Heading out on your paddleboard?
Here is what you need by law in Canada and things you should also consider bringing.
If you are paddling across a body of water, getting from point A to B, you are navigating and require the following under the Small Vessel Regulations by Transport Canada:
- Whistle (sound signalling device)
- Life Jacket/PFD
- Option 1: Carry the lifejacket on board, you must also have a buoyant heaving line at least 15m (49’3”) * does not apply to inflatable PFDs. These must always be worn
- Option 2: Wear your life jacket and no buoyant heaving line is required
- Buoyant Heaving Line at least 15m (49’3) *see above for exception
- Watertight flashlight: required for lowlight or nighttime (after sunset or before sunrise)
If you are parked and playing at a waterfront, dock, surfing or doing SUP yoga then Transport Canada does not consider paddleboarding a regulated vessel for mandatory equipment. However, keep in mind how you are getting to and from these activities such as paddling somewhere to do yoga.
It’s always important to be safe, these laws are there to protect you! Plus, you could also be fined for noncompliance.
Boating laws change so make sure you are up to date!
For more information please see Transport Canada Safe Boating Guide: Safety Tips & Requirements for Pleasure Craft. Page 16 for paddleboarding requirements.
Other recommended safety items:
- A leash: Supported but surprisingly not required by Transport Canada. However, I have met a few Marine Police officers who check for leashes. Especially since most people do not actually have the required buoyant heaving line when not wearing their lifejacket. With the rise in popularity of paddle boarding, I wouldn’t be surprised if a leash will be a requirement in the future. Ensure you’re wearing the proper leash for the type of paddling you are doing. For example a quick-release system for moving water.
A leash is important and should be part of your safety equipment!
- Communication: Be sure your device is charged and in a waterproof case to keep it safe and/or not lose in the water if it is already waterproof
- Navigation: Compass or GPS
- Water: Water is always important to bring but consider bringing extra, especially on hot days
- Attire: Dress for the water temperature. Pack an extra layer and outerwear.
- Sun protection: Hat & sunscreen. Think about bringing bug spray depending on where you’re paddling
- Snacks: Not just nice to have but they could come in handy when you are low on energy or your paddle ends up being longer than planned
- Wallet: ID & Health Card as well as cash or a credit card for emergency situations. It’s also a good idea to have your emergency contact information stored on you like in a pocket on your PFD.
- First Aid Kit: A basic first aid kit with essentials like band-aids, adhesive tape, gauze and wipes.
There will be other pieces of safety equipment you’ll want or need to have depending on the type of paddling you are doing. Especially for remote or longer expeditions or specialty paddles like white water.
Don’t forget to check the conditions and your equipment before heading out. See the blog post on How to Read the Wind for Paddleboarding.
Always be prepared & plan ahead for the best type of adventures!
Outside of Canada? Follow the above as a good guideline but check your local requirements!