Paddle Craft Safety… Canoes, kayaks, paddle boards, and rafts comprise a growing recreational boating category that features a variety of manually propelled vessels. Some look like surf boards, while others are small boats such as a rowboat and a dinghy. These economical vessels are much more affordable than motor and sail boats. In addition, they require far less maintenance and they are extremely environmentally friendly. A Rapidly Growing Recreation … Kayaking, and Stand Up Paddle boarding have grown dramatically. Between 90,000 and 105,000 canoes, and 350,000 kayaks are sold each year according to Safety First, a part of the National Safety Council …This New and Quickly Growing Category Presents a New Challenge for Boating Safety. Why? … This is because Paddle Crafts can be dangerous … Kayaks, paddleboards, and other small vessels share the harbors and bays with small motor boats, tugboats, yachts, fishing boats and speedboats. So, even though your paddle craft is small it is among much larger boats. This puts you and your paddle craft in an environment where nearby commercial boats and yachts create a high-risk environment. For instance, it is easier to fall off your board than it is to fall off a yacht or a tugboat … Then, once you are in the water you are harder to see which means you are harder to find among other boats on the waterway. Safety Starts with You!!! Technically all paddle craft are vessels. This means you are the captain and as such subject to the same boating rules that every other kind of vessel must obey. You must carry or wear a life jacket that fits you properly, and, if you are in a kayak, others on board must also wear a properly fitting life jacket at all times. In crafts such as canoes, kayaks, paddleboards and float tubes, it is very easy to lose balance and end up in the water. Therefore, experienced paddlers have life jackets onboard at all times when they are underway on the water … and they don’t just leave one on the top of the board or in the Kayak … they wear it!!! Be aware that accidents occur when they are least expected, and remember that life jackets are required because they save lives. Recommended Paddle craft Safety Tips …1… In addition to your lifejacket carry a whistle, and mirror that can help you signal for help …2… Be sure you are a competent swimmer before you head out on the water …3… Learn how to self-rescue. This means make sure you can get back onto the board or into the kayak, if you fall off the board or capsize a kayak or dinghy …4… Know how to assist another boarder …5… Know the local regulations and navigation rules. These are the same rules that apply to larger boats …6… Understand the elements …7… Learn to recognize the risks associated with hazards, winds, tidal ranges, and terrain …8… A leash will prevent you from getting separated from your board …9… Be aggressive in troubling situations. Always remember to stay on offense until you reach safe waters …10… Don’t go into places if you are not comfortable entering …11… Use the proper paddling techniques, and practice frequently to ensure you internalize best practices. U.S. Coast Guard Safety Tips for Paddlers …A… Wear your life jacket …B… Use life jackets that are inherently buoyant rather than an inflatable vest …C… Check the weather and file a float plan …D… Paddle in pairs …E… Dress for Success … Wear proper clothing and carry equipment appropriate for the prevailing temperature …F… Take a boating safety course …G… Carry a waterproof handheld radio, and keep your cellphone dry. Anyone can choose to Enjoy the Water Safely…Kayaks, canoes, stand up paddle boards and other paddle craft offer great on the water recreation, but you must understand and prepare for the risks. The resources presented herein can help you be prepared … Additional Tasks to Remember …H… Equip your paddle craft to keep yourself as safe as possible …I… keep a bilge pump onboard when practical …J… Carry a handheld GPS and consider adding waterproof charts … K… Include a compass, a whistle, a flashlight, and flairs …L… Carry an extra paddle, use a spray skirt if you are in rough waters, and wear a helmet if you are in rocky or white water areas. Online Learning … The US Coast Guard has partnered with https: paddling.com to produce a series of short videos that illustrate proper gear, equipment, strokes, trip planning, recovering from a capsize and how to call for help. I recommend viewing these if you haven’t already. Use Extreme Caution when paddling in channels, or near large boats. I frequently see paddle crafts crossing a channel that has significant traffic. Be aware that larger boats do not have brakes and can’t easily stop or get out of the way when you cross. It is best to stay on the appropriate side of the channel for the direction you are traveling, and get out of the way if a large vessel is behind you. Find My Watercraft … Unfortunately, a Tile cannot locate a paddle craft that has drifted away. If Found Stickers provide a place for owners to display their name, address, and phone number. The CG uses this information to return the paddle craft.