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Flares/Smoke - Specific Recommendations


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Today's digest edition of Paddlewise had a brief discussion regarding signalling devices...flares, smoke and even plumber's dye. There was not a lot of specific information in the discussion, so I'm wondering if the knowledge of NSPN members of this subject might be shared with specific recommendations to include (if possible) size, weight, submersibility, model numbers, etc. I belatedly started thinking about this subject because of a close encounter with the driver of a Grady-White off World's End yesterday afternoon. After the guy figured out there were two kayaks in the water in front of him, he turned away. My paddling companion suggested that a flare across his bow might have been the appropriate response. Shamefacedly, I have to admit that my very loud Storm whistle remained safely in the pocket of my PFD.

This is not to suggest that flares or smoke should commonly be the way to warn away powerboaters...it's rather my hope to get information regarding devices (again with specific recommendations) which could be used in multiple situations.

Thanks - John

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I suspect that flares fired to warn away a boat, rather than to signal emergency, are illegal, immoral and fattening. The coasties would probably be most interested in the first of those properties.

How about a foghorn? The little plastic jobbies with a vibrating plastic membrane generate quite a bit of noise. Whether it would be heard above the powerboat's engine I do not know.

But any of those devices would have to be quite accessible to deploy in time to make a difference, with a powerboat bearing down.


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If it came to a matter of being run down or not, do you think I would be worried about the legality of firing a flare. Flares are for emergencies, I say that a 40 foot boat bearing down on you IS an emergency. Admittedly it would not be my first course of action, but it sounds good.

To answer John's question, I recommend the Pains Wessex Miniflare 3


For smoke:


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I recently viewed a video with Peter Logan and others at REI that showed various flares "in actions". Most of the "small" flares were not particularly bright at a modest distance. Those that were required a handheld device, read gun. I would agree that firing a flare across the bow of an oncoming boat would be an appropriate act, however, would not recommend using such a device/flare. Roger Pollock and I were recently in Rockport Harbour with a boat that seemed to be turning to meet us as we tried to get out of its way. Roger waved his paddle in the air and the boat adjusted, not sure if he/she finally saw us or decided not to run us down.

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Nice looking horn, but pricey...and a battery to consider.

Check out this Aussie wonder: eBay item 250012786793. They'll apparently entertain a 50 count bulk purchase. Hmmm....

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