PFD Requirement: U.S. Coast Guard regulations require that canoes and kayaks of any length have a properly fitting PFD (Type I, II, III or V in flotation rating) for each person on board. In order for the Type V to qualify as required safety equipment, it must be worn. However, we strongly encourage every paddling participant to wear their PFD, at all times, regardless of type. Some states do require an additional Type IV throwable device. However, it does NOT replace the requirement for another Type PFD to meet the minimum federal carriage requirement. Regardless, it is always a good idea to have a throwable device onboard.
Registration Requirement: Only a handful of states require paddlecraft be registered with the state agency. The following states require an official registration and/or validation stickers be affixed to the craft: AK, IL, OH, OK, IA, MN and PA. Some states require that the owner’s name and address be permanently affixed to the craft in a noticeable location. These requirements allow state agencies to identify owners in the case of abandonment, separation, or theft.
Auxiliary Power: If you affix a mechanical motor for propulsion of any type, your craft becomes a “motor boat” and vessel registration is mandatory in all 50 states. You must also comply with all legal requirements designated by the Coast Guard for craft of your length. You must also abide by additional state and local regulations that pertain to motorboats, including speed limits, navigation rules and mandatory safety equipment.
Restricted Areas: All paddlers must be mindful of federally mandated exclusion and security zones and keep a safe distance of 100 yards from all Navy vessels. On local lakes and rivers, you may encounter restricted areas around bridge abutments, large dams and some shore based facilities like power plants. Of course, obey all No Trespassing signs and warnings that rivers, lakes and other bodies of water are closed.
Rules of the Road & Ship Traffic: If paddling in areas of motorboat traffic or near shipping channels, know what the buoy markers mean, especially in busy harbors where established “lanes of travel” exist. Consult with charts or use or monitor channels 13 and 16 for communication. Remember, large boats have blind spots, can’t maneuver as well, and take a long time to stop. When possible, pass astern of larger craft and wear bright noticeable colors – don’t count on them seeing you!