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What's Up Magazine

U.S. Coast Guard Presents Paddlefest

Mar 21, 2011 06:52PM ● By Anonymous

The purpose of PaddleFest is to present to the public not only the latest in canoes, kayaks, and gear, but also the newest boating safety equipment that will satisfy state and federal requirements, along with additional recommended equipment.

Paddle sports are the fastest-growing boating activities. With gas prices predicted to rise to $4.00 a gallon again this summer (and, possibly, $5/gal by 2012), many boaters will again curtail their powerboating activities, and get their families into paddleboats. The benefits of paddleboating are many, in addition to the outdoor physical activity that it offers. Once the equipment is purchased, there is nothing else to buy. The vessels don't need fuel, they don't need to be registered in Maryland, there are no dockage fees (as the boats can be stored in the garage, basement, or back yard), and no trailers are needed (one can transport up to four boats on the top of a car).

However, to operate a paddleboat on Maryland waters, there MUST be one life jacket onboard for each person in the boat. Additionally, if the vessel is under 21 feet (which most are) and the people in the boat are under the age of 13, the life jackets MUST be worn while underway. Of course, we recommend that they be worn by everyone onboard. You must also have a sound-producing device (whistle, horn, etc.), and a light for operating the vessel after sundown and in reduced visibility. This also includes paddleboards! (If paddling by hand, the board is not a vessel; however, once a paddle is used, it is then considered a vessel, and all rules apply!)*

Indoor vendors at PaddleFest include:

US Coast Guard Auxiliary

Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police/Boating Safety

West Marine

Spring River Kayak Rentals

Backyard Boats/Hobie kayaks

American Canoe Association

Outdoors, we will be conducting FREE vessel safety checks between 11AM and 2PM. Bring your boat, along with your lifejacket and all required equipment* to receive your inspection, and earn your free safety sticker for 2011. If you don't have the equipment, you will NOT get a ticket. You will have the opportunity to acquire what you need, and then the vessel can be reinspected.

On the docks, we plan to have flare demonstrations between 11AM and 2PM, as well as a chance for boaters to dispose of their expired flares. We also hope to have a visiting vessel from US Coast Guard Station Annapolis, pending a mission.

Two of the biggest programs this year are Operation PaddleSmart and the new PaddleSafe boating course, which is specifically aimed at paddlers. PaddleSmart is a program developed by the US Coast Guard to "generate greater safety awareness among paddlers and small boat operators". The primary goals are to promote the wearing of life jackets, to make boaters aware of hypothermia and weather, to encourage paddler education, to ID the boat, and to stress prudent and responsible boating.

When the authorities come upon an empty boat that's adrift, they immediately start a search mission, which can be both lengthy and costly. Most often, the boat simply floated away from a beach or dock and the owner/operator is safely at home. The US Coast Guard has free ID stickers onto which the owner puts his/her name and phone numbers. If found, the authorities can notify the owner of the craft, and no search will be necessary. Also, the owner can then get the vessel back! There will be plenty of these free stickers at PaddleFest.

*For a complete list of required and recommended equipment, go to

PaddleFest is co-sponsored by the Annapolis Maritime Museum, and is a part of the Four Rivers Heritage Area. PaddleFest is also part of the Maryland Day activities from March 25-27, 2011.

For further information, go to