I am certainly no expert, though I've taken 3 beginner boating courses covering New York State navigation rules. As much as SOME of us would like to think of ourselves the highest on the boating pecking order and hence "all other boats must yield to me" is quaint but really a very poor mindset and largely incorrect.
I've seen in my short time since July this year a lot of things such as Kayakers almost being run down by a pilot vessel at night, a canoer waiting until a 50' powerboat is too close to manuver then entering the channel purposely forcing it to stop, a kayaker with "skills" challenging himself to beat me and several other boats leaving an inlet across the inlet before we hit him, kayakers on VHF challenging a power boater that they aren't afraid of them while not noticing a large comercial vessel coming up on them since they were in the middle of the channel, boaters proudly boasting of their 30knot average speed night trip or in fog and near zero visability, boaters with an entire open river almost hitting me in Kayak because they think they can do whatever they please etc. etc. I guess it goes both ways, and understanding your rules will help you and others.
From what I gather the following things should be considered:
1> Rules - You are a vessel, you are not just a pedestrian crossing the street, you must obey the same times of regulations all boaters are supposed to adhere to. Off hand, the 'minute guide' rules 1-13 (I believe) all apply to Kayakers (plus a couple of others). In short, you must make your actions clear to other boaters, you must understand who is stand-on or give-way vessel, you must above all else never engage in risky behaviour, and always superscede all rules to avoid accidents. Failure to understand this can make you negligent and liable etc.
2> Night Lighting - You MUST have a white 360deg. light on at all times (most people know this) vessels under X length and type. I would add that a high powered spot light should also be readily available. Flashing LEDs, reflective tape, etc. should also be considered.
3> Channel behavior - Stay out of the channel at night. During the day, follow the minute guide, do not play "frogger" with your Kayak, stay to the starboard side of the inlet (like other vessels). If you have to cross do it in the most direct way.
4> Carry a VHF - Remember that these aren't as strong as the ones on boats, have it autoscan the emergency channels, learn to communicate with other boats properly in the area. Make them aware of your location.
5> Navigation lights - Know your lights! Is that a power boat? Is that a tug boat? Is that trawler? Is it engaged in commercial fishing? Are you in-between a tug and it's cargo ship? Is that approaching ship's red light mean that they or you are the stand-on vessel? This applies to the rules of navigation, basically stay the hell away from comerical traffic.
6> Emergency lights - Do I have two methods of night-time emergency signals (i.e. flares, lights)? Do I know how to use them and when? Does no good fire a flare off if nobody is looking at it.
7> Lights rule of thumb - the more lights you see on the vessel the more likely it's comerical and large, stay the hell away from them. Two lights yellow over white means it's a tug pulling a barge, there could be 3 or more lights meaning larger scale operation.