Monday, February 08, 2010

On being seen..."reflection" for sea kayaking and running.

I must, first of all, tell you that I am taking a small, but calculated, risk writing this posting. You see, my contribution to our Annual Report is already overdue and I have been told in no uncertain terms that I'd better get it in, or else! Now, I took the "or else" (there was a twinkle in her eye) to mean that if I didn't get my report in pronto, something might be submitted on my behalf! Yikes, so yes, I will get my report(s) in very soon. I promise! Besides, I feel that those to whom I am responsible will forgive me for spending this time to blog on an essential item with regards to personal safety in the great outdoors!

So, I wanted to share a thought about "reflection" which is certainly an essential part of the kayaker's and the runner's "kit".
When we first moved to Vancouver Island, we were struck by the number of folks who walked or ran at night - and almost everyone wore reflection. A GREAT idea, especially since many of our Island roads are unlit and very dark after the sun goes down! Many wore the "construction" style vest, pictured on right - extremely effective and when you see it, you instinctively lighten up on the gas peddle. We carry one in the vehicle at all times. Never heard of anyone getting a ticket for impersonating a highway worker and great in the event of a road side emergency - you know you will be seen! The two pull-over reflective vests to the left are what we wear for road running, much of which, at this time of the year, is done in the pre-dawn darkness. Again, you know that you will be seen by oncoming traffic. Having said that, a headlamp or flashing bicycle-style LED lamp adds another layer of safety. An "altercation" with a vehicle is a no-win proposition, so just seems to make a lot of sense.

For paddling, my Kokatat paddling jacket, combined with the PFD provides lots of night-time visibility. We also applied reflective tape to the sides of the kayaks and along the rudder. As you can see, you're pretty visible. Even if you don't regularly paddle at night, "stuff" can happen, right? You might get delayed and even if you had never planned to be out after dark, it's nice to know that if someone ever needs to look for you, between the reflective tape and some emergency lighting, you will make their job a lot easier.

Being "seen" really is a matter of safety for paddlers, runners and night-time walkers. All right, so now I'd better get back to that Annual Report as I've just now been notified that I will most assuredly win the "prize" for being last! Can't wait to see what that will be!

Stay safe out there,


Top image: Entering Stuart Channel between Saltspring Island and Vancouver Island at sunset with the lights of Crofton to the port side.

SPECIAL NOTE: Yes, the middle picture, is indeed a partial image of a rare "HMKTV" - a High Mobility Kayak Transport Vehicle. Although often confused with a military version Hummer, by virtue of its extraordinary off-road capabilities, it is significantly smaller and infinitely more fuel efficient. This particular vehicle was only recently "de-classified" under code name "Geo" and authorized to be used in a civilian role. It can be seen transporting specialized marine craft around south Vancouver Island. A future posting will elaborate on some of its transport characteristics and capabilities. :-)


  1. Hi
    Think it would almost be a little freaky looking to come across you in the dark on the water. I will stick to day time kayaking. Good reminder though as I have been walking a lot in the darkness and probably am not very visible. Shall get on that!
    Enjoy the sun and blogging...I am sure the office admin won't be too hard on you if you are later than late. LOl

  2. Whew! Yes, reflection's pretty important if you're out walking. Thx for dropping by. D.

  3. Great topic.
    My Whiskey 16 glows in the dark as all the deck rigging and bungee's have that 3M reflective stuff in em.

    Only thing I did was put two small strips on my kayak blade as it is the highest point and hopefully would be seen.

    I perfer to run at night due to the lack of traffic in my town after 8h00. I usually wear my running suit and a headlamp. Still I was almost taken out by a minivan flying out of her driveway a few nights back. You can't plan for others stupidity!

  4. Appreciate your comments, abduk. Reflection on paddles a great idea - lots of motion. Yup, know what you mean about road running. "Share the road" isn't a concept everyone shares - we seem to have to head for the ditch about once a week! Sigh...

  5. Glad to hear you are all equipped with reflectors for both land and water. Better safe than sorry. Got that leak fixed yet? Hope you get your report it before you get into trouble.

  6. Hi J, Oh oh...nope, still don't have the leak fixed yet. For those who might be wondering, the HMTV has a couple of leaks thanks to the kayak racks pushing in on the rubber moulding. I've been procrastinating but then it should stop raining by May. I know, I know - no excuses. Good to hear from you J.Guess what, Joan doesn't have her reports in either! :-)