PADDLERsmart! USA Knowledge Base

Module 04 - Safe Boat Operation


Paddle craft are small, quiet and can be more difficult to see on the water than other types of boats. As a paddler, you will always have the right-of-way over motorized boat traffic. However, never assume that other boaters have spotted you in a crossing situation. You should also never assume that motorized boat operators will be able to maneuver around your paddle craft. Stay alert when you’re paddling to avoid being in the path of motorized boat traffic. 


You are responsible for knowing and following the Navigation Rules for paddling:

  • Always paddle as close to shore as possible.
  • Cross channels as a group to increase your visibility.
  • Avoid areas with heavy motorized boat traffic.
  • Keep a sharp lookout at all times.
  • Identify yourself to other boaters using navigation lights and sound signals when there is the risk of collision or in conditions with reduced visibility.
  • Always turn the bow of your paddle craft into the wake produced by motorized boats (position the paddle craft at a 45° angle) to prevent the waves from flipping the paddle craft over.
  • Share information about waterway hazards with other paddlers.


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