Water Safety: Kayakers + Safety Boats

Water Safety

The safety of swimmers is the number one priority of this event. It requires a coordinated effort from medical personnel and the Provincetown Rescue Squad on shore, and kayakers,  stand-up paddle boarders, safety boats, the Harbormaster, US Coast Guard and lifeguards on the water to ensure the safety of each and every swimmer. There is a special symbiotic relationship between swimmers and kayakers that creates a special bond. Check out our page on hypothermia.

Kayakers + Safety Boats

Kayakers and safety boats are the glue that creates the safety net for the swimmers in the water. Motor boats of all sizes are needed to back up the kayakers when a swimmer needs help. We are looking to expand the number of safety boats on the water this year. Do you know of someone?

Please register early so you can make it to Long Point for the Swim start – registration is 8:30-10:00am on the Boatslip beach (please do NOT register with the swimmers on the deck).

We are initiating a voluntary pre-registration process this year to assist us with accurate and legible data collection. You will still need to register on September 10 and sign the liability release form. Although raising pledges is not required of kayakers, many do. It is important to note that kayaking across Provincetown Harbor and back can be very strenuous, especially if you are not used to ocean water. The last couple years the wind has been stiff and the water choppy.

This year we will include kayakers’ pledge totals with the swimmers for prizes – worth close to $10,000!

All kayakers and safety boats must register the morning of the Swim.

You will receive a coupon for a t-shirt, several bottles of water for swimmers. Kayakers will also receive a whistle and a sign that reads: ALL MOTOR BOATS DOWNWIND OF SWIMMERS. Please hold up the sign if you notice a motorboat up wind as fumes from motorboats is the biggest complaint of swimmers. Rescue Tubes will be available for some kayaks. They can be towed behind kayaks and tossed to swimmers in need, therefore avoiding swimmers inadvertently hanging onto the side and tipping a kayak. Swimmers should hold onto the bow or stern of the kayak for rest.

Both swimmers and kayakers should be familiar with the signs of hypothermia. At Long Point beach, it is important that you stay separated from the swimmers – on either side – and be in the water when you see Jay arrive with his red lamé flag. Sometimes the start is held up because kayaks are beached and paddlers are not with their boats and in the water.

The Paddler Flotilla will form on either side of the  swimmers and shepherd them across the harbor. If you are inexperienced, let the Swim start before you venture out, as long as you are beached away from the swimmers.

Your important role is to provide support for the swimmers in the water. If you see a swimmer going off course, help him or her back on course. One of the most helpful things you can do is to orientate  swimmers to the finish line by pointing your paddle. Stick with slow swimmers if needed, offering rest and water. Keep in mind that swimmers are tired and concentrating on swimming, so please limit conversation.

Water Safety Update 2017

With increased attention in the media about a variety of shark sightings, particularly white sharks on ocean beaches and in Cape Cod Bay near seal populations, the Provincetown Community Compact, sponsor of the Provincetown Swim for Life & Paddler Flotilla, would like to assure participants that swimmer and kayaker safety will continue to be the event’s top priority. Please see recent statement and activity.

To address this concern, and consistent with prior years, the Swim for Life is working closely with the Provincetown Harbormaster, who patrols the harbor for any unusual activities or animals and keeps a watch on the seal population in the harbor the morning of the event, alongside the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies’ research vessel, Ibis. The US Coast Guard will also be out on the water to assist in water safety.

We utilize similar protocols as the National Seashore in the event of confirmed sightings and response procedures.

If you need to contact the Provincetown Harbormaster’s Office, the phone #: 508 487-7030.

For information on ongoing Cape Cod research: Atlantic White Shark Conservancy

Please do not hit the Boatslip beach until all remaining swimmers have on-water support.

A tired swimmer should signal one of the kayakers/boarders and hold on to the  bow (not the side). The swimmer should not attempt to climb into the kayak.

The kayaker and other boaters signal for assistance if needed by blowing their whistle and raising their paddle vertically over their head.

A final reminder, the kayaker and stand-up paddle boarders’ job is to be a safety net and stay with the swimmers in case they need you. Stay focused, the water can be choppy and challenging to navigate while attending to swimmers.

Some of the most memorable stories about this event are about the special connection that often occurs between a kayaker and a swimmer.

Be safe.  Thank you.