Stand Up Paddle Craft Lifejacket Use

Hawai'ian Beach Boys originally used paddle boards with paddles in the surf long before the internet praised the physical conditioning merits of stand up paddling. Laird Hamilton exposed the activity to this generation, and quickly a new 'old' sport re-emerged with watermen designing production models and paddles, presenting seminars, demonstrations and training classes. This activity is passionately embraced globally in a very short exposure time.

The activity is known as 'stand up paddle surfing'. With the tremendous popularity of the sport worldwide, it is being enjoyed on rivers, open water and lakes and is gaining a passionate following of enthusiasts, it is no longer 'surf specific'. With the inclusion of new sports and technology, comes safety and education concerns which arise primarily within the conceptual communities.

There are also government rules and regulations that apply to boating or water related activities. When a 'paddle' is inserted, the activity requires the use of a USCG approved type specific lifejacket in California waters, wether inland or coastal. Commonly referred to as a PFD (personal flotation device). The types required would be dependent upon climate, water conditions and include additional layers of regulations not limited to local, state or federal regulations.

As more waterways users are enjoying their activity and pursuits, competitions and clubs hosting programs and educational formats, along with other recreational activities, and congestion, access and safety become a greater concern for all involved. Education and safety programs will assist these communities during their growth and expansion.
Paddle Craft-Cal Boating

Canoes, kayaks, and small inflatable rafts are popular means of recreation for thousands of Californians. Paddle craft are usually lighter and more open than larger vessels, and therefore easier to capsize in rough waters. Paddlers should realize the vulnerability of their craft, assess their own boating experience, and determine the level of difficulty the waterway presents. Effective trip planning and paddling skills as described in this pamphlet will help promote safe and enjoyable recreation.
Your craft does not need to be registered unless it is motorized. (You can register your craft at any branch of the Department of Motor Vehicles. On motorized inflatable vessels or on vessels so configured that the registration number on the hull or superstructure would not be clearly visible or adhere, the number must be painted on or attached to backing plates.)
Required and Recommended Safety Devices

All canoes and kayaks as well as inflatable rafts must carry a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (life jacket) for each person aboard. Common sense demands that everyone wear a life jacket whenever afloat.
New or unfamiliar equipment should first be tested in calm water. The craft should be controlled by strong and adequate-size paddles or oars, and spares should be readily available in case one is lost or broken. Additional recommended equipment includes protective foot gear, such as tennis shoes, bailing device, river maps, flashlight, compass, first-aid kit, boat-repair materials, knife, and a 50- to 100-foot throw rope. A helmet should be worn in swift rapids.
California Department of Boating and Waterways link:

Online Reference Material:

Written by Shawn Alladio
Kanalu K38-K38 Water Safety