Before heading out you should take time to prepare for all eventualities. If you’re unsure of what equipment is required, then we recommend you seek training from a professional paddlesports instructor. Information on local sea kayaking guides and paddlesports instructors can be found under the Visit Argyll and Isles pages of the website.
Being well prepared will not only ensure your safety but also mean you’ll get the greatest enjoyment from your trip.
Always be prepared and have a reliable form of communication, which in some cases can be a mobile phone. Bear in mind that some mobile phone networks are not always available or are not consistent within Argyll and Bute. It is advisable to check the coverage with your particular mobile network provider prior to visiting. It is recommended you have a VHF Radio to call for help and be able to use one competently.
At various times of the year, there are nesting birds in locations around the coastline. You should not approach these birds to closely and keep any pets on a leash. The main nesting season for UK birds is the summer months from March until August.
Ferries also operate in this area and we recommend you keep at least 200m away from them, especially when manoeuvring. With the Royal Navy base at Faslane, situated in the Clyde estuary, military vessels also use this water. The military vessels traveling through this area can be local or foreign and many have escort vessels. It is recommended that you keep a safe distance from these vessels and are prepared to change your route if required.
In our guide to Paddle Sports, find helpful training information on;
In our guide to Paddle Sports, find helpful safety information on;
Dress appropriately for the weather conditions and sea kayaking.
Always wear a Buoyancy Aid. Buoyancy aids are suitable for activities where you are guaranteed or very likely to be in the water. They provide 50 newtons of floatation to the user through foam pads and are for use when help is close at hand. Lifejackets should be worn when you are in a situation where help is not close at hand and when you are not expecting to enter the water. These can be in the form of foam pads or inflatable bags with a toggle release trigger. These will keep the users afloat for longer periods of time and will usually bring the user face up if they fall in. When wearing a lifejacket, make sure you are wearing a crotch strap with it; without one, the lifejacket can ride up and not support the user.
Further information about using lifejackets and buoyancy aids is available from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) via this link.
You should wear a wetsuit or drysuit. Wetsuits work by trapping a thin layer of water between the user and the neoprene rubber skin. This is heated up by body heat and keeps the user warm. Drysuits keep the user dry and they can wear warm clothes underneath to keep themselves warm. They have latex or neoprene seals at the wrists and neck that keep water out. Wetsuits are generally less expensive and provide an effective way of staying warm on the water.
If you are conducting a sport on the water where you are expecting to stay out of the water, you can consider Waterproof trousers and tops. These can be of a breathable variety, which wick away sweat, or a less expensive, durable version. You should use these waterproofs as part of a layering system with base, mid and outer layers. You can adapt the layers you wear according to the conditions and temperature.
You should also protect your extremities with good footwear, gloves and hats. Footwear should be non-slip and sturdy to protect your feet and keep them warm.