Our Guide to Paddle Sport

First Aid

When participating in activities on and around the sea, you should have a means of administering first aid either on a bigger boat with a first aid kit on board or a kit easily accessible on the shore. Knowing how to use one can save a person’s life so taking a course on first aid would be a highly advised. Having spares of everything such as clothing and spare parts can help you enjoy your activity more. Having a spare part means a small issue with your equipment is easily fixed and you can continue your sea kayaking session.


Portaging around the locks on the Crinan Canal is all part of the Argyll Sea Kayak experience. A traditional skill, portaging can be carried out in a number of ways depending on your boat type, the number of paddlers in your group and the amount of equipment you have.

Definition: Verb - Carry (a boat or its cargo) between navigable waters. The origin is late Middle English: from French, from porter 'carry'. The sense relating to carrying between navigable waters dates from the late 17th century.

We strongly recommend that paddlers bring their own portage trolleys, to navigate the canal section.

In Emergency - HM Coastguard & RNLI

For those times when something unplanned happens, it's good to know that there is support out there. HM Coastguard cover the Argyll and Bute region.

Hamish Young HM Coastguard and Martin Douglas RNLI Loch Ness have helped us produce this short HM Coastguard & RNLI video

Be prepared - here's some key information that the Coastguard will need if you have to call them VHF Operation Channels

  • Emergency Channel – CH16
  • Scottish Canals – CH74

Training Information.

In our guide to Paddle Sports, find helpful training information on;

  • Training and Tuition
  • Scottish Canal registration
  • Scottish Outdoor Access Code
Training Information

Be Prepared.

In our guide to Paddle Sports, find helpful information on;

  • Being prepared
  • Staying connected
  • Environmental considerations
  • Distances
  • Dress wear
Be Prepared

Canal Safety

When on the Canal you should;

  • Look out for and use the Sea Kayak Trail pontoons and landing sites which have been built specifically for Sea kayakers and other paddlesports users
  • Paddle on the right hand side
  • Give way to other traffic – Sea kayaks are more manoeuvrable than yachts or cruisers
  • Be alert, and be visible to approaching craft - wear bright colours and don't paddle at night or in poor visibility
  • Watch out for wake caused by larger boats
  • Do not swim in the canal, no matter how tempting it may appear, dangerous submerged objects can be found at the bottom of the canal.

Always wear a personal buoyancy aid when on the canal, open water or rivers.  It is useful to also have a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch on your person or in your buoyancy aid should you fall out of your sea kayak and need to summon assistance (reception can be patchy in some remote areas of the Trail).

Remember the canal is home to two fleets of holiday hire cruisers. These are often skippered by novice boaters and you should expect the unexpected when paddling near them!

Loch Safety

On the open water of the lochs remember;

  • Open water paddling is not for novices - get appropriate sea kayak training or join a guided expedition
  • Ensure you have the latest weather forecast - pay particular attention to the wind speed and direction
  • Wear appropriate clothing for the weather conditions
  • Stay alert and be visible to other water users- fast RIBS, ferries and yachts, etc
  • Choose a shore to paddle along and stick to it. Take OS maps for details of Lochside road access & village facilities
  • Be aware that the water conditions are normally changeable and the water temperature
  • Stay together as a group and look out for each other
  • Be prepared to take shelter should the weather change - build extra time into your schedule to allow for this
  • Paddlers of open boats should generally avoid being on the lochs when there are breaking waves - we strongly advise against the use of inflatable boats and sit on tops by inexperienced paddlers
  • In the event of an emergency on the water, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard

 Have a contact ashore whom you call each day to let them know when you're launching and then again when you're safely ashore.

Get some useful paddle safety advice from the RNLI here