Traffic Rules For Paddlers

In partnership with the U.S. Coastguard and the Water Sports Foundation, instructors Paul and Kate Kuthe of the American Canoeing Association give the how-to on navigating harbours and marinas in Safer Paddling Series: Episode 6.

Boat traffic, especially in harbours and marinas, can make your kayaking trip risky.  It’s important to understand the proper navigation rules. These can be downloaded online or found at any boating store.

Kate Kuthe navigates a busy channel in a kayak.

Boats don’t come with brakes. So if you have any doubt, stay clear.

A powerboat crossing through a deepwater channel.

Most ships stay in the shipping channels—these are marked with red and green numbered channel markers. To avoid collisions, stay out of the deepwater channel. If you must cross it, look both ways and cross at a 90-degree angle.

Paul Kuthe makes sure he is seen by a powerboat.

Motorboats, sailboats, and ships sit much higher in the water than kayaks, making it challenging for them to see you. Wear bright clothing and paddle defensively.

Be smart. Be safe. Have fun.

As a United Stated Coast Guard nonprofit grant recipient, the Water Sports Foundation produces paddling safety outreach materials and distributes them through boating and paddling media providers. Paddle sports currently has an inordinately high rate of accidents and deaths that for the past five years has been increasing, while power boating stats have been decreasing during the same period. The goal is to create heightened public awareness of safer paddling making paddle sports safer and to ultimately reduce the total number of paddle sports related deaths annually.


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