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It's the Law


In recent years, paddle sports have become very popular on the coast and on inland lakes. This includes paddleboarding.

Paddleboard Requirements


The U.S. Coast Guard classifies paddleboards as vessels.

Unless used in the surf at the beach like a surfboard, paddleboard users must comply with the USCG’s navigation rules and safety requirements. This includes the following safety equipment.

  • Life Jacket: Paddleboards must have a readily accessible USCG–approved PFD for each person on board. Children under 12 years of age must wear an approved PFD.
  • Sound-Producing Device: Paddleboards must have on board a sound-producing device, such as a police-type whistle.
  • Visual Distress Signals: Paddleboards must carry night signals when operating on federally controlled waters between sunset and sunrise.
  • Navigation Lights: Paddleboards must have at least a flashlight to use as a navigation light when operating between sunset and sunrise or during periods of restricted visibility.
towing a wakeboard
Paddleboards are classified as vessels by the U.S. Coast Guard and have specific requirements for PFDs and other equipment.
Photo Courtesy of Charleston Outdoor Adventures