Kayaker Information


Kayak Unloading and Inspection (6:30 a.m. – 8:15 a.m.)

Kayak check-in takes time. Please arrive early in order to ensure your boat is approved in time for the Swim. While in the kayak unloading zone, please remain in your vehicle until Save The Bay staff or a volunteer directs you to move forward and unload. Swimmers participating with a kayaker cannot check in until their safety kayak is approved. Swimmers must check in together with their kayakers.

IMPORTANT: Numbered vests will be given to all kayakers at registration. Vests MUST be worn on the water to identify you as your swimmer’s support.

REQUIRED EQUIPMENT: Each kayaker must have the following equipment to cross the Bay with your swimmer. If you do not have this equipment and your kayak does not comply with the following standards, you will not be allowed to participate.

  • Sea-worthy 9.5' (minimum) sea kayak or sit-on-top kayak with a paddle (No tandem kayaks permitted)
  • 2 adult life jackets (one for the kayaker; one for the swimmer)
  • 1 blanket or towel in a dry bag (for your swimmer)
  • Whistle/signaling device

Strongly Recommended Equipment:

  • Paddle float and pump (if there is a cockpit)
  • Spray skirt (if there is a cockpit)
  • Paddle leash (or other means of attaching paddle)

Kayakers should also have with them:

save the bay kayak ring

  • Water bottles 
    • Recognizable headgear/hat or vest to ensure that your swimmer can spot you quickly

Once your kayak has passed inspection you will be given a piece of paper verifying that your boat has been approved. You must bring this verification to the registration area in order to check in.

All Swimmers with Kayakers (Waves 3, 4 & 5) must provide their own kayak and kayaker.

ON THE BEACH, kayakers whose kayaks have passed inspection and have registered together with their swimmer, will enter the water in their boats in front of the starting line and to one side of the course in preparation for the start. This way, kayakers will have an easier time locating and meeting up with their swimmer once their group has begun.

The Safety Briefing (8:50 a.m. to 9:05 a.m.)

This is MANDATORY for all swimmers and their kayakers. Participants will be made aware of emergency procedures and the safety regulations will be reviewed.

As soon as the orientation is finished, kayakers should proceed to their boats and get into ready position. Swimmers will also proceed to the water and get into ready position. Swimmers and kayakers will assemble in the water according to their Wave (1-5)

The Start (9:15 – 9:35 a.m.)

  • 9:15 a.m. – Individual  Swimmers  (Wave 1) – No Kayaks

  • 9:20 a.m. – Individual  Swimmers  (Wave 2) – No Kayaks

  • 9:25 a.m. – Swimmers with Kayakers  (Wave 3)

  • 9:30 a.m. – Swimmers with Kayakers (Wave  4)

  • 9:35 a.m. – Swimmers with Kayakers (Wave 5)

Swimmers will line up in the water behind the starting line with their boats off to one side. Swimmers will swim to their escort boats and proceed across the Bay.

Kayakers, please make sure your kayak has a recognizable flag, float, etc., and that you have a recognizable hat, vest, etc. so your swimmer can easily spot you out of the crowd. Swimmers in this group and their kayakers will begin after the starting signal.

Important Note for Kayakers

You should work out a strategy in advance with your swimmer to easily locate them. You do not want to waste time trying to find them when the start signal goes off. Decide where in the line of boats they will be and make sure you have a way of finding them. It is also a good idea to pull something that floats behind your boat so you do your swimmer doesn’t have to lift their head to follow you. You should also have bottled water on hand.

The Course

The Swim course runs roughly parallel to the Newport Bridge. The finish in Jamestown is around Taylor Point in Potter Cove. Use the two green Coast Guard navigation buoys to guide you out of the start. Swimmers with Kayakers should swim toward the green can buoy and meet up with your kayaker there. Course map.

Taylor Point in Jamestown is marked with orange netting, reflective sheets and a large balloon. As you approach the Jamestown side, you will pass to the right (or north) of Taylor Point. After you round the point, you will see the finish area. Be aware that the Bay bottom at the finish line is soft with rocks and holes, so please walk carefully.

Safety Boats

For your safety, Coast Guard boats and other official safety boats will surround the course. The Kayak Safety Squad (in bright orange) will escort the field of swimmers across the Bay. They have extra life jackets and will watch for swimmers in distress. However, once you are in the water, use your best judgment. You are responsible for yourself.

Swimmers have two hours to complete the Swim. If your swimmer is in distress, they are instructed to turn onto their back and wave. They should NOT attempt to swim back to shore. They should signal for help and a kayaker will come to them. If they become separated from you, they are told to stay on course and wave if they need help so the Safety Squad can locate them.

Your Role

Your job is to keep your eyes on your swimmer at all times. If your swimmer is in distress, throw a life jacket to the swimmer and wave your paddle for attention — DO NOT pull your swimmer into your kayak. If they need to hold on, have them hold the bow or the stern to avoid capsizing. If you get separated from your swimmer, let a safety boat know, so we may assist you.

The Finish

When you and your swimmer reach the finish, kayakers will exit to the RIGHT of the finish line boat, in the designated area. Here, you will turn in your vest to the designated kayaker-accounting volunteer or staff member.

You can meet up with your swimmer at the celebration tent in Jamestown. Do not attempt to kayak back to Newport, as the Coast Guard safety zone will not be activated. There will be free shuttle service to transport participants and attendees back to Newport. Kayaks cannot be accommodated on shuttles — please make other arrangements ahead of time.


IF THERE IS AN EMERGENCY IN THE WATER, the Coast Guard will communicate with our safety team and with you. Please pay attention to all official safety boats. If there is an emergency, you must cooperate with the on-the-water safety squad.

Kayak Rental

If you need to rent a kayak, please contact:

For further assistance finding a kayaker, please contact: REI’s Vaughn Valcourt  at vvalcou@rei.com. REI will provide kayakers while they are available, on a first come, first served basis.

Save The Bay Kayak Safety Squad

The Save The Bay Safety Squad is a group of trained and experienced kayakers who volunteer for Save The Bay and work as a team on the day of the Swim. Members of the Safety Squad are not responsible for accompanying one individual swimmer. This group acts as an additional safety layer around swimmers and kayakers to watch for those who may need assistance and serve as extra eyes on the water. They can be identified by their safety orange shirts and mesh vests. 

Safety Squad Volunteer kayakers that are not paired up with a swimmer will receive an orange mesh vest without a number, and burgee to wear on the water.  

Safety Squad Qualifications

If you are interested in being a member of the Safety Squad you must be a very experienced and seasoned kayaker and provide your own kayak and safety equipment (flotation, etc.). You will be required to attend an information session with Save The Bay Captains before the Swim. If you are interested in becoming part of the Safety Squad, please contact Leanne at ldanielsen@savebay.org or call 401-272-3540, ext. 140. 

Slideshow image

The Bay Swim: Then
and Now

Mike McCain

Listen to one swimmer who Swam the very first year and 37 years later.