Carrying signal gear requirement

cougarmeat

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I read a post in another tread about a paddler who was stopped for inspection. In addition to a PFD, there was mention of required (in Washington) signaling devices. If you are paddling with a group (one or more others) must everyone have their own flares or flashlight, etc.? I understand the everyone should have a PFD, but does everyone have to carry flares or smoke? Can just the “group leader” be so equipped. I do understand that something could happen to that leader’s gear. But that’s a lot of “stuff” and even on guided trips, we weren’t all required (by the guides) to carry night time signaling devices (i.e. flares).
 

CPS

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Not sure about requirements in the USA, but in Canada one needs a few things to be legal in most kayaks.
For signal gear a whistle will do for day time. But in dark, of foggy one is required to have a light.
Boats over 6m, which would include some tandems, require flares as well as a light. I can't recall if they're required at all times, but I think they are.
 

alexsidles

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Washington State Parks has a convenient (and mostly accurate) chart of required equipment here. The chart incorporates both state and federal law, which is nice. See the far-right column, "Human-Powered, Any Length" for rules that apply to us.

I say the chart is "mostly accurate," because the rules actually vary depending on whether your kayak is over or under 16 feet in length, and whether you are on the water between sunset and sunrise, and whether you are in "coastal waters," a term whose technical definition is:
  • those waters (i.e., bays, sounds, harbors, rivers, inlets, etc.) directly connected to the territorial seas of the state of Washington where any entrance exceeds two nautical miles between opposite shorelines to the first point where the largest distance between shorelines narrows to two miles, as shown on the current edition of the appropriate National Ocean Service chart used for navigation. Shorelines of islands or points of land present within a waterway are considered when determining the distance between opposite shorelines.
WAC 352-60-020.

Don't you just love it! But it's not as complicated as it seems. If your crossing from shore to shore is longer than two miles, then you're in coastal waters. You yourself do not have to be two miles from shore to be in coastal waters—coastal waters extend all the way to the beach, so long as the crossing is at least two miles. This is undoubtedly why the Coast Guard felt empowered to stop me between Alki Point and Bainbridge Island, a crossing of nearly three miles, even though I was less than two miles from Bainbridge at the time of the stop.

The chart is misleading with regards to nighttime signals. The chart makes it sound as if kayaks of any length in coastal waters must always carry nighttime signals, but in reality, the rule is that kayaks under 16 feet in coastal waters only need to carry nighttime signals if they are on the water between sunset and sunrise. See WAC 352-60-040(2)(a) (state law); 33 CFR § 175.110(b) (federal law). The chart is correct, however, that kayaks of any length in the coastal waters must always carry day signals, and kayaks over 16 feet in the coastal waters must always carry both day and night signals, regardless of time of day. Some types of signal double as both day and night signals. Don't forget your whistle.

And with that, I have devoted quite enough of my mental energy to parsing these joyless rules.

Alex
 

AM

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Paddle Canada has this on their site, which is as sensible a summary as any:

A19BEA5D-CD1D-45B5-97EB-6BF17BB25136.jpeg
 
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Peter-CKM

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San Francisco, CA
The chart is correct, however, that kayaks of any length in the coastal waters must always carry day signals, and kayaks over 16 feet in the coastal waters must always carry both day and night signals, regardless of time of day. Some types of signal double as both day and night signals. Don't forget your whistle.
Thanks for a very informative response.

Is a whistle a day signal? Or if not, what would be a day signal?

Is the 16' and over day and night signal a Washington Dtate requirement, or a Federal requirement? I hadn't heard that before and haven't been following it here in California, so looking to know if I am not following the rules.
 

cougarmeat

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Wait - I’ve tested it out. And you know what, I can hear my whistle at night too! If the whistle - an audible signal, qualifies as a signal during the day, then, assuming it is still audible at night - which mine is - then I’d think it should still qualify as a night signaling device.

Someone might say, “But cougar (meat), they can SEE you during the day. But they can see me during the day if I had a whistle or not. If “seeing me” were the issue, then the whistle signaling device is out of the equation.

But I’d probably better not argue that. It’s like the time I crossed into Canada and at the busy entrance - with lots of big trucks - I missed the sign that said boats had to pull over for inspection. About half a mile down the road I saw a mountie’s flashers. He pulled me over, saying I had run passed the boat inspection point. I told him I didn’t see it. He gave the old, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse …” line. I was about to tell him that even if I knew the law by heart, I still would have driven on because I didn’t see the sign. But I though better of it. I also didn’t say, “You Canadians are so nice, why didn’t the customs guy - who could clearly see the boats on the roof - say, “Remember to pull over for inspection, eh.” Frankly, I think a semi pulled out the same time we did and his trailer blocked the sign as we went by.

The mountie told us to go back for inspection and he’d only issue a warning. He told me that the fine would have been about $345. I just squeezed the steering wheel and bit my tongue to prevent me from saying, “But that’s $345 Canadian, right?"

When we got back to the inspection point, the inspectors - looked like about four kids in their 20’s standing around drinking coffee and chatting with each other. were about 45 ft (15M - it’s Canada) away. I walked over and said they were supposed to inspect my boat. One of the guys just looked over at my boat (15M away) and said, “Okay, it’s clean.” and maybe signed a paper or something. Taxpayer's money at work.
 
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alexsidles

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Seattle WA
Is a whistle a day signal? Or if not, what would be a day signal?

Is the 16' and over day and night signal a Washington Dtate requirement, or a Federal requirement?
Oh dear, I hope I don't turn into WCP's safety rules lawyer! I hate everything about this stuff!

A whistle is neither a day signal nor a night signal. It is, instead, a sound signal. Per the chart from Washington State parks, a sound signal is required of all boats, in all waters, at all times. The requirement to carry a sound signal is in addition to any requirement for day signals (properly, daytime visual distress signals) and, in some circumstances, night signals (nighttime visual distress signals). A list of visual distress signals—day, night, and both—is at 33 CFR § 175.310.

The requirement to carry sound signals and visual signals arises out of both Washington law (WAC 352-60-040, -065) and federal law (33 CFR §§ 83.33(b) and 175.110). However, either or both of Washington and federal law may set different requirements based on length of boat, time of day, and whether the boat is in "coastal waters." In addition, the application of federal law may be limited depending on whether the boat is within the Coast Guard's jurisdictional waters, defined here for the Pacific Northwest. (But notice the incredible list of caveats at the beginning—the Coast Guard itself can't say exactly where its jurisdiction lies!) You cannot derive simple, universal rules. The rules vary depending on the circumstances.

As for your situation, you obviously can't extrapolate Washington state law to California, and you may not even be able to extrapolate the application of federal law in Washington to California because the Coast Guard's jurisdictional waters may be different in California than in Washington.

If you care about strict compliance with this stuff, then just follow the chart when you are in Washington, bearing in mind that the chart is misleading about night signals for kayaks under 16 feet. (Short kayaks only need to carry night signals when they are in coastal waters at night.) If you need to know California rules, you'll need to look for a similar, credibly-sourced chart that applies down there, or you will have to actually read California law and federal law and figure out for yourself what rules apply.

Alex
 
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Mac50L

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South Island, New Zealand
What a marvelous set of instructions - mad. Previously mentioned, new law in Washington State - has it been passed yet?

What is a VDS? One is required per the regulations, a Vanderbilt Divinity School, Virtual Dedicated Server, Virtual Distributed Switch? Correctly, use the abbreviation with full words in brackets the first time and the abbreviation from then on, in a document.

OK, under Wiki it is mentioned but not what one is. "Visual Distress Signal, in boating, to attract attention in an emergency". Waving your hat could be considered to be a VDS. Yes? No?

Whistles - you could throw a rock further up wind than the distance you can hear a whistle. Yes, tried using a whistle and failed.

The "Required-Boating-Equipment-Checklist" PDF isn't much good as there is only one page and the rest of the data defining things is missing from the link.

Registration? OK, it appears kayaks might be exempt. Here all that is needed is the owner's name and contact written somewhere in the kayak in case it is found abandoned.

Navigation lights required - green and red? A masthead light too? All that is needed here is a torch to be used if needed.

For a country with lax gun laws, it all looks ridiculous. OK, a laugh for those of us who don't need to worry about them i.e. live south of the equator.
 

cougarmeat

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Hey Mac50L, If I don’t make it to New Zealand in this lifetime, maybe the next. Might even arrange to be born there. You guys (and gals) rock.

Congratulations on America’s Cup win and thank you for bringing the boat design back to monohulls.

It reminds me of the kerfuffle over compound bows. They were such a radical departure over the traditional recurve that eventually they got their own competition class. It’s like, sure, cars can go faster than horses but they still have horse races and cars are not allowed to compete.

Maybe the same thinking should apply to multi-hulls in a traditional monohull race.

The one time I might have blown a whistle is when I saw a black bear on the Oregon PCT trail. Once I got the whistle to my lips, I was only sucking air in. I figured the best I could do was throw the whistle at him. But he was 30 - 40 yards away and didn’t want to meet me either. We went our separate ways. A whistle might be useful to signal someone when you are calm. but it’s hard to blow when you are hyperventilating.
 
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Mac50L

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Hey Mac50L, If I don’t make it to New Zealand in this lifetime, maybe the next. Might even arrange to be born there. You guys (and gals) rock.
And life goes on here as normal while the rest of the world has medical problems...
Congratulations on America’s Cup win and thank you for bringing the boat design back to monohulls.
REAL yachts, Yes? All my life of sailing has been in monohulls, except a short 10(?) minutes once in a cat.
The one time I might have blown a whistle is when I saw a black bear on the Oregon PCT trail. ..... A whistle might be useful to signal someone when you are calm. but it’s hard to blow when you are hyperventilating.
The bears we had walking past in the Queen Charlotte Islands, as soon as they spotted us turned and quickly wandered off. And yes, a whistle in calm contions is about all it is good for. If it is a really loud one it should be mandatory to wear ear protection. Next safety item required on your kayak, work standard ear muffs.
 

Mac50L

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Aug 18, 2014
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South Island, New Zealand
We were out for a couple of hours yesterday. The wind got up, possibly to 5 knots and the waves were enormous, at least 3 finger width high (note widths not lengths), temperature about 22C... Gear? None other than wearing PFDs and a sack to collect pine cones in off the island for kindling for our fire. A sack full of pine cones certainly makes a more stable kayak!!! Fortunately where we paddle there are never, ever, any officials out looking to make a nuisance of themselves.

Coast guard? Never ever see any and it is a we don't bother you, you don't bother us thing.
 
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