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MA Paddlecraft Safety Information (Laws & Regulations)



Paddlecraft include kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddleboard (SUPs).

Each of these are considered vessels by the U.S. Coast Guard, as well as the Massachusetts Environmental Police, and Harbormasters. As a result, paddlecraft users are required to follow the laws and regulations specific to their type and size vessel.

  1. From September 15 - May 15 life jackets must be worn when paddling 
  2. From May 16 - September 14 life jackets must be onboard and readily accessible - however it is highly recommended you wear your life jacket at all times throughout the year
  3. A sound producing device is required: We suggest attaching a whistle to your life jacket. This can be used to signal other vessels, or to call attention in the case of emergency
  4. If paddling between sunset and sunrise you must have a navigation light. This can be a white beam flashlight or an "all around" 360 degree mounted white light. 
  5. If paddling between sunset and sunrise you must carry (3) Coast Guard approved nigh time visual distress signals

Tips for Safe Paddling: 
  1. Wear Your Life Jacket with a Whistle attached
  2. File a Float Plan With Someone Ashore
  3. Get an "If Found" decal and place on your paddlecraft that has your name, address and a phone number of someone ashore
  4. Carry a manual bailer or pump
  5. Carry a Marine VHF Radio 
  6. Check the weather and tides before you go
  7. Get a Vessel Safety Check 
  8. Take a Safe Paddling Course 
To learn more contact our Flotilla Staff Officer - Vessel Exams