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Is Your Kayak Ocean Worthy?



You've been paddling the bays and creeks catching your share of inshore gamefish. But the offshore waters are calling, especially on those glass-calm days with little or no swell. How do you know if your 'yak is ready to handle offshore? First, make sure your kayak can handle a swell without tipping. Try kayaking on a nasty, windy day in the bay and see how it goes. Ideal kayaks are wider and longer, plus they are much easier to paddle distances. The current WILL push you along the coast.

Load up on safety equipment, and there's plenty of it. Key considerations include a life jacket (wear it!), white light, noise-making device, bottled fresh water, electronics/GPS, drift sock and paddle leash. Plus, don't forget the tackle and sun protection. Two other important items are a flag and a knife. Mount the flag high on a pole, so boaters can see your location when you're between swells. Second, the knife is to cut fishing or anchor line quickly if a situation gets out of control. A large fish can tip the boat; don't let that happen. You can hop back into your kayak if you tip over, right?

Florida Sportsman member Yaksquatch had a couple other tips. "Stuff a bunch of pool noodles in your hatches. That's in case a breach occurs and the hull fills with water. The noodles will keep it from becoming an artificial reef. Second, do not go solo in a kayak offshore. Go with a buddy and let someone know your float plan--where you'll be, for how long, and when to call the Coast Guard if you don't come back."

Where to launch? First, understand that the tides and winds will push you away from your entry point. That's particularly important for kayak anglers that head far offshore. Often, the best option is to use two vehicles and park them at entry and exit points. Track your drift with help from a GPS unit. Florida Sportsman member joedaddy notes, "[launch] at an unguarded beach, or before the Baywatch crew are on duty. Don't assume swimmers will yield to your big plastic missile. They usually just stand and stare as you barrel toward them."

Find out what other Florida Sportsman members are saying about offshore kayaking.

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