EST --
If they get into safety stuff, you will find that they are generally talking about lights and other resources that are not apt for kayaks in terms of legal requirements, size or other features. More on that below. But the really good part of what you will be learning is things like identifying markers for channels and hazards, rules for traveling around harbors and general Mayday type procedures.
I suggest that you pick up a copy of Chart 1 at a marine store if you can before the course - it is a reference for all of the markers and signals.
The places where anyone in kayaks has the biggest gap from powered boat, IMO, are:
Safety equipment - everything has to be smaller and more waterproof than on a motor boat. On-water self-rescue tools and considerations are mostly different. Some things really have to obn your body, or your PFD actually. Yellow lights, if you end up in the water a laser flare, things like that.
VHF - Need one with a submersible rating for a kayak, they can be less careful with that in a motor boat. And obviously smaller since it'll be hand-held.
Lighting - Motor boats need to carry red/green running lights, sailboats need to have a white light showing 360 degrees when anchored in any body of water I know. Paddle boats have different requirements, can vary by state, but in most places we paddle a 360 degree visible white light replaces the colored running lights. There is controversy around this one. Some people prefer having battery-powered running lights on their kayaks, others frown on because of the risk of someone mistaking a kayak for a boat with the speed to move of a motored craft. Best to see what the more responsible paddlers around you find works best.
Right of way: Forget everything they say about who has right of way over others and take it down to one simple rule. Everything is bigger and faster than a paddle boat so it can kill you. Use the markers to stay out of the channel, in the shallow water that a paddle boat can exploit.
You will find that people in motor boats grossly underestimate the capacity of a kayak in properly skilled hands to mange difficult conditions. But since you are newbies, you lack the second half of that equation and will be paddling pretty conservatively anyway. Get your info on what a kayak can handle from kayak folks, and don't get involved in discussions of seaworthiness with the power boat folks. If there are any sailboaters out there, might be worth some of your time. There are many similarities than diff's in sailboat and kayak hull design, we just don't have a big heavy keel sticking down.
That's the big stuff. Again, congrats on taking this course. I wish more people would, it'd reflect better those of us who try paddle responsibly around motored craft.
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