Buffalo NY area, white light req't

Announcement by Buffalo are authorities that they will start cracking down on kayakers violating NY state bating laws. White light requirement and it sounds like enforcement of rule to stay to the right (and out of the channel)



– Last Updated: Jul-04-16 2:08 AM EST –

kayaks should have lights period. Even if you don't plan to be out at night you could be returning late, get lost or stuck some where. Small ARC light is 12 bucks. Boats have no headlights and some boating people are just stupid and even reckless. I have been a boater for many years. I have crossed large channels around Long Island and it still amazes me why a boat going 30 mph or 70 has to cut close to me by 8 feet. Even if the navigable channel is 300 yards wide. Having a small light on your back deck may still leave you invisible to a boat coming right at you. I always have a rear deck light (http://www.paddling.net/buyersguide/accessories/showProduct.html?prodID=1244&manfID=211&refer=MB_ad) , front light (Navi-light), and a head lamp so I can turn towards a oncoming boat. I also have a whistle on my PDF available in 1 second. It is very dangerous out there at night and in the day time. I went to the Blue Angels Air Show where hundreds of boats were and the stupidity abounded. I was surprised I could stay upright.

There was no such thing as being responsible for your wake. One 30' boat passed me as he planed off throwing a 4' wall of water over my deck and hitting me in the chest. I do a lot of kayaking at night when there are few boats. Night brings out the drinking boaters at times where they hit bridges, pilings and other boats leading to fatalities. I see people driving boats and talking not even looking where they are going all the time. I try to go where they can't on sides of water ways where it;s shallow but I can't do it all the time.

Going out with no light is looking for trouble even in the day time.

Kayak in the dark ?
Why is this ?

outstanding warrant ?

Carry a flashlight

– Last Updated: Jul-04-16 7:16 AM EST –

What I got from the discussion in the comments about NY state law

"manually propelled vessels may carry, in lieu of fixed lights, a lantern with a white light which can be exhibited in sufficient time to prevent a collision."

I was kicked out of the canal in the 70's by the Erie County patrol for not having a fire extinguisher or PFD on my vessel, which happened to be an innertube.

"Stay to the right" has always been the rule in the canal.

Enforcement has been variable
Where the canal gates are just temporary diversions from the main river channel, before it entirely splits, people in paddle boats do end up in the wrong place. The narrowness of the passage where it is fully a separate canal might improve behaviors.

It is not correct, but neither are a number of behaviors that have required laws passed with fines because people can be idiots.

NYS white light requirement

– Last Updated: Jul-04-16 11:03 AM EST –

Some actual text states a white light visible in a 360 degree arc. Ergo the light on the back of the PFD has never been compliant, nor is just a headlamp. Both put together with sufficient brightness might suffice. It has been a while since I dug that out, and it did require some time to find it. But if local authorities want to be picky they can use it from full search into the regs.

But then, having just the lights without SOLAS or similar tape front and back and/or reflective deck rigging to define the shape of who you are is still pushing it IMO. But NYS law does not require that.

Since white lights tend to attract bugs, a really good white light makes the most sense being a couple of feet away from the paddler on a hot summer night. Thus automatically increasing the likelihood it'll meet the 360 degree requirement. It also increases the likelihood of donating the light to the river hitting it with the paddle in the dark, but some things just have a will to get away.

Being out where drunks are... I guess I am getting old. I long ago struck road biking on major holidays off my list, and have the same rule for paddling on lakes where there are a lot of power boaters. Dates that are associated with a lot of partying are a good time to find a quiet pond with motor limits or creek crawl some place the idiots can't fit. A very unfortunate reality is that NY state requires no training or licensing for anyone over 18 to purchase and operate a motor boat, regardless of HP. You cannot assume that the motor boat coming at you is in the hands of someone who has the ability to see you or avoid you.

This is Coast Guard Inland
regulations. I can’t find a source for NYS law that supersedes that


I do find lots of opinions though

A white light should suffice shown in adequate time to avoid a collision

Its common sense to stay out of boating channels. Rules of the road put kayaks way down at the bottom of the pecking order.

That’s how the law reads
In my state and in the NY state law quoted in the comments.

I found the 360 degree thing elsewhere
In regs or discussions of how to enforce regs. Twice when I went looking. Like I said, it took some digging and I am not disposed to go thru that right now. But if I found it anywhere, you can expect that a local officer who would be willing to cite someone in an inner tube for not having a fire extinguisher can also find it.

Im only familiar with Maine
where the USCG requires one white light shined in time to avoid collision. Other lights are not permitted as they are craft type specific, I suppose.

Any other lights were illegal. Including strobes, red and green but that was from an encounter in Connecticut at night with the Coast Guard.


good for the light industry

– Last Updated: Jul-07-16 8:41 PM EST –


you bet...

searching for light strength ? search not. Light Units are lined out.


Struck !


‘white light will be seen by other vessels in 360 degrees.’

So my red cased twinky is OK if mounted seen 360.


If ya can’t teachum to swim at least askum to be visible.

Uh the red light is in the right side n the green light is ….

Lights other than white

– Last Updated: Jul-04-16 7:13 PM EST –

NY has the same issue with the red/green lights on paddling craft, because it could leave some other boater mistaking them for a craft with the ability to motor out of the way. And an educated boater is supposed to rocket towards you if they see a strobe since it means distress. That said, some like them and I have never heard of any of those folks getting a warning. I stay with white.

NY has a lot of inland lakes and rivers, and the canal itself, where the patrols are ceded to authorities other than the Coast Guard. It is similar to what was discovered after the sinking of the Ethan Allen on Lake George. A letter existed that showed NY state had requested and been given the final authority on approving that a boat was safe after any modifications. Said letter was in a filing cabinet at CG's regional headquarters in Portland, found by a senior civilian employee of the CG after being asked for documentation by the husband of my godchild.

On many lakes the authority for on-water regulation is held by the county sheriff or similar. I have been on inland paddles where we were looked over by a form of auxiliary guys in a boat together, not necessarily CG auxiliary. Not really sure who they were, but they certainly felt they had the right to enforce the white light thing. Whether there are specific letters that assigned responsibility for all of this I don't know. But it is not necessarily the CG who will be interpreting the rules.

Once the summer season hits and drunk boaters are out there, probably best in any trafficked area to hug the shoreline close enough that the bottom will get ripped out of their boat before they hit you.

Suffolk County / Long Island
Now requires all operators to have a boating course. Soon it will be the whole state.

all boaters?
Inland rules usually apply to kayakers on the ocean or inland on lakes. When you paddle from Boothbay Harbor to Damariscove Island its inland rules.

A paddler safety course might be useful. Yes unwelcome for some.

I will be d^*@d, I was wrong

– Last Updated: Jul-04-16 8:05 PM EST –

They finally did it, statewide no less. Just found it as of May 1 2014, all NY state motor boaters born after 1996 are require to take a safety course. That said, there is a scary loophole - "Certain allowances to this law have been made for visitors to New York, persons renting a boat from a livery and persons purchasing a new boat for the first time. "

Just the people you most want to have to take the course...

At some point I will have to take a look at the course, see how it compares to the one I had to take to be an young operator.

I was pre-occupied with a major life issue right around then, not surprising I didn't notice it. By the way, at the same time the state superceded any local regs on the same issue, Suffolk County is specifically noted.

For clarification… its motor boaters
only correct?

Not that there are no dumbkopfs in paddle craft at times.

I’ve only been complimented by boating enforcement of all types here in CT for having red/green on the bow and white on the stern at night.

I don’t paddle at night much anymore, so that may have changed in the 3 years or so, but they have in my experience been very happy to see a yakker with bow/stern lights, reflective decklines and a headlamp in the past.

They are starting to clamp down on whistles and pfds at public launches now, and even whether or not you’ve washed your boat since your last foray into fresh water (been there, seen it happen), but as I said, maybe they’ve changed their tune on proper lighting.

It may be "somewhere"
But it’s not in the New York State boating laws for manually powered vessels under 23 feet long.

Boating laws in NY are under “Parks and Recreation” and there are many sources out there on the net. NY law does not require a 360 degree light for a kayak but states you must have a white light, whistle, and PFD…

I live in Buffalo and have power boated for 20 years and have been kayaking for two since selling the big boat. With downtown development of the waterfront over the past few years things are getting very crowded on the waterways and everyone is fighting for space.

5 years ago you rarely saw a kayak in the lake. Now it’s not uncommon to see dozens and dozens pass down the Buffalo River in a very short amount of time. When you add potentially hundreds of power boats to the equation things can get really dangerous - especially without lights.

I have always used color LED lights at night on the kayak but need to find a few good “white” lights to avoid a ticket. Besides the kayaks and power boats, another thing we are not short of is police boats.

nothing but white light in PA
I Pennsylvania, kayaks and canoes are expressly forbidden from displaying anything but static white lights (a flashing light is reserved for distress signal). You will be warned or ticketed for using colored lights, hull illumination lights or anything that flashes, cycles or strobes (unless you are in trouble.)

I agree with the prohibition on the red and/or green lights. These are reserved for powered craft and having them could, as mentioned, convey the false impression in the dark that you are larger and under power.

It would be nice if states could standardize AND simplify the wording of boating safety requirements. So many are a cobbling together of various add-ons that have to be waded through. A simple chart with boat types, conditions and requirements would make it clearer to both the operators and enforcers (many of whom seem to be unsure of the regulations themselves.)

And, damn, when are the states going to start encouraging or even mandating PFD use (like at least requiring them in certain waters and conditions)? I bit my tongue when we were putting in at a local lake on Saturday beside a family that was launching their power boat – they had a 5 or 6 year old kid with them who was throwing a sustained screaming blubbering hissy fit over wearing his PFD (they are required to be worn at all time on the water in PA only for kids under 14). I couldn’t help but think that it would have been a whole lot easier to deal with him if the parents and two teenagers had put theirs on too.