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Kiteboarding Emergency Signalling Devices

Posted: Tue Dec 06, 2005 4:28 pm
by RickI
Thinking about getting in touch if things go south someday? Here are some ideas:
RickI wrote:I am glad things worked out. They haven't always, involving at least one kiteboarder perhaps and more than one windsurfer in the past.

Some guys will say, B.S., you don't need that crap, e.g. emergency signally stuff. I can only imagine they never leave the immediate area of the beach or lack the imagination to see themselves in such a situation someday. Believe it or not, some of us will fall into it whether we consider it in advance or not. Guys in colder waters and near sunset, fog will be more at risk that others. Some areas are at a much greater risk than others of course, islands, areas with contrary currrents, riding well offshore, etc.. Having some handy stuff to bail yourself out in an emergency can be incredibly welcome when it hits the fan. If you ride in marginal areas, it is something to give serious though to. Why do boaters carry this stuff?

I researched some of this stuff for the recent crossing to Bimini. These are some of the things I came up with. They don't cost that much, take up much room (you could stick the lot in a small belly pack, wear it behind you and forget about it) and can sure beat the alternative, dying or come close to it because you weren't prepared. There are lots of alternative products out there.


A kit that includes three day/night flares, whistle, dye pack, signalling mirror all for about $36. USD

More at: ... alkit.html


Two marine VHF walkie talkies with water resistant bags. They were underwater a fair amount and really didn't leak much at all during the crossing. I found them on sale at West Marine for $82. USD for the pair! ... d=351&id=1

These aren't the most powerful units, only 2 watts, which may limit the transmit radius to under a 1 to 5 miles over water. You should be able to communicate with the VHF units on the boats using these and be able to hail on channel 16 if necessary.
RickI wrote:
hugoc wrote:RickI,

Thanks for the links. I would add the following to your gear.

Flashing strobe light:

And consider a higher output radio as in rough windy conditions you need more power to get a good transmission. Uniden and Icon make a small compact radio that is 5 watts I believe. I bet most kiters don't even know you can hail the coast guard and other boaters on channel 16.
I had a small combination waterproof strobe/flashlight as well that I left out of the list. I got it years ago as a masthead light for nighttime windsurfing. If you are in the water after dark a strobe can be a great locator and longer lasting than flares.

More at: ... rn=4501499

In the Crossing, IF seas were up as can easily happen with slightly strong northerly winds, say 8 to 10 to 12 ft. plus, if your kite were down I imagine you would vanish from view within a 100 m or less from the smaller chase boats that were in use. I imagine they wouldn't be able to hear you even with a whistle at such a range either with the noise of the running sea.

You are miles offshore between the USA and another country drifting north at 3 to 4 knots. The sun sets at 5:30 pm. We kiteboard to have fun, not to set ourselves up for a fairly easily avoidable death. At least I hope so.

Not a lot of guys ride 60 plus miles from shore. Still, I routinely go a mile, sometimes a few from shore. If something goes wrong, the kite goes down and I can't swim in as I have in the past, then what? I haven't been carrying more than a whistle for years. Still, I have "thought" many times that I "should" be carrying some effective signalling stuff. Got it now and the lot fits into a small pouch that is on a belt on my back out of sight and mind.

We have hundreds of miles of coast here generally with landable beaches. Some guys ride off of islands, in inlets and other areas with adverse currents, wx, rocky shores, etc.. There have been stories of guys being swept out of inlets, disabled until after dark, being swept off island (I almost had this happen to me a mile off of Antigua a couple of summers ago with a messed up kite on the water).

If you hug the shoreline, (threatening our access in some areas), avoid funky currents, islands, rocky shores, etc. you may not have need of signalling gear. Some guys are exposed to these hazards more routinely. It is something to consider, BEFORE you need it.
Reposted from:

Posted: Tue Jan 24, 2006 2:02 pm
by RickI
Regarding other signaling devices:

UW lasers, I picked one of these up a few years back to play with underwater. They work well.


More at: ... QUULP.html

You need to stick all this stuff in something that is out of the way, that won't readily tangle lines but is where you can get at it in an emergency. ALSO, there is a tendency to drop things in the water. You might want to get something with various pockets to distribute your gear among to increase the odds you won't drop everything by accident at once. Where feasible you may also what to tie things to the carrying pack. Carrying some 1/8 inch diameter line about 15 ft. can come in real handy too.

I chose something like the following for the Bimini Crossing. You also want to make sure the pockets won't unzip by themselves and you may also want to put a safety line over the buckle to protect against accidental release.


Posted: Tue Jan 24, 2006 2:18 pm
by RickI
More ideas about inflatable buoys and large streamers, EPIRBS and other devices appear at: