Even though it is a pretty safe sport, accidents have been reported and that is why the U.S. Coast Guard has created special regulations for paddle boarding. It doesn't matter if you are a beginner or an expert at paddle boarding, rules are the same for everyone. It turns out the U.S. Coast Guard has two different ways of seeing paddle boards. Each one has its implications, but both of them have to follow what is required by the law. The U.S Coast Guard has determined that if a paddle board is operated “beyond the narrow limits of a swimming, surfing or bathing area” it is considered a vessel, regardless of its size and the area that it covers. On the other hand, if a paddle board is operated “within a designated swimming, surfing or bathing area”, it is not considered a vessel. This means that if you decide exploring the limits of the designated areas when you are paddle boarding, you need to be prepared and extra careful, because you will be watched. Same thing happens to canoes and kayaks if they aim to get legal on the water.
Paddle boarding is definitely a fun, exciting and at the same time relaxing sport that shows you a different way to enjoy the ocean. Here are important tips everyone who decides to go paddle boarding in the U.S. should follow:
Wear a life jacket
If the paddler is thirteen years old or older, he or she will require to have a USCG-approved Type I, II, III, or appropriate Type V life jacket. The recommendation is that it should be worn for better protection and safety. If the paddler is younger than thirteen, he or she should wear a USCG approved life jacket appropriate for that age. The life jacket must have the right size for the paddler and it is mandatory that it is in serviceable conditions, which means it has to be in good conditions so that it will not cause any additional problems.
Remember the whistle
Paddlers should carry a whistle or another sound producing device in order warn other boaters when necessary. In some cases, the ocean will not allow any visibility so the sound of a whistle will most likely be a good friend.
Lights are always lifesavers
In case you decide paddle boarding after sunset, make sure you take a flashlight or any other lighting device with you. You will need it in case you need to warn other boaters you encounter. Having a flashlight will make you visible at night at that can certainly help.
Act as a Captain
The paddler is the operator of the paddle board, which means the paddler is the captain of that vessel and therefore it is important that you follow the navigation rules. As a captain you are responsible of reporting any possible boating accident you see. If someone is injured you will also have to warn the local authorities.
Being a competent swimmer is absolutely required for this sport. Having rescue knowledge is definitely a plus, and at least knowing a bit of self-rescue and knowing how to tow another board will be enough to get home safely with your paddle buddy.
Never ignore the law and the theory of the sport
Knowing the local regulations and navigation rules is always a requirement. So is the fact of understanding the hazards such as winds, currents, tidal ranges and terrains. Never underestimate the need of wearing a leash when you are supposed to and stay away from the places that you should be reaching.
Always avoid alcohol. It is one of the main causes of water sports accidents.
And last but not least…Have fun, always.