I think this photo was taken on Hood Canal years ago. We haven’t had a winter that cold in a long time! Although our tours are closed until spring, it’s certainly possible to enjoy kayaking around Orcas Island or the Pacific Northwest this time of year. Just keep a few extra things in mind to improve your safety.
- Dress for immersion. With cold air temperatures, it’s more important than ever to be prepared for an unexpected dunking.
- Kayak with a friend. Solo paddling can be great, but winter is not the time to add that risk.
- When you stop, you get cold. Carry extra layers for when you hit shore, especially if it’s late in the day. A thermos of hot tea will go a long way to warm you up, as well.
- Have backup emergency communication. A marine VHF radio AND cell phone (in waterproof case) are your best options. Be prepared to give a detailed description of your location at any point along your route. There are far fewer recreational boaters on the water to lend aid, so be sure to have contact info for the Coast Guard and local emergency responders programed in your phone.
- VHF channel 16 is for emergencies and hailing.
- 911 from a cell phone should work to get you through to either the Coast Guard or San Juan County emergency dispatch. Depending on where you are, the call may get picked up by a Canadian service, causing a delay as they reroute your call.
- San Juan County emergency services direct line: 360-378-4141
- Coast Guard Puget Sound 24-hour emergency response: 206-217-6001
Stay warm and safe out there!