Life Jacket Wear Law NYS

Life Jacket Wear Requirements

Beginning November 1, 2009, Section 40, Subdivision 1 of the Navigation Law shall be amended by adding new paragraph (e), which reads as follows:

No owner or operator of a pleasure vessel less than twenty-one feet, including rowboats, canoes, and kayaks shall permit its operation, between November first and May first, unless each person on board such vessel is wearing a securely fastened United States Coast Guard approved wearable personal flotation device of an appropriate size when such vessel is underway.

Failure to wear a lifejacket on such vessels will be considered a violation under Section 73-c if the Navigation Law and is punishable by a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $250, applicable to either the operator and/or the owner of the vessel.

By the way this law was enacted purly on financial considerations to keep the costs of recovery down. No divers, no on scene for a couple of days ect. Hypothermia it is figured will kill you anyway. At least your body will remain on top of the water where visible, allowing for a quick recovery.

If I have this right
All this changes is that the seat cushions that currently pass in smaller boats have to be replaced by a PFD that is clipped/zippered onto the body. And does anyone think those seat cushions would ever help a weak or non-swimmer anyway?

Hypothermia won’t kill me since I
wear a drysuit and PFD from Nov to May.

…But one more ounce of needless OVER-REGULATION

IN NEW YORK might force me to join so many others who’ve left to live in another state.

Wearing a drysuit
won’t keep hypothermia from killing you, it’l just take longer.

Ignored in MA

We have a cold water pfd law here in MA from 15 Sept to 15 May. I would say about 75% of people I pass on the water during my fall and spring paddles are not wearing pfds.


– Last Updated: Aug-23-09 6:45 PM EST –

I would just put a 2'3" paper mache point on the front of my CD Extreme, which would put me 1" over the limit.

USCG requires wearable PFDs
Those seat cushions don’t pass USCG requirements that vessels carry a wearable PFD for every person - type I, II, or III (or Type V but only if actually worn). Those cushions are type IV “throwables”, and are required by the USCG on all boats above 16 feet, except canoes and kayaks. They don’t satisfy the wearable PFD requirement.

Maybe state boating laws on inland water allowed those cushions to pass for PFDs. I don’t know about that.

I agree that wearing the PFD is perhaps too much regulation. Rowing a dinghy out to a mooring in late fall, I would do just as I normally do - make sure there are a couple PFDs bungied to the bottom of the seat in case they are needed, or in case I get boarded for a “courtesy” inspection.

Yeah, cushions for motor craft

– Last Updated: Aug-23-09 7:30 PM EST –

Inland in NY state you have to have a flotation device of some kind for each person in any motor craft, regardless of length. The seat cushions met the requirements. At least, that was the case when I took the junior safe boating class in my teens.

At that point and until ridiculously recently, anyone under 18 had to pass a boating safety course to operate a motorized boat. But at 18, you were free to run into buoys and channel markers because you didn't know any better on your own recognizance.

I don't recall what the scoop was for paddle craft. I had the habit of wearing a PFD when available or at least grabbing a cushion whenever I was in a boat anyway, so I wouldn't have been aware of any lesser options. By the time I had a few summers of a week on the Jersey shore and some basic lifesaving work thru the GScouts, I had plenty of examples of people who were quite competent swimmers still getting into a spot where they needed extra help.

I also remember an occasional time of convincing my father to take me out fishing in a small rowboat with a putt-putt motor in protected ocean waters around Sandy Hook (NJ), and it seems to me that he allowed a seat cushion as meeting requirements. But that was over 44 years ago, so things may have tightened up.

As to why to do this... it's not always due to the law. When I take a Swifty over to the mussel beds where we rent in Maine (ain't gonna take a nice boat into that mud) I still put on one of the cheapo PFD's left on the dock. Not because I expect to drown in 2 to 3 ft of water, but because the smaller kids will try to skip the requirement if they see me doing it.

Pfd law
I agree, New York state, too many laws. This is a no brainer around here in cold weather.

As a tax paying New Yorker and responsible kayaker I think I like it. People say they want less government regulations impeading thier freedom. However when some bonehead decides to go out without a pfd and gets into some trouble; it is my tax dollar that has to pay for to recover the morons corpse. Or, lets say he inhales a lot of water from cold shock and has trouble keeping himself afloat and winds up with brain damage - he ends up a burden of the state. To oppose or complain about this law is pretty ignorant and naive.

We better tell Jack.

Well let’s put it this way:
Hypothermia hasn’t killed me YET,

and I do my darnest with good safety

skills…Roll, swim, etc. And by

carefully limiting the duration of

time spent in frigid water.

–I also don’t make it my business

to make assumptions about other padlers

skills or knowledge, with moot replies

like yours.

What about having your tax dollars go

– Last Updated: Aug-24-09 10:35 AM EST –

toward a public relations-service announcement campaign to better educate "boneheads" in the
first place, before just coming up with another
way to impose fines? Would you be for this too?
More "Good Laws" are not what's needed, but better personal responsibility. Where do you draw the line? There has always been
"boneheads" and there always will be...The first settlers of both this state and the country (as well as most intelligent people today)don't enter cold water without some proper precaution/protection...More fines, levies and taxes without education only further corrupts the most corrupted state political government in the already highest-taxed state in the nation. Who wants more cops, inspectors, auditors with expanded power and money constantly breathing down their necks everytime you turn around? Small paddlecraft is recreation, ferchisakes. Make "boneheaded" individuals PERSONALLY ACCOUNTABLE for their stupid indescretions by having THEM pay for any necessary rescues. Leave the rest of us alone...There's more than enough sensible navigational safety laws on the books already.

Ooh, now you did it
PFD’s and seat belts (in cars) - no changing minds on either, at least in a forum like this. Bad accidents felt personally seem to be the only thing that ever does that.

If bad accidents were the sole criteria
no one would ever leave their house,

drive a car, or do any number of other

activities considered “high risk”.

On the verge of…
A move of this one to B&B. At least when my post saying it’s a futile discussion can cause proof of same within minutes.

Cold water PFD law in MA?
Isn’t the water pretty darned cold up there all year long?

I really don’t understand the purpose of these laws that require you to wear a PFD in the winter, but not the summer - most of our boating-related drownings down here in Texas take place in the summer, and that’s when the water is downright HOT. As to whether boating drownings are higher in ratio to the number of people boating during the winter, I don’t know about that, but my gut says no - the winter boaters here are generally better, more responsible boaters than the ones who just boat during the summer.

Don’t get me wrong, I wear my PFD religiously, about the only time I might not wear one is when I am paddling in some of the 2-3 foot deep sheltered coves right around my house, but in general I am opposed to mandatory PFD wearing laws. However, if you are going to have one, why make it just for the winter?

Probably why I don’t frequent the B&B

all that much meself.

or develop air bags
or seat belts

No problemo
The seat belt thing has similar responses to legislating (and this I agree on) common sense. The diff is in whether it causes enough risk that someone needs to legislate it - many opinions there.

At the time the seat belt law was being considered, some dunderhead in the legislative offices released the wrong call in number for people to register their opinions via phone. They put out the main number to the state office in which I worked.

It took us into the third day to get them to get out enough retractions to pretty much stop the calls. In the meantime, it was the main number so someone had to answer it.

I believe there was discussion of giving the secretary combat pay.