Certifications vs. Regulations

The recent threads on this are mixing too many issues together. I would like to separate of a couple parts of this as follows:

  1. ACA/BCU type programs are primarily teaching boat handling and rescue skills, and navigation and isues related general safety, to increase paddler confidence and capabilities.

  2. The Government bodies are primarily concerned with the general safe operation of all types of vessels on public waterways. They could care less if we can execute a decent bow rudder or roll our boats. They just don’t want us killing or injuring anyone, including ourselves, or disrupting others by operating without basic understanding of the rules and respect for other traffic.


    Once this distinction is made, it become clear that any near term legislation would likely be along the lines of the general requirements for motor operators: Basic boater safety courses, minimal safety equipment on board, and boat registration (which many have already). While these steps may be a pain for some, I think most of us could live with them and they would have minimal impact on our paddling.

    Using the threat of legislation as some sort of push for ACA/BCU type certification is a distortion. Mixing apples and oranges.

    Such certifications, and more importantly the training leading to them, may be of great use to many paddlers - but are not likely to reduce any added Government requirements on paddlers. That is driven by the lowest level of paddler, not the highest.

    The only possible benefit I see is that the governing bodies may seek out some “experts” for input, and give more credence to their input based on experience and “star” qualifications. That’s along shot though, as “experts” opinions can be ignored when the issue at hand is regulating non-experts. That also assumes the “expert” input would be in the general interest and not just their own as a way to increase training requirements.

    A possible downside is these organizations attract attention and present paddling in an often less than recreational light. Their focus on skills development, while commendable and a valuable service to the paddling community internally, can make kayaking appear even more dangerous and in need of regulation to an outsider.

    Let the instructors and top paddlers continue serve as examples, and show the rest what is possible if they want more out of paddling. Keep them out of politics.

Fight’s over…
Since there is nothing on the books for mandatory certification of kayakers in my state, I can go back to working on my load list. Heck, we don’t even have to register our boats here. Just added a Western Mountaineering Bristlecone to my inventory since we don’t have to spend money on certification. (It was an early Christmas present from my wife.)

Isle Royale here I come….

Regulation in the wind, my butt….

Not shoot each other in the foot?
How about another perspective. Is it possible the powers that be are not interested in regulating kayaking because of people dying, but intsead our growing numbers are becoming a hassle to power and sail boaters, and most importantly, commercial boat traffic? There are a number of sports that have little or no regulation and much higher injury and fatality rates than kayaking, but they do not necessarily conflict with other bigger economic interests.

Maybe all we need is to not pick fights with each other and simply educate kayakers and those to be on how to share the water in a way that honors all of us out there? I am not for sneaking around as if we don’t count for anything, but seriously I have friends who are so irresponsible as to be complete jerks, hassling people fishing, water skiing, getting in the way of big commercial boats, getting overwrought about having to bring a light for night travel, not bringing any rescue and recovery gear and calling the coast guard as if they were a taxi, etc. Let’s clean our own house before we take on the feds perhaps, and maybe we don’t need to have forced certification, just structured learning for those who it suits.

Make The “Guilty” Pay…

– Last Updated: Nov-18-04 7:19 PM EST –

is my motto. I have said this before (I think a year or two ago), if you need to be rescued, then you should paid for that rescue.

I believe, in fact, it was Greyak who said this goes against the grain of moral obligation of helping in the high seas. I don't see how it does that. I obligated to help but you obligated to bear some or as much of the burden of the rescue operation you can pay.

I prefer this than to someone determining for me what qualifications I need to present to someone some I can paddle out into the water.


BTW, the "feds" are "them." They act on the majority voice of you, me and others. If I don't like what feds are doing, I make my stink to change that as the first priority. The feds are supposed to act on the majority opinion and benefit.

The power of fear…
You have a point. When I see the poor minority kids riding their bikes in my neighborhood, they don’t wear helmets and they weave about recklessly. The cops do absolutely nothing because it would be an exercise in futility.

Recreational kayakers are a good source of income to the state employees around here. The Rangers are always ticketing people for not having a pfd (never mind the swimmers nearby). We have to have a fishing license or parking permit to use some bodies of water.

Look, I work as a forensic accountant now. I absolutely love sniffing out fraud. We use fear as a big motivating factor in keeping people honest. They already know the difference between right and wrong.

Give a person a ticket for not having a pfd (it goes against your driver’s license here) and they will remember to have their pfd the next time. They will also tell their friends to wear their pfd or suffer the same consequences. Good old fear.

If it weren’t for fear of getting caught, more drivers would be breaking the speed limit and running stop signs.

“our growing numbers…
…are becoming a hassle.”

Yes, exactly. Definitely part of my point, but I guess not made to clearly? This was also my main point on the “buzzing” threads - and was not too well received.

As paddlers we need to be as responsible as possible - and understand what sort of impact we have.

Good memory
about the rescue thing. My thought from that come directly form rescue personnel in the CG and Navy. In their mind, that’s exactly what they are there for and are already paid.

I understand and emotionally support your idea that a reckless dumbass should not get a free ride - but in reality I think charging for rescues in all but the most ridiculous circumstances is not right (and if charged - do taxpayers get a refund?).

We can’t expect everyone to always have all the knowledge required to make the best decisions, and even those who make the attempt to be properly prepared can still have things go wrong.

Making some pay means someone deciding what is legitimate distress - and is just inviting a LOT more lawsuits. Do you really want that?

Not oblivious…
Article 15’s kept a lot of peace time soldiers in line.

For some, “the law” matters
For me not so much. I have never really been motivated by external factors, particularly not those that are all about conforming to some authority’s prescriptions on behavior.

For me there are two kinds of laws/regulations: Ones I would comply with if it existed or not and so is unneeded (or flat out doesn’t apply to me), and ones I find ways around so are useless (or simply cannot be obeyed).

I do not wear (or carry) my PFD or be mindful of other boat traffic to avoid tickets/fines/hassles. I do it because it may help me live longer and lets me enjoy the water more.

I manage to be very law abiding by simply acting in my own best interest. If truly in my interest, it will also be in the interest of others (like the healthy respect of motor boats - help both).

I understand others may be more in need of rules and enforcers of those rules. I also find that sad. Such is life.

Yes it’s sad…
I can always tell when there is a cop in the area when I’m going to work: Suddenly the BMW’s, Lexus’s and Porsche’s slow down and go the speed limit.

Multiple "Revenue Streams…"
Look, if the “quilty” pays to help defray all the extras that got pulled in to pay for his rescue, than the rest of us can play less, or pay the same to have more of something else.

Paying for quality (emphasis on “Quality”) public services is not a “rip off” in my opinion.


NH already did