maritime law/landing

Could anyone reference a link to the exact law which permits us to land anywhere below the tideline? Is this true in general or only for emergency repairs/adjustments? How about above the tideline for emergency repairs?

Yesterday, I almost got a summons on a public beach on Long Island Sound after my partner and I landed below the tideline to adjust our footpegs. It has been suggested that it might be good to carry a copy of the relevant law in the boat.

Maine Law
In Maine, the now infamous Moody Beach decision defined private property to the low tide line except for the traditional purposes of fishing, fowling, and navigation.


– Last Updated: Jul-21-06 9:12 AM EST –

If I carry a rod and a fishing license I'm okay to land then?...(Just being a smart ass....but ya know....maybe I'm right....).

I think it varies state to state. Michigan just passed legislation that states anyone can use the area below the tideline area anywhere on the Great Lakes surrounding the state.

In Maine, yes

– Last Updated: Jul-21-06 9:30 AM EST –

As bizarre as it sounds, it's true. BTW, there is no fishing license required for salt water. For that matter, having a compass and chart on your boat may be enough.

New York law may be entirely different.

tideline in the great lakes?
How are they defining a “tide” line on a lake? “unvegetated shoreline up to the high water mark” or some such?

Public beach?
I’m assuming that this was not the usual private property issue, since you say it was a public beach. Private property law varies from state to state as it relates to your “right” or non-right land on a private beach.

I’m guessing the issue at hand was that you were landing in a swimming area, and deemed a danger to swimmers? I would think in that case you might have to demonstrate your landing was an emergency.

perhaps a better idea

– Last Updated: Jul-21-06 3:45 PM EST –

Respect that they don't seem to want landings on the public beach (kayaks, jetski's whatever).

Just a guess (based on the need for both of you to adjust footpegs) but I'm thinking you may have started paddling fairly recently. If so, congratulations. But, I think we are all better off when our interactions with authority are more diplomatic and open minded and less rights-based.

my two cents are now spent

Sounds like you were in CT?
The Connecticut beach Nazis seem to think that beaches are for residents only. The law in CT says otherwise however.

Sorry, I don’t have a similar link for NY.

NY public trust

If a beach has a lifeguard on duty
USCG regs say you cannot land, or even come close. There are a few beaches here and there that allow it in practice.

I actually endorse this as many paddlers are not always in full control when landing, and I have seen folks “strutt” by turning way close to waders in very small waves.

I always thought I would

– Last Updated: Jul-23-06 9:10 PM EST –

bring a lawn chair on my back deck and set it up in a few inches of water just below the low tide zone (that's the law in Maine) and hang out there a while. If someone draws a line, I want to come right up against it; that's just how I am.

In a true emergency…
I believe you can land anywhere.

I don’t think adjusting foot pegs would qualify, seeing you got to where you were the way they were.

To win in court you had better be sinking, dying, or lost your steering.

Varies but

– Last Updated: Jul-24-06 8:18 AM EST –

sounds like it was about your landing in a public area reserved for a special use of some sort. Agree with the above posters. Was the summons almost given by something like a park ranger? The state can own rights to land under water.

(But that is pissy, regardless of whether they are right. I doubt anyone up this way would get a summons.)

By the way, the below the high tide line thing isn't universal, though in most states no private entity can own below that. In Maine and Massachusetts private ownership extends to the the low tide mark, and one other as I recall but I forget the name.

If you want to look up NYS laws, check out the site of the NYS Legislature and search for something like "tide line". I forget the URL, but you should be able to google the main NYS site with links to agencies and the legislature.

Ordinary High Water Mark defined
The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal of the Michigan Supreme Court’s recent decision declaring that the public has the right to walk the dry sand beaches of Michigan’s Great Lakes shores.

In Glass v Goeckel, 473 Mich 667 (2005), the Michigan Supreme Court held that regardless of title, under the common law “public trust doctrine” applicable to the Great Lakes, the public has the right to walk the Great Lakes shorelands up to the ordinary high water mark (“OHWM”). For those who are curious, the OHWM is defined as follows: “the point on the bank or shore up to which the presence and action of the water is so continuous as to leave a distinct mark either by erosion, destruction of terrestrial vegetation, or other easily recognized characteristic.”

In reaching its decision, the Michigan Supreme Court noted that historically, the state has served as “the trustee of public rights in the Great Lakes for fishing, hunting, and boating for commerce or pleasure.” The Court added walking on the beach to this list, concluding that “because walking along the lakeshore is inherent in the exercise of traditionally protected public rights of fishing, hunting, and navigation, our public trust doctrine permits pedestrian use of our Great Lakes, up to and including the land below the ordinary high water mark.”

I like Finland, Sweden, and Norway

– Last Updated: Jul-24-06 4:07 PM EST –

They seem to have it right!


All beaches public in Texas
up to vegetation line. That sucks that it is not the case everywhere.

I agree with that practice
Usually I take off and return to my own dock in the bay side, but when I want to paddle the gulf side, if there is any surf at all, make a point to make my landing away from swimmers, even if it then requires dragging my boat some distance back to my put in spot. This weekend it wasn’t an issue - the gulf was like a mill pond.

landing on beach
We landed in an area in which swimming was not permitted.

We are not new to paddling but we often let other people use our boats. Sometimes it’s difficult on land to guess where they should be (they don’t feel the same sitting in them for a few seconds on land is not the same as after paddling for forty minutes.)