You may have seen people enjoying a new form of recreation on the Whitefish Chain and other area lakes the last few summers. As a DNR enforcement officer, I receive questions about this type of watercraft, including:
• Do those paddleboards need to be registered or licensed as a watercraft?
• Does the person (or people) on the paddleboard need a life jacket?
The answer to both is yes! And yes!
The 2013 Minnesota Boating Guide addresses these very questions. Stand-up paddleboards that are longer than 10 feet in length (most are) must be registered as a watercraft, display valid registration and carry (or wear) a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket for each person.
If the person on the paddleboard is under age 10, he/she must be wearing the PFD. If the person is older, the life jacket may be just “on the board” — but why not wear it?
As we tell all students in our boating safety classes, if you cannot remember anything else from class, remember these four words: WEAR YOUR LIFE JACKET!
Note: New on Jan. 1, 2013, non-motorized watercraft 10 feet in length or less are not required to be licensed or registered (previously it was non-motorized 9 feet or less).
(This column is published on behalf of the Whitefish Chain Yacht Club.)