Marine law enforcement agencies on Washington state’s marine and fresh waterways will conduct safety emphasis patrols over Labor Day weekend — specifically targeting stand up paddleboarders. The goal is to educate them about laws and safe practices.

“Stand up paddleboarders need to know that as soon as their board leaves a designated swim area or goes beyond the surf, it is considered a vessel and therefore subject to recreational boating laws,” said Rob Sendak, State Parks boating law administrator.

Neilson Barnard

Every vessel, no matter the size — including kayaks, canoes and stand up paddleboards, is required by federal and Washington state laws to carry the following:

  • Life jackets
    • People 13 years of age or older must carry a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket in good condition. The life jacket must be the right size and type for the person wearing it.
    • All children 12 years of age or younger must always wear their life jacket while on board.
    • Inflatable life jackets are authorized only for people 16 years of age or older.
  • Sounding device – horn, whistle or bell.
  • White all-around navigation light – during low visibility such as dusk to dawn, fog or heavy rain.
  • Visual distress signals (such as flares) – required only on federal waterways.

“The law requires people to carry a life jacket. We strongly recommend people choose to always wear one, along with a leash, for maximum safety on the water,” Sendak added.

The penalty for failing to carry the proper safety equipment is a civil infraction punishable by a fine of $99 for each violation. For example, a stand up paddleboarder without an appropriate life jacket and sounding device could be charged with two violations for a possible fine totaling $198.