Paddle Board Rules & Safety 101

by Mariepier Bastien

Safety and regulations in Stand Up Paddle (SUP) should not be neglected. If certain laws exist in terms of lifejackets, other considerations are just as important to ensure safe and secure practice in paddleboarding. To make your life simple, here are the applicable rules and regulations, as well as some words of advice.

Rules and regulations of TRANSPORT CANADA regarding paddle boardsare based on those of human-propelled boats (less than 6 meters long). These rules state that:

  • A person must wear a lifejacketor a personal flotation device of an appropriate size. If a person is wearing his/her lifejacket aboard, the only other items that are required onboard are 1 sound device and 1 waterproof flashlight if the person is travelling at night or during periods with limited visibility.
  • If a person is not wearing their lifejacket (despite the requirement to have one onboard at all times) and has it placed on their board instead, he/she will need to have the 1 flotation device on the board, 1 floating catch rope and 1 sound device.

Which Life Jacket to Choose?

A personal flotation device (PFD) is mandatory while paddleboarding. Many different lifejackets are out on the market, including the following: 

Kayak or Paddle Sport Type:PFD with a specific cut ensuring great mobility, suitable for different body types and featuring several pockets allowing you to store whistles, flashlights and other accessories. An excellent option for those who wish to use it often and for long expeditions. 

Inflatable Waist Bag: Small inflatable waist bag ideal for paddlers who don’t want the hassle of a foam PFD. Features a floatability superior to that of most foam PFDs and can be easily inflated by pulling on the specified cord in one quick shot. These must be worn and cannot simply fit on the board.

Standard Type: It is the life jacket that is the most accessible, for any type of budget ($20 to $300). Safe and visible, it normally dries quite quickly, but limits your paddle movements on the water. With its adjustable strap system, it can be adapted to any body type. It is a great option for the cottage or to be used by multiple people.

Weather and Winds

Wind is an element that we must consider. Just like the current of a river, the direction of the wind can either facilitate or slow down your glide. Therefore, don’t hesitate to check out the weather predictions, paying particular attention to the direction and speed of the wind.

Dress Accordingly

Spring, summer, fall, winter – anytime is a good time to jump in the water. If it is obvious that a Mid-July outing must be accompanied by a good old tube of Coppertone, similarly, an outing in the middle of winter should be accompanied by neoprene clothing or a wetsuit that is guaranteed to keep you warm.

Hydratation and Nutrition

When the sun is beaming and heat waves are present, it is important to stay hydrated. If it may be inconvenient to bring water and snacks onboard, the majority of our SUPs include bungee elastics that allow you to easily secure a bottle of water and a bag of nuts (or Tostitos, if you prefer).

Warn Loved Ones

If you head plan on heading out alone on the water, advise a member of your entourage. Mention departure, arrival time, and the location of your trip. It is also a good idea to bring a cell phone with you that you can store in a waterproof pouch. You probably won’t use it, but it will be there just in case.

Paddleboarding isn't Dangerous

Far from it! However, just like any other nautical sport, we must conform to the applicable laws, wear a PFD and make use of our common sense.

To learn even more about nautical safety, don’t hesitate to contact us or to consult the Transport Canada website.