Legal Regulations: Kayak, Canoe, and SUP Lighting
Whether you know it or not, when you take your kayak, canoe, or SUP out on the water you are navigating a vessel. All vessels under navigation must follow the regulations enforced by the US Coast Guard.
Who makes these regulations?
To fully understand the regulations, you must first consider who makes these laws. The US Coast Guard (a federal administrative agency) and Homeland Security (a federal executive department) set these regulations in place as a means to implement the authority of laws. Well, who makes these laws? These laws are enacted by Congress and only by Congress! Once adopted by Congress, the administrative and executive agencies (the US Coast Guard and Homeland Security) develop regulations to enforce these laws.
What are the legal regulations about kayak, canoe, and SUP lighting?
Rule 25d of the Navigation Center by the US Coast Guard states that a vessel under oars may exhibit the lighting required by sailing vessels, however if not, you must have “ready at hand an electric torch or lighted lantern showing a white light which shall be exhibited in sufficient time to prevent collision.” Source: Rule 25 – Navigation Center via US Coast Guard.
There are also regulations about lighting when anchored. At night, all vessels at anchor (in or near a narrow channel, fairway, or anchorage where other vessels normally navigate) that are under 23 feet in length must display “anchor lights” which is an all-around white light visible where it can be seen from all directions. When referring to Coast Guard Approved Lights, a 2 Nautical Mile Standard is used. Source: US Coast Guard Federal Requirements Page 30-31
While we expect Coast Guard regulations and the laws in place to get a little more developed for kayaks, canoes, and SUPs in the future, all we can do for now is stay as safe as possible while, at a minimum, following their regulations! However, the safer, the better.
For information on visibility and safety products, check out How to Improve Your On the Water Visibility through Conspicuity.