Safe river navigation when kayaking is important in Florida.
We may not have waterfalls or dangerous rapids on most of our rivers but Florida does have its own hazards. Kayaking is a great way to explore rivers and get some exercise. However, it is important to be safe when kayaking on rivers. Here are some tips for safe river navigation:
- Choose the right kayak. Not all kayaks are created equal. Some kayaks are designed for flat-water paddling, while others are designed for whitewater paddling. If you are not sure which type of kayak is right for you, ask a kayak expert for advice.
- Wear a life jacket. This is the most important safety tip for kayaking. A life jacket can save your life if you capsize.
- Be aware of the river conditions. Before you set out on a kayak trip, check the river conditions. Are there any hazards, such as rapids or waterfalls? Is the water level high or low? Is there any rain in the forecast?
- Paddle with a buddy. It is always safer to kayak with a buddy. If you capsize, your buddy can help you get back in your kayak.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Pay attention to other boaters, swimmers, and wildlife. Be aware of any hazards, such as rocks, trees, and debris.
- Paddle defensively. Be prepared for the unexpected. If you see a hazard, be prepared to take evasive action.
- Know how to rescue yourself. If you capsize, know how to get back in your kayak. If you are unable to get back in your kayak, know how to signal for help.
Here are some additional tips for safe river navigation:
- Scout the river before you paddle. This means paddling upstream to see what hazards are ahead.
- Be aware of the weather conditions. Rain can raise the water level and make the river more dangerous.
- Be aware of the wildlife. Some animals, such as beavers, can create dams that can block your path.
- Be prepared for anything. Bring extra food, water, and clothing in case you get stranded. Always have a wide brimmed hat, sun block and rain gear.
Encountering Alligators, Snakes, Manatee, and Insects while Kayaking in Florida
Florida is home to a variety of wildlife, including alligators, snakes, manatees, and insects. If you are planning on kayaking in Florida, it is important to be aware of these animals and how to avoid encounters with them.
Alligators are the most common large predators in Florida. They are found in freshwater habitats, such as rivers, lakes, and swamps. Alligators are ambush predators, meaning they will wait for prey to come to them. If you see an alligator, do not approach it. Keep your distance and paddle away calmly. For information on alligators in Florida and laws concerning them visit https://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/wildlife/alligator/facts/
Snakes are also common in Florida. There are many different types of snakes in Florida, but most of them are not venomous. The most venomous snakes in Florida are the coral snake and the cottonmouth. If you see a snake, do not attempt to catch it or kill it. Simply paddle away calmly. Florida has a rich diversity of snakes and other reptiles which play an interesting and vital role in Florida's complex ecology. https://myfwc.com/conservation/you-conserve/wildlife/snakes/
Manatees are large, gentle mammals that are found in Florida. They are herbivores and their diet consists of seagrass and other aquatic plants. Manatees are slow-moving and they are often seen swimming near the surface of the water. If you see a manatee, do not approach it. Keep your distance and paddle away calmly. Manatees are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, the Endangered Species Act of 1973, and the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978. It is illegal to feed, harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, annoy, or molest manatees. https://myfwc.com/conservation/you-conserve/wildlife/manatee/
Insects are also common in Florida. The most common insects in Florida are mosquitoes, biting flies, and sand flies. These insects can be annoying and they can also transmit diseases. To avoid insect bites, wear long sleeves and pants, apply insect repellent, and avoid paddling in areas where there are a lot of insects. We have found the best repellants to use contain Permethrin or Deet.
Avoiding encounters with wildlife while kayaking in Florida:
- Paddle in well-traveled areas. This will reduce your chances of encountering wildlife that is not used to seeing humans.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Pay attention to the water and the shoreline for any signs of wildlife.
- Paddle slowly and quietly. This will help you avoid startling wildlife.
- Do not feed wildlife. This can make them more aggressive and more likely to approach humans.
- If you encounter wildlife, do not approach it. Keep your distance and paddle away calmly.
By following these tips, you can help to ensure a safe and enjoyable kayaking experience in Florida.
Are you not ready to head out kayaking on your own?
The experienced guides at Not a Clue Adventures are familiar many of the waterways in Florida. We offer day paddles as well as multi-night river camping opportunities. Private and group kayaking trips are available. Visit us online for more information. https://notaclueadventures.com/guided-kayaking/