4 Necessities for Kayak Navigation

Essential kayak navigation tools

Part 1 of 3 in our series on journeying

We’ve tried a lot of gear and found that most of it was just more useless stuff to carry around. Just a few basics are needed to get started, and here’s a short list of some must-have’s for kayak navigation:

  1. Compass
    This one’s kind of a no-brainer, but here’s the thing: a cheap one works just as well as a costly one for kayak navigation. They’re easy to lose, so why throw money into the water? We give enough sunglasses to Neptune already, he doesn’t need our compasses too. Pick up a small one that you can tie onto your PFD.
  2. String
    Any old string will do. Use this to plot a course from Point A to Point B underway, when you don’t have access to a parallel ruler. Really, kayakers go such short distances that you’ll never need a parallel ruler unless your name is Frieda.A string will work fine.
  3. Grease pencils
    You can’ have too many of these since they’re so easy to lose. Use a grease pencil to make notes on a waterproof

    Waterproof charts are best for kayak navigation

    Kayak charts have to be large-scale

    chart or on the deck of your boat. Buy them online or find them at Staples, Joann’s, or Michael’s.

  4. Charts
    There are lots of choices here. Pick up a Pocket Chart at your local boating store, buy a chart kit for your area and copy the pages you need as you need them, or download free charts from NOAA using a navigation software.(For those of you who are joining us for the Paddle Through Time navigation trip to False Cape, you’ll need NOAA Chart 12207). If you’re going to download free charts, consider picking up a laminator so you don’t end up with a useless, sodden mess on your deck.

Which nav tools do you find indispensable?

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— Jay Gitomer

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