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* * * Navigation & Planning Resources * * *

  Comm   Tides   Weather   Waves   Surf   Books   Risk Mgmt.   Put-Ins  

Updated 3/18/06

Good planning is essential to a safe and successful kayak trip. The water may become a dangerous place with little warning even under the best of situations. Being aware of forecasted conditions and knowing what they mean can be essential in avoiding disaster. NACK provides the following trip planning resources to aid in managing risk and providing for a safe and enjoyable journey.


Communication Resources

One of the most useful pieces of safety gear for boaters is a marine radio. It can be used to monitor real-time weather information and to call for aid in the event of an on-water emergency. It is important to be familiar with proper protocols in advance of an emergency.

Marine radios may also be used for inter-group and intra-group communications to aid in managing groups of paddlers on the water. Marine radios operate on public use communication bands and should at no time be used for chatting or in an irresponsible manner. The links below can be useful in establishing safe and responsible marine communication protocols. Special thanks to member Sandy Noyes for asking us to post this information.

			Telecommunications Information
USCG Nav-Center Telecom Services
			Radio Watchkeeping Regulations
USCG Nav-Center Watchkeeping Regs
			Radio Information for boaters
USCG Nav-Center Boater Comm Info

Tide Forecasting Resources

The following resources will aid in predicting local tides and tidal currents at known locations. Data for known tidal stations, in combination with local knowledge can be used to predict tidal variations at your favorite put-in.

NOAA Tides Online

SKSA-Ltd provides this handy directory to NOAA tide tables for us. The listing is comprehensive for the entire United States. To use it merely enter the required state then scroll to the station of interest.


L.I. Tidal Currents

Tidal currents may be of great interest if you are paddling near an inlet or channel. So far, tidal current stations are generally only located in entrances to harbors where traffic levels are fairly high. This link will lead you to tidal current data for a number of discrete locations around Long Island. Each location gives offset data (time, speed ratio and direction) relative to a known reference station. You will then need to link to the table of predictions for the reference station and make the proper calculations for the times of interest.

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Weather Forecasting Resources

The National Weather Service provides a myriad of forecasting information. First check the local forecast at Islip, LI or your favorite location. Then read the Marine Forecast for Long Island locations. The graphical forecast maps are quite useful for visualizing what is happening across the Long Island area and obtaining predictions of wind speed, direction and gusts for the next 12 hours. The Long Island Radar map can provide real time depiction of weather cell activity. For longer range predictions check out the national weather map and satallite images or go to your long-range local forecast. Finally, the Space Environment Center offers information on ongoing events and predictions of solar flare and geomagnetic activity that may impact radio and GPS communications.

						for Local (Islip) Forecast
Islip Forecast
						for other Long Island Forecasts
Other LI Forecasts
						for Local Marine Forecast
L.I. Marine Zone Forecasts
						for Graphical Forecast
L.I. Graphic Forecast
						for Local weather radar
L.I. Weather Radar
						for National Weather Map
US Weather Map
						for National Satallite Map
US Satallite Map
						for Space Weather Forecast
Space Weather

NDBC Marine Forecasts by Phone

You may access Marine forecasts for areas covered by Data buoys via land line or cell phone by calling the following number:


To access Dial-A-Buoy, dial the above service using any touch tone or cell phone. Assuming you know the identifier of the station whose report you need, press "1". In response to the prompt, enter the five-digit (or character) station identifier. (For coastal stations whose identifiers contain both letter characters and numbers, use the number key containing the letter - for the letter "Q", press "7"; for "Z", press "9"; etc.) The system will ask you to confirm that your entry was correct by pressing "1". After a few seconds, you will hear the latest buoy or C-MAN observation read via computer-generated voice. At the end, the system will prompt you to press "1" to hear the report again, or "2" to continue with other options.

Dial-A-Buoy also can read the latest NWS marine forecast for most station locations. The system will prompt you to press "2" to continue after the observation is read, then "1" to hear the forecast. You can jump to the forecast before the end of the station report by pressing "21" during the reading of the station conditions.

When you become familiar with the system, you do not have to wait for the prompts. For example, you can can press "1420071" as soon as you begin to hear the welcome message to hear the report from station 42007.

When you are finished with Dial-A-Buoy, press 9 or simply hang-up!

Long Island Station Identifiers:

  • 44022  -  Execution Rocks Western Long Island Sound north of Hempstead Harbor.
  • 44039  -  Central Long Island Sound, north of Mattituck, NY.
  • 44017  -  Montauk 23 Nautical Miles Southwest of Montauk Point.
  • 44025  -  Islip 33 Nautical Miles South if Islip, NY.
  • 25766  -  Ambrose Light South of New York Harbor.
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Sea State Information

NOAA operates a series of marine data centers mounted on off-shore buoys. This data is compilied and provided for real-time access through the internet. Each station gives access to current and historical data and data trends for wind speed, wind direction, air pressure, air temperature, dew point, wave height, wave periodicity, wave direction, and water temperature for it's location. Knowing the sea state can aid in predicting on-shore effects at shore-line put-ins.

						for NDBC Buoy Data - 33NM South of Islip NY
Islip Sea Buoy
						for NDBC Buoy Data - 23NM SW of Montauk, NY
Montauk Sea Buoy
						for NDBC Buoy Data - Montauk, NY
Montauk Point Buoy
						for NDBC Buoy Data - Central LI Sound
L.I. Sound Buoy
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Surf Conditions

Launching and landing on sites exposed to surf can be either exciting or dangerous depending upon your training and experience. It is best to get information on exposed locations before you plan your trip. There are a number of good resources, mostly directed to the surf enthusiasts. NOAA offers dynamic wave maps for the Atlantic ocean. Northeast Surf is a stopping off point for a lot of surf information. Long Island surf shops offer surf cams and local surf forecasts for Long Beach and Gilgo Beach areas.

						for NOAA Atlantic Ocean Wave & Wind Maps
Atlantic Wave Map
						for NorthEastSurfing.com
						for Long Beach Surf Cam and Conditions
Long Beach Cam
						for Bunger Gilgo Beach Surf Cam and Conditions
Gilgo Beach Cam
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Reading and Reference Materials

Deep Trouble

George Gronseth and Matt Broze of the Kayak Academy have authored one of the best written and most compelling books addressing the pitfalls of inadequate planning and mis-assessment of paddling risks under real conditions. This 186 page book gathers gathers more than twenty detailed accounts of real accidents, outlining the circumstances of each and providing detailed analyses: What did the paddlers do wrong? What did they do right? Most importantly, how might the accident have been prevented?


USCG Nav-Center
Navigation Rules

In the United States the rules of navigation are regulated by the United States Coast Guard (USCG). Rules are broken down into International Rules and Inland Rules which differ in some imporant aspecs. All rules are available on-line at the associated link.



In the United States there is a standard system for Navigational Aids, including buoys, daymarks, lighthouses etc. Knowing the marking convention is an important aspect of paddling safety. It can keep you out of trouble by helping avoid traffic areas. It is also important to guide you to safety in the event of a weather or medical emergency. Understanding this system is basic to good navigation. The associated link is provided through the USCG Office of Boating Safety.


Risk Management Resources


SKSA-Ltd. has kindly created a Float Plan for use by our members. This form should be completed for your personal paddles. It has room to describe the group that is on the water, their planned route and expected return time. A copy should be left with a friend ("Angel"). It is a good idea to leave a copy in your vehicle as well. Make note of the US Coast Guard emergency numbers, they are open 24/7/365.

NACK Float Plan

Eric Soares of the Tsunami Rangers has developed a Sea Condition Rating System (SCRS) similar to the River Class System used by whitewater paddlers. We have adapted it into a simple form that can be used to a SCRS rating from Class I to VI. Once the rating is calculated consider factors relating to your group such as training, experience, medical restrictions, etc., then make judgements about how to proceed with your trip.

Sea Condition Rating System
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Launch Sites on Long Island

SKSA-Ltd Put-Ins

SKSA-Ltd has graciously allowed NACK to link to their comprehensive listing of Long Island Put-ins. Please use this list responsibly and conduct your group in a manner that will ensure continued access to these put-ins. We ask all our members to please contact SKSA promptly with any updates or corrections to the information in this list.


NYS LI-Parks Putins

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation has created ten official kayak put-ins in nine Long Island State Parks. In 2005 they published an official guide describing each location in detail. During the collection season appropriate parking fees must be paid at each location. Launch permit fees may apply at some sites. NOTE: suggested skill ratings are not provided for sites in this brouchure.

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  Copyright 2005 by North Atlantic Canoe and Kayak, Incorporated