AUGUST | SEPTEMBER 2017 BoatU.S. Magazine | 43
how far a sharp piercing sound like that
Carol Newman Cronin paddleboards every
day around busy Newport and Jamestown,
Rhode Island. She’s a writer, editor, and
From the boater’s point of view
Especially in areas with lots of SUP
rentals, users may not be well versed in
navigation rules. In order to share busy
harbors, let’s look at the sport from Susan
Shingledecker’s boating perspective.
On any given day, boaters can be faced with a minefield of commer- cial traffic, moored boats, kids sailing Optis, and flotillas of kayakers and
stand-up paddleboarders. SUPs are considered vessels, so operators must follow
the same navigation rules as other boats.
For many, however, this may be their
first time on the water, so for boaters,
collision avoidance should supercede all
other considerations. Here are a few tips
for boaters to help us all share the water:
Move slowly in congested waters.
Allow time for others to see you and
Pay close attention when entering
and exiting slips and fairways. Novice
paddleboarders often like to stay close to
docks for added security, making them
difficult to see.
Assign a spotter. It’s smart, especially
when lots of paddlers are around,
to assign a designated lookout stationed
in an area of the boat that offers maximum visibility.
Expect the unexpected. Paddlers falling off their boards can happen easily.
Watch your wake. Being aware of
our wake is always important, but even
more so with SUPs around. Even a
modest wake can send a paddler into the
drink. Reduce speed whenever operating
in congested waterways, especially near
paddlers and SUPs.
Use clear signals to indicate your
intentions. When making sudden
changes of direction or crossing the path
of paddlers, point to your chest first, then
hold your arm out in the direction you
intend to go. (Repeat a few times.)
Assess the skills of paddlers near
you. Paddlers making strong strokes and
good progress likely are more stable
and predictable. Paddlers unsteady on
their feet, sitting on boards, or making little progress may be inexperienced.
Look for light at night. While SUPs,
kayaks, and other paddlecraft are required
to carry appropriate lights for operating after dark, the assortment of lighting methods used varies from suction-mounted navigation lights to headlamps
to glow sticks. Be suspect of any lights
you see on the water at night.
Help others in distress. Especially
in cooler temperatures, keep an eye out
for paddlers and any other boaters who
could be in distress. Many paddlers don’t
carry VHF radios or other signaling
devices and have limited means of seeking assistance.
Susan Shingledecker, vice president of the
nonprofit BoatU.S. Foundation, started
boating on the Great Lakes and now enjoys
exploring Chesapeake Bay with her family
on their 28-foot sailboat.
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