Stand up paddle boards can be a confusing paddle craft. Are they like surfboards or are they more like canoes? Apparently, they are both. When it comes to Transport Canada regulations for paddle boards the waters are a bit murky. We wanted to clear up a bit of the understanding around SUP safety and what you need to do to be safe and Transport Canada compliant.
Transport Canada regulations for paddleboards
Transport Canada specifies that you must be wearing a PFD or lifejacket on a paddleboard. When wearing this PFD you are also required to have a sound signalling device such as a whistle. If paddling after sunset or before sunrise, or in a period of restricted visibility, you are also required to paddle with a light.
Paddle Canada has specified that the Transport Canada regulations are required when you are using a paddleboard as a navigational vessel. A vessel is used for navigational purposes if you are paddling across a body of water or from Point A to Point B. Non-navigational activity includes surfing beach break or waves, paddling around or near a dock, or park and play near the shoreline. If you choose not to wear a PFD while paddling, a PFD must still be on the board with you as well as a whistle and buoyant heaving line.
Common Sense Paddle Safety for SUPs
Although it appears that you do not have to wear a PFD or lifejacket in some cases, we are strong advocates for ALWAYS wearing a PFD. It is a simple safety precaution that saves lives.
A leash is also not required when paddling a SUP but if you have done any amount of paddling on any kind of board (surfboard or boogie board etc.) you know what happens when you fall off. A board can very quickly drift out of reach if you fall or jump into the water and if it’s windy they can blow away from you faster than you can swim. This distance can prove dangerous or even fatal in many conditions. The easiest way to stay safe while paddling is to wear a leash. Should you find yourself in the water, a leash will mean that your board stays close at hand.
The Conclusion on SUP Safety
Transport Canada requires you to wear a PFD and have a louder than voice sound signalling device when using a SUP for navigation. Common sense says have a leash attached to your ankle or calf.
We recommend getting into the habit of always having the following when paddling your stand up paddleboard:
- Leash – attached to you at the ankle or calf
- A PFD or lifejacket – wearing this at all times.
- A Whistle or louder than voice sound signalling device.
**There are times when wearing a PFD gets in the way for paddling but these times would not be navigational. We are referring to SUP yoga in a shallow area close to shore or surfing waves that are coming into the beach. Always wear your leash. Always.**
Stand Up Paddleboarding is the perfect activity for Vancouver Island. With all of the lakes and sheltered shorelines available to explore, it is easy to get into paddleboarding and grow your skills and knowledge. You could get into touring style paddleboarding, SUP surfing or even downwind racing. Come on in and rent a board if you are not ready to own.