Paddle Craft

More people are paddling further offshore in canoes and kayaks and, whilst many carry safety equipment voluntarily, it is essential all paddlers carry equipment that would enhance their chance of survival in an emergency.



Kayak and Canoe brochure


MAST Paddle Safe Flier





The following table shows the equipment required on light weight craft.

Light weight craft includes kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddle boards (SUP).


Equipment RequiredSmooth WatersSheltered WatersCoastal Waters
PFDLevel 50 - MandatoryLevel 50 - MandatoryLevel 100 - Mandatory
White strobe light or all round light with 360 degrees visibilityMandatory
(at night)
(at night)
(at night
Tethering device when more than 200m offshoreMandatoryMandatoryMandatory
EPIRB or PLBMandatory
VHF - handheldMandatory
Bailer or bilge in craft unless hull permanently enclosedMandatoryMandatoryMandatory
FlaresRecommended if undertaking a passage paddleMandatory


If a lightweight craft is travelling with a powered support vessel or three lightweight craft are travelling together in waters other than sheltered waters, the carriage of flares, EPIRB/PLB and VHF radio (the equipment) may be reduced to carriage of the equipment by one of every three lightweight crafts if the lightweight crafts remain with 50 metres of the craft or vessel carrying the equipment.

A person on a lightweight craft is exempt from wearing a PFD (Life Jacket) when the sole purpose of operating the lightweight craft is to ride the crest of a wave in a *surf zone towards the shoreline.

* surf zone means the area between the outermost breakers and the shore.




  • Always wear a (life jacket)
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return
  • Never venture too far offshore – weather changes can be quick and severe
  • Don’t paddle so far that you can’t get back – fitness is important
  • Spend some time close to shore to get used to your kayak or canoe
  • Try to paddle in company where possible
  • Check your canoe or kayak prior to each trip for leaks or cracks
  • Seek local knowledge if paddling in new and unknown waters
  • Always check the latest weather forecast. Program these weather numbers into your mobile phone now so you can check the weather before setting off:
      • Northern Tasmania    –  6323 2555
      • Southern Tasmania    –  6233 9955
      • Eastern Tasmania       –  6376 0555
      • North West Tasmania – 6498 7755

Bureau of Meteorology – MetEye

Other important tips:


Wind will slow paddling down and the extra effort required will tire you more quickly than normal. Also think about offshore winds – don’t get blown away from shore.


Waves can be larger than expected and can change in size depending on water depth.


Tides can be strong and having to paddle against the tide can make you tire quickly. Tidal flow against the wind direction will make waves steeper and water more choppy. Plan your paddle according to tides.


Unless you are an experienced surf paddler, stay out of the surf.  If you venture into these conditions, always stay away from swimmers.

Cold Water

Tasmanian water temperatures can get as low as 9 degrees celcius. Hypothermia can effect you and its onset will be rapid if you end up in water this cold. Even summer water temperatures can induce hypothermia.

Enjoy your time on the water with your kayak or canoe but remember, if you are not confident in your ability or your craft is not suitable for the prevailing conditions, then don’t go out.

Learn more about Cold Water Immersion.

Cold Water Immersion Brochure




The tether needs to be attached to something.  The method of attachment and what you are attaching to will depend on which style of craft you are paddling.

Sit on Tops

Having the boat attached to yourself makes sense as these craft are prone to being blown away, leaving he user in the water with nothing to hang on to.




Sea Kayaks / Canoes

A paddle leash will probably be a better option as these craft tend to take on water if you capsize. The chance of a sea kayak being blown away from the paddler is much less than with the sit on top. Having the paddle attached to the kayak will enable the paddler to enter and exit the craft unencumbered.


Stand up Paddle Board

The SUP user will generally use a leg leash, much the same as a surf board rider.  It is up to the individual paddler as to how they want to configure their tether.

Use of a tether on a stand up paddle board is highly recommended as this device will keep you attached to the board which could be your life saving device.  Even though regulations don’t require you to wear a leash until you are 200m off shore, the use of a tether on a SUP is recommended at all times.


Paddlers in kayaks and canoes, irrespective of where they paddle, are reminded that in darkness they must display an all round white light.

MAST recommends that a white light or white strobe is used which is visible at 360 degrees and is turned on at all times whilst paddling in darkness or poor visibility.