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PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:19 pm 
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Location: Charlevoix, MI
So I've started fishing a new area on Lake Michigan near my home. Two days ago I was about 1.5 miles offshore in my wife's Outback, not in any shipping lanes or other "busy" traffic route. Over the otherwise clear horizon comes a 42-ft sailboat. After awhile he is getting close but it looks like we'll pass along starboard sides (his sails are to port) so I'm not too worried. I had a red and white flag atop a red vertical rod sleeve on my 7-ft jigging rod in my H-Crate, plenty tall to be seen, right? Then he's getting really close and I start pulling in my lines and bearing off, sounding my air horn and startling him when we passed 12 ft apart. "Didn't you see me?" I shouted. "No" comes the embarrassed reply. So OK, big lake, I'm in a small boat, the guy's not paying attention, stuff happens. But then it happened again today in nearly the same area! Two 30+ ft cruisers are approaching me rapidly from the other direction in a side-by-side configuration. This is more dangerous situation because 2-3 ft waves have them travelling below planing speed so their bows are pointed up, putting me in a relative blind spot. I pulled lines, waved my 7-ft red flag back and forth and repeatedly sounded my air horn. But I am in a small Dune colored yak on a parallel course amidst wind-driven whitecaps. So although I did not want them to think I was signalling that I distress, I REALLY wanted them to bear off a bit or slow or otherwise acknowledge that they saw me. Once again I startled the closer captain when he passed within 15 feet of me; him waving sheepishly as I cursed and scrambled to recover from a near wipeout in his huge wake.

The area has nothing but blue water across 270-deg of horizon and I am a very small fish in this big sea. I feel like I've had 2 near lightning strikes out there this week, and it's only Tuesday! How do you all "stay visible" in situations like this?

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2017 5:53 am 
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Location: Blacklick, Ohio
Maybe a dune colored kayak isn't the best color to be out on open water with? :shock: Just playing devil's advocate. I have a red TI with an 18' tall mast and I still get overlooked by larger vessels, even on small inland lakes. Jet skis are the worst by the way. FYI, I'll be up that way this weekend and plan on doing a little Lake Michigan sailing. I'll keep my head on a swivel.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2017 6:00 am 
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Red flag, air horn....not much else you (we) can do, outside of a lighted pole. We are at the mercy of the larger water craft out there. I fish mostly in a channel between two inlets on Long Island, and much of it is in a 5 MPH/ no wake zone, so I fell pretty safe. There are still times I need to turn into waves created by those that barrel thru. We have the Coast Guard, a Bay Constable, and County Police boats patrolling, so it's relatively safe. When in open water I have to keep my head on a swivel, as there are those that could care less, or pay little attention to what's going on around them. And now we have more and more "packs" of jet skiers that create havoc out there. I don't fish weekends or holidays for obvious reasons. All we can do is stay alert. Be safe ......


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2017 12:34 pm 
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Location: Charlevoix, MI
TI_Tom - yes, next Hobie is going to be bright red or yellow, but not much I can do about that now. And John, your comment about a lighted pole gives me an idea. I have a light but no way it would be seen in mid day sun (when both near-misses occurred). So maybe what I need is a multifaceted reflector on top my flagpole - kind of like a small disco ball. That might catch someone's attention if they're not too busy drinking to look where the autopilot has them headed once in a while. And as far as keeping your "head on a swivel", it's the other guy who needs to watch.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2017 3:04 pm 
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Location: Escondido
If you want an attention-getting light, get a strobe. They also make a great emergency beacon.

IMO, boat color is not nearly as important as a loud air horn. If some one can't see you or is looking the other way, visual cues don't really matter. This is why your air horn is such an important option -- a person can't avoid hearing that blast. As a reminder, 5 short blasts signals danger or failure to understand the other boat's intention.

Sailboats often have limited visibility, especially in front of the sails. Window panels only offer limited views. Power boats with the bow up are a good indicator that their visibility is limited. Nobody is exempt from potential crashes, even the authorities, as this link sadly testifies: http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sdu ... story.html


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2017 4:06 pm 
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Open empty water can be worse as they have gotten into the mindset they have the place to themselves, and so are not as attentive as they should be.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2017 5:53 pm 
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Location: Missoula, Montana
As you kayak in the area of other kayaks, note how visible they are at a distance. Kayaks colored white, dune, olive green, camo, and similar colors disappear into the background. Other colors, particularly yellow, stay visible at considerable distances, which increases the chances that even an inattentive boater will notice you. That is why all of my fishing kayaks are yellow. I read a study which indicated that blue is the color which is most visible to searchers from the air.

Also note how visible the kayaks' safety flags are at a distance. Small safety flags are pretty invisible at any distance, but may make your kayak more visible at short distances in swells which are large enough to hide the hull of your kayak when you're in a trough.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2017 8:01 pm 
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Location: Charlevoix, MI
Roadrunner wrote:
If you want an attention-getting light, get a strobe. They also make a great emergency beacon.


RR - I love the idea of a bright white strobe on top the flagpole. I googled around a bit and could only find strobes that were recommended for nighttime use. Can you recommend anything like that which would be easily seen in the midday sun?

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2017 8:56 pm 
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We used to carry them in the flight vest -- they're attention getters! You can rig one full time on your pole or have a uni-directional version you hold and point. Here are some examples -- at least some of these should be suitable for day use:

http://www.boatersland.com/acr3970-4.ht ... gIotPD_BwE

http://www.sportys.com/pilotshop/emerge ... gLsLPD_BwE

https://www.google.com/search?q=emergen ... 20&bih=853

https://www.google.com/search?q=emergen ... robe+light

IMO, the most visually attractive feature is the flash. As long as it's visible it should catch the eye. You may want to experiment by placing your strobe a block away and see how it works to estimate how a boater would perceive it.

If left on all the time, strobes can be annoying or cause vertigo in some situations. A remote switch would be ideal. 8)


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 4:56 am 
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Location: Blacklick, Ohio
I just put one of these on my TI, mainly for night time use, but it does have a strobe feature.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EF30RJ2/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I mounted it on a railblaza pole.

http://www.austinkayak.com/products/19215/Railblaza-Extenda-Pole-1000.html

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 10:36 am 
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Location: Out There
No matter who has the right of way, in a small watercraft like a kayak, just watch where the other boat is going and get out of the way.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2017 5:57 am 
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On sale at ACK....... it has a flash mode, but not sure if it would be seen at a distance......figured I'd post this as it is relevant to the conversation...

http://www.austinkayak.com/products/211 ... %20ACK.com!


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 23, 2017 7:20 pm 
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Location: Charlevoix, MI
Lots to learn about these strobe lights. FWIW, here is a link to a Homeland Security study comparing the commercially available units (as alternatives to flares for emergency signalling):

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source= ... CQoQuGvUMA
Although the authors bend over backwards to NOT rank these units, it seems that the overall best (most easily seen in various conditions) is this one: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source= ... 6h7WAwkSQg
Pricey, though. And unfortunately, all the field testing was done at dusk lighting conditions.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 10:49 am 
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Joined: Tue May 30, 2017 10:27 pm
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Location: Newport Beach
As a boater as well, I am not too familiar with the area you are talking about but it might come down to this, you look far ahead, didn't see the yak sitting low on the water, but no visible boats in the area, you set the course and go about with some business or talking with people on boat. Yes it is a bad habit, but after passing by the few buoys right outside the harbor I don't scan the horizon as much as I should and if it isn't the path popular with local surf skis, wouldn't really consider people to be in the area.
I would deeply recommend getting some sort of bike mirror to see traffic behind you, goes on sunglasses, seeing them is the easiest way to avoid them. The lights and flags are good if boaters are paying attention, but if you do by chance see some boat hauling ass coming down your way, raise your paddle, you don't really need the paddle to work that much since we on a Hobie forum, I would put some treatment on it, color the stock hobie ones or put some reflective sticker on it. Works pretty darn well.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 1:54 pm 
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Location: Charlevoix, MI
idonntnoe wrote:
As a boater as well, I am not too familiar with the area you are talking about but it might come down to this, you look far ahead, didn't see the yak sitting low on the water, but no visible boats in the area, you set the course and go about with some business or talking with people on boat. Yes it is a bad habit, but after passing by the few buoys right outside the harbor I don't scan the horizon as much as I should and if it isn't the path popular with local surf skis, wouldn't really consider people to be in the area.
I would deeply recommend getting some sort of bike mirror to see traffic behind you, goes on sunglasses, seeing them is the easiest way to avoid them. The lights and flags are good if boaters are paying attention, but if you do by chance see some boat hauling ass coming down your way, raise your paddle, you don't really need the paddle to work that much since we on a Hobie forum, I would put some treatment on it, color the stock hobie ones or put some reflective sticker on it. Works pretty darn well.
Thanks for the insight from a power boaters perspective. I suspect you are right about the "set it and forget it" mentality that GPS and autopilot have brought us. In hindsight, there was a USCG navigational buoy within 1/4 mile of my mishap. The captains probably used that as a waypoint to their destination, which is why 2 near misses occurred in the same area. I will avoid such buoys in the future.

The reflective paddle is another good suggestion. I was waving a 7-ft red flagpole with a 1.5 sq ft red and white flag at the top and this was missed. Perhaps the modified paddle or some additional reflective material atop the flag would better catch a derelict pilot's attention.

I very much know the "deer in the headlights" feeling from these episodes, though. You don't know if they see you and changing your course will aggravate the danger, or if they don't see you and continuing on your current course is worse. In the second mishap the cruisers were coming on so fast that I decided to stay put since I would not be able to get too far in any direction before they would be upon me anyway. I was preparing to jump overboard but even then could not determine if it was safer to bail out over the port or starboard rail! Truly a helpless feeling.

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