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Course Outline

Paddler with leash

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

  • The USCG 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 for this type of vessel. This includes the following safety equipment.
    • PFD: 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 a sound-producing device on board. A police-type whistle meets this requirement. Consider tying the whistle to your PFD or wearing it around your neck in case you are separated from your paddleboard.
    • VDSs: Paddleboards must carry night signals when operating on federally controlled waters between sunset and sunrise.
    • Navigation Lights: When used between sunset and sunrise or during periods of restricted visibility, paddleboards must have the same navigation lights as any other unpowered vessel. A flashlight meets this requirement.
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