By Jean McCormick – March 2023
The sport of SUP boarding has exploded. Hundreds of folks are getting on the waters of Lake Anna with their boards for the first time. It is great, it is fun, but do you know what you need to have and do to be legal.
The U.S Coast Guard has determined that SUP boards operated outside a surfing or swimming area are “vessels” under the United States Coast Guard and DWR restrictions. The following refers to what it means for you when you are outside of those areas.
Each paddler must have a USCG approved Type I, II, III, or appropriate Type V life jacket onboard. This jacket must be the appropriate size and fit for the paddler. It doesn’t have to be worn, although that’s certainly the wisest plan, and one which is strongly recommended.
Paddlers under the age of thirteen must wear a USCG approved Type I, II or III life jacket when outside of the safe area while on federal waters.
A Type V jacket can be worn if it is USCG approved and applicable for the activity. But, if it is an inflatable, the wearer must be at least 16 years old.
Belt, pouch type inflatable jackets must be worn on the person to meet the life jacket regulation. The wearer must be at least 16 in order to wear this type of life jacket.
Sound Producing Device
All paddlers must have a whistle or some type of sound producing device, such as a horn, bell, etc. on board when he is outside of the safe area. This is for his safety to warn other boaters of his whereabouts.
If a boarder is on the water after sunset, he will need to carry a flashlight or similar lighting device to warn other boaters of his whereabouts.
If you have this gear and follow these rules, you will be legal under the USCG and DWR regulations.
Remember on a SUP board you are the most vulnerable person on the water. Watch out for power boats and other crafts; use your signaling devices to help them spot you. Wearing brightly colored life jackets and other apparel on busy waterways can be a life saver.
Also, many boating accidents involve alcohol: it is best to leave the celebration until you get back to shore.
Even though attaching a leash to your board is not a requirement, it is a wise move and will save you much time and energy.
Have a great time on the water and above all, be safe!