Wednesday, October 22, 2008

SUPs and PFDs

This is a follow-up to my post August 12,'08 "Hassled About PFD?"

The US Coast Guard recently made a determination:

"Based on the information available, the Coast Guard has determined that, when beyond the narrow limits of a swimming, surfing or bathing area, the device known as a "paddleboard" is a vessel under 46 U.S.C. 2101, and therefore subject to applicable regulations administered by the U.S. Coast Guard and its Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety, unless specificallly exempted."

In essence, if the paddleboard is being used for transport on lakes, bays, or rivers, a PFD is required.

I guess we're responsible for national policy on this. I doubt that
anyone making this decision has ever been on a paddleboard (maybe never
even seen one) and certainly didn't get any input from the paddling
community. If so, the paddlers could easily explain that the PFD
requirement will not increase the safety of the sport in most cases.
Granted, a paddler could get struck by lightning or hit-and-run by a
boat and knocked unconscious. But then, the PFD would only save them if
they were wearing it and the rule says it just needs to be on-board.
Paddleboards are unsinkable. A more common sense safety rule is to wear
a tether-leash attaching you to your board and this is widely practiced
without the need of regulation.

Paddleboarding is a healthy, low-impact and environmentally friendly new
sport. The enthusiasts do it because they are so un-encumbered by
standing on top of a board instead of sitting within a boat. The feeling
of freedom and experience of the outing is incomparable. Some paddlers
choose to wear PFD,s and my point is that it should be a choice. The
expectation is that it will not be required to have a PFD because
everybody knows a board is not a boat.

The reactions from the few people that were already warned by marine patrols were brought to my attention immediately, disbelieving, distasteful, even calling it harassment.

I'm requesting that the Board consider rule making and adopt rule
language to exempt "paddle boards" from the PFD requirement. I will be
glad to testify and could provide many others to testify if it would help.

Randall Barna
Thank you for purchasing your SUP gear from us. We appreciate your support.

1 comment:

  1. We paddleboard in Mandalay Bay, which is the back bay behind the big bridge in Channel Islands Harbor, Oxnard, CA. The Coast Guard boats that patrol in Mandalay have not approached us, though we have never worn PFD's. We have talked about staying behind the big bridge because otherwise we will be in the more high traffic area of the harbor. Likely, we will then be approached by Harbor Patrol about wearing life jackets. By the way, I am following your blog... quite a fun read!