Delaware Law for SUPs

dnrec logoFrom DNREC’s Website…Are you AWARE? DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police reminds paddle boarders – especially those new to the increasingly popular sport – to review Delaware’s boating laws and regulations and how they apply to paddle boards before heading out on the waterways.

In recent years, the sport of paddle boarding has grown immensely in popularity in Delaware. Paddle boarders can often be seen on many of Delaware’s waterways throughout the summertime.

So just what is a paddle board? A paddle board is configured similarly to a surfboard, but is usually longer and thicker than a traditional surfboard. The operator of a paddle board stands upright on the board and propels it through the water by using a long paddle.

The United States Coast Guard and the state of Delaware recognize a paddle board as a vessel when operated outside the confines of a surfing or swimming area. Therefore, many of the same requirements for personal flotation devices, visual distress signals, sound producing devices and the use of a navigational light after sunset apply when paddle boards are operated in Delaware waters.

A paddle board less than 16 feet in length must meet the following safety equipment requirements when operated in Delaware waters:

  1.  All paddle boarders must have a United States Coast Guard-approved life jacket on board.
  2.  Any child age 12 and younger must wear a USCG-approved life jacket at all times while on a paddle board.
  3.  Paddle boarders must carry a whistle or horn, or some other sounding device capable of making an efficient sound signal.
  4.  When operating between the hours of sunset and sunrise, paddle boarders must carry a visual distress signal – an electric distress light or flares – suitable for night use. This applies to all boards operated on coastal waters and directly-connected waters (bays, sounds, harbors, rivers, inlets, etc.)  which are two miles wide or wider.
  5.  When operating between the hours of sunset and sunrise, a paddle boarder also must have an electric torch or lighted lantern showing a white light ready at hand for use as a navigation light, which must be exhibited in sufficient time to prevent collision.

Paddle boards longer than 16 feet may have additional safety requirements.

For more information on safe boating practices in Delaware, including more details on life jackets and other safety equipment, please visit http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/Boating/Pages/Delaware_Boating_Safety.aspx