Whether you’re stand-up paddle boarding on a river, lake or ocean, also impacts the rules you must follow.
- When river stand-up paddle boarding, you’re banned from using a leash.
- You cannot use a stand-up paddle board in swimming areas or designated beach areas unless your board is recreational beach gear
- You cannot cross port entrances and exit channels. At sea, red (right) and green (left) cylindrical buoys mark these channels.
- Do not pass in front of another sea vessel that has restricted manoeuvrability like tugboats or sailboats
- If you’re travelling more than 300m from the coastline, you must inform the authorities and travel with a stand-up paddle board partner.
If you’re planning to take on the waves on a stand-up paddle board, there are some rules that you need to follow. These rules will protect you and your fellow stand-up paddle boarders.
- Don’t Overestimate Your Ability. Check the conditions before you head out and never go on your board if you have doubts about handling the weather. If it’s your first time, start with smaller breaking waves.
- Don’t Abandon Your Board. You must stay with your board at all times. If you find yourself caught in a strong current, stay on your board and wait for it to pass.
- Never Surf in Crowded Spots. You don’t want to injure a swimmer as you try to take on the waves. Head away from the crowds to surf.
- One Surfer, One Wave. Surfing priorities say, one surfer, one wave. Having multiple stand-up paddle boarders on a wave can lead to injuries and accidents. Generally, the surfer closest to the wave surge has priority.
Who has priority varies depending on the type of water you’re on. There are different rules for sea, river and lake stand-up paddle boarding. Here are some of the basic guidelines.
Who has priority at sea is determined by who has the most manoeuvrability. Sea crafts with more manoeuvrability are expected to give way to those with less. As such, stand-up paddle boarders have priority over fast, motorised boats like speedboats and must give way to sea vessels like sailboats or tugboats as these boats can’t move as swiftly as you can.
The British coast guard considers rivers and lakes to be enclosed bodies of waters. On these waters, stand-up paddle boards are small crafts. According to the rules of priority, stand-up paddle boarders must give way to boats bigger than 15m, like barges and cruisers, as well as sailboats. However, motorised boats, less than 15 m, must give way to stand-up paddle boarders.
In the UK, you need a license to travel on inland waterways. You can buy a permit as part of a British Canoe Union (BCU) membership, or from one of the three organisations that manage British waterways.
In addition to following the above rules, you also need to use common sense when stand-up paddle boarding. Never head out in rough stormy conditions and always check the weather before hitting the water. As you practice your techniques, make sure to stay close to shore, so you never end up out of your depth (water or skill level wise). Following the rules and making good decisions is the perfect equation for a fun-filled day on your stand-up paddle board.