Tourists and locals alike seem always to confuse a kayak with a canoe. I bet you already want to know the difference between these two. The difference is simply related to the paddler’s position and the type of paddle used.
In a kayak, the paddler is in a sitting position, while in a canoe, the paddler is in a kneeling place. A double-bladed paddle is used in a kayak to maneuver on alternate sides then moving forward. In a canoe, a single-bladed paddle is used to move the boat in a straight direction.
To further differentiate the two boats, let us have a short overview of what is kayaking. Kayaking is a watersport that uses a double-bladed paddle for operating a kayak.
Here are some of the kayaking safety equipment required by the Coast Guard: Personal Flotation Devices, Flotation Bags, Sponsons, Sprayskirts, and Helmets.
If you want to own a kayak, make sure to choose the best all-around kayak so you can use it for either recreation or racing. (Read Best All Around Kayak)
Canoeing is a sport that is also considered by some as a recreation. Canoeing refers to the use of any small and narrowboats that is propelled by using a single-bladed paddle.
Canoes being small and lightweight do not require many safety pieces of equipment per Coast Guard regulations.
The Coast Guard requires the following equipment for canoe safety: Life Vests, Sound Producing Devices, Navigation Light, and Visual Distress Signals.
Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)
Life Vests and Life Jackets, also known as Personal Flotation Devices or PFDs, are the Coast Guard’s first safety requirements. To have more in-depth knowledge, read more about the five different types of Personal Flotation Devices.
Type I life jackets are best for remote waters where rescue operations may not come immediately. They are the most lightweight and floatable among the PFDs, which can even get unconscious people in a face-up position despite the deadweight. They are also the bulkiest and can be used efficiently on commercial watercraft.
These life jackets are ideally used in calm near-shore waters where rescuers can easily penetrate. Type II life jackets have simple designs, lightweight, and is cheaper. The downside of this one is that it is not very cozy to wear.
These life jackets are the most common PFD that most paddlers use. This is designed to be used when it is known that rescue can come quickly or is nearby. Wearers can freely move and be comfortable wearing it. When wearing this jacket, you have to keep your face out of the water even when this promises to put you in a face-up position.
These flotation devices are mainly used to be thrown into the water to help a conscious person. It goes best with normal PFDs or the Type III PFD. The Type IV PFD is shaped like a ring with cushions.
Type V life jackets are intended to be used for specific activities. To have the Coast Guard’s approval, the life jackets must be strictly worn for the whole course of the activity and must be explicitly labeled for whatever activity it will be used.
Sound Producing Device
For both canoes and kayaks, a sound-producing device is a requirement from the Coast Guard. The device will be solely used as the paddlers’ prompt of their objectives and positioning. Boats smaller than 60 feet must install a built-in efficient sound-producing device.
A sound-producing device can be in the form of a bell, a whistle, or a horn. It can be anything as long as it can be heard from a mile away. The most common sound-producing device that owners and commercial vessels prefer is an air horn.
Small traditional boats must have small navigational lights sufficient for its size, whereas big ships need to have ample lights accordingly. Usually, small boats are just obliged to have a flashlight or lantern that has white lights.
A canoe can have waterproof lights on both sides, but most paddlers just bring a small lantern since it can easily be moved from one direction to another. The light should be visible from all corners of the canoe. Navigation lights are required to be used from sunset to sunrise.
Visual Distress Signals (VDS)
A Visual Distress Signal (VDS) is the last safety equipment requirement for canoes. For canoers who hustle during sunset and sunrise, the Coast Guard requires at least two pieces of any kind of pyrotechnic or flare onboard. (Read Best Kayak Caddy)
A visual distress signal can be anything handheld or meteor type. A canoe has three flares for night use, three flares for day use, and one electronic distress signal.
From various travel reviews, these are some of the other safety devices you might need. It can be helpful to equip your canoe with all these even without the Coast Guard requirement.
Having these onboard may not hurt as long as it does not take too much space and does not make your canoe experience uncomfortable.
You can bring helmets for each person on the canoe. Drop-in some throw bags, river booties, bail buckets, pulley, and a repair kit.
A repair kit can also come in handy in case of long-range travel. And most importantly, see to it that a first aid kit is readily available along with some potable water and food.
Always keep in mind that it becomes entertaining and memorable when everyone is safe and sound in any activity. It is best to be ready for anything that might not happen than to be in shock when something tragic happens.
Make sure to obey all guidelines and follow all rules implemented by the Coast Guard before canoeing.