Marine law enforcement agencies on Washington state’s marine and fresh waterways will conduct safety emphasis patrols over Labor Day weekend — specifically targeting stand up paddleboarders. The goal is to educate them about laws and safe practices.
“Stand up paddleboarders need to know that as soon as their board leaves a designated swim area or goes beyond the surf, it is considered a vessel and therefore subject to recreational boating laws,” said Rob Sendak, State Parks boating law administrator.
What are the laws?
Every vessel, no matter the size — including kayaks, canoes and stand up paddleboards — is required by federal and Washington state laws to carry the following:
• Life jackets – People 13 years of age or older must carry a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket in good condition. The life jacket must be the right size and type for the person wearing it. All children 12 years of age or younger must always wear their life jacket while onboard. Inflatable life jackets are authorized only for people 16 years of age or older.
• Sounding device – horn, whistle or bell.
• White all-around navigation light – during low visibility such as dusk to dawn, fog or heavy rain.
• Visual distress signals (such as flares) – required only on federal waterways.
“The law requires people to carry a life jacket,” Sendak added. “We strongly recommend people choose to always wear one, along with a leash, for maximum safety on the water.”
The penalty for failing to carry the proper safety equipment is a civil infraction punishable by a fine of $99 for each violation. A stand up paddleboarder without an appropriate life jacket and sounding device could be charged with two violations for a possible fine totaling $198.
For more information about paddlesport safety, visit www.paddlesafewa.org.