Joined: July 2004
||Posted: Mar. 05 2007,07:40
I have a big yellow mesh gear bag that goes on every trip of any kind (touring/fishing/snorkeling/guiding/whatever). As I looked at this list, I realized everything in this "must take" bag is directly related to safety. Or comfort, which will become a safety issue if left unchecked. I may just set the whole bag in the tankwell/hatch, or break it up as I load the yak. Contents include:
submersible VHF radio in a dry box (redundant, but when you need it..........)
another dry box w/ID, cel phone, money, advil, fishing license
extra lines (1 short, 1 long) with clips for quick deployment - myriad of uses
BIG bottle of sunscreen
a dry bag containing:
first aid kit
small clean towel (for first aid use)
complete set of xtra batteries for lights and radio
rain pants and top
waterproof headlamp w/fresh batteries - pre-trip test every time
Other items that always go:
water enough for you, your friend(s) who say they won't need it, and an extra for first aid use
food bag - enough as above - clif bars are good and keep very well
Other items that always go on my person:
PFD - high quality, w/pockets, in screaming yellow
high quality, SHARP, blunt edged dive knife - mounted to PFD
signal mirror and whistle in PFD pockets
If running solo, I always wear my PFD. Every time. No matter what. Period. No exceptions. Do we need to cover this? If with qualified company and conditions are mellow, I'll sometimes take it off. But if I'm with real newbies (who couldn't offer me much assistance if I was in trouble) I just wear it every time. I've got a nice comfortable Lotus PFD with a mesh back and never really feel restricted in it.
These items may or may not go with me, depending on trip length, location and expected weather:
mounted white 360deg light
spare paddle (always have when solo)
compass and charts
Quite a list, I guess. But being a guide, I feel a sense of responsibility even when I'm just with friends, since I'm likely the most experienced person in the group. New kayakers are always leaving things at the dock, in the car, at home, etc. Or they think they "won't need it". I ask as we're loading up if they have things (water/food/sunscreen/hat/jacket) and can't tell you how many times folks have needed to use my stuff for their comfort/safety. Which is perfectly cool, since we'll all have to suffer or cut our trip short if someone isn't having fun because they're thirsty, sunburned, or being devoured by no-see-ums. As to the original question for this thread - that of "routine". I have the big yellow mesh bag for the first list of things; everything else can fit in a milkcrate - one trip if you do it right. And post trip rinse down is easy - just blast the bag and crate with the hose and let air dry.
If I'm fishing, a few more things become must have items. A lip gripper for keeping that big fish that you weren't expecting (if a big and/or toothy fish is boatside, this is invaluable; I recommend tying it to the yak with maybe 4' of line - enough to reach around the cockpit as needed; you can even let the gripper go for a minute to grab a camera or deal with your rod and still have your fish but tie it off somewhere other than the gunnels! a big fish could capsize you; and leaving struggling fish tied to your kayak could create a shark problem as well, so think this all through BEFORE you have that 50lb tarpon boatside) I mentioned a knife above. It needs to be secure and able to immediately deploy with one hand. If a big shark wants your catch, or your chumbag that's tied to the boat - cut the line quickly and let him have it. Another scenario is when you've hooked a fish that you want to keep; you can quickly cut the line and get the fish into the fishbag. I've lost a few big keepers because I was fiddling with hook removal and the fish struggled enough to get away. You know how they tend to get a burst of energy right as you pop the hook loose? Just cutting the line and dropping them in the bag will save you a few nice fish. Also, I consider a (quickly deployable) anchor a safety issue. I figure things are more likely to get hairy if I'm fishing rather than just paddling, and it will likely be during a battle with a large fish. If I'm being towed (or blown or swept by current) into danger I can drop the hook, though this is a last resort since it would be hard on the seafloor.
OK, those are some of my thoughts on "must have" gear. The "routine" part is in storage/transport. Just keep it all together and you'll always have everything. An if you paddle enough, you'll be glad you have it when you need it.
(Capn's Note: Thanks to Randy for a great post. Well done and well considered)
Edited by Capn Jimbo on Mar. 05 2007,09:59