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Hand Signals for Kayaking Communication

Kayaking can be a wonderful way to have a solitary float or an enjoyable social outing, but either way, it is important to have a way to communicate with those who cross your path. Sometimes, you aren’t close enough to communicate with your voice so having hand signals to relay basic instructions can be very helpful.

Here are a few standard kayaking hand signals that are helpful for keeping everyone safe on your kayak adventure. If you are going with a group, it is important to review these hand signals before you depart to ensure that everyone is on the same page. But these are pretty universal and understood by most kayakers you will encounter.

All Clear / Proceed to this mark

All Clear / Proceed to this mark kayak hand signal- Brooklyn Kayak Company

This lets other paddlers in your group know to proceed to your position. Raise the paddle vertically in front of you with one blade high over your head. Other paddlers will know to come to you and/or that all is clear to proceed. This might be helpful when you are negotiating tricky water or when you want all paddlers to gather before proceeding.


STOP! / Do not advance

STOP! / Do not advance kayak hand signal - Brooklyn Kayak Company

Another vital piece of information to convey is STOP! There are a number of times when you would need to convey a halt to members of your group or other kayakers in the area. If you are the lead and you see danger or you want to warn other paddlers not to proceed, use this hand signal - raise the paddle horizontally over your head.



Help! kayak hand signal - Brooklyn Kayak Company

To alert others that you need help, grasp the paddle with both hands and wave it side-to-side. You can do this with both hands and make a wide sweep or with one hand and wave it over your head.   This should get the attention of other boaters and kayakers who can assist.


Proceed / Stay to the side

Proceed / Stay to the side kayak hand signal - Brooklyn Kayak Company

If you want to direct paddlers which way to go, always point the intended direction with the raised / high side of the paddle. Kayakers can see your paddle and be directed to that side of your kayak. This can help when kayakers need to stay on a particular course, avoid an obstacle, or stay with the group.


I’m OK

I’m OK kayak hand signal - Brooklyn Kayak Company

Letting others know that all is well can come in handy as well. If you want to let other kayakers and boaters know that you are ok, just pat the top of your head.


Just knowing a few signs and kayaking hand signals can help you to communicate well with your group and other boaters on the water. #HappyKayaking                                                          


*Photos from Freepik

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