Paddling "license"

At my local paddling Club there are rumors of introducing a “paddling license”.

I have paddled for a few years now and I understand that safety on water is paramount however the need to have a paddler “licensed” to be able to go and paddle is beyond me.

Do you believe that a license would be a good thing?

For a full story and the paddling environment conditions where such “license” is sought:

Paddle free or die!
I don’t need a license to paddle. I’m very unlikely to injure anyone else while I paddle which is not the same if I operate a plane or a car unsafely.

So let me decide what skills I’ll learn and where I’ll use them. I see a lot of dumb things said here because people don’t realize that most folks are using their kayaks in flatwater and don’t need ocean skills.

I think clubs and instructors are great and will join them and use them both, but I also think I don;t want someone telling me where I can paddle and what certifications I’ll need to do it.

Let’s get some baseball bats and

– Last Updated: Sep-22-09 11:38 PM EST –

beat this horse for a while.

A license? I guess I am not surprised.

Paddling in a club or loosely organized group has advantages. Often you will find a broad spectrum of skill levels and interest providing opportunity to learn and learn still more while teaching. Weekend outings are the main reason I am part of a club because I tend to be a social paddler rather than a lone wolf and prefer a variety of faces to go along with new places.

Then you have the dark side where liability issues come into play and the fun part sometimes get lost in the mix. Do we incorporate? Non-profit? Get insurance? Sign waivers? Join ACA? Am I an organizer, a leader, coordinator, or a mother hen? Rules about PFD's - lights, whistles, proper gear, proper clothing...Do I know the skill level of all on a trip? Common Adventure Model?

There always seems to be more questions than answers and for some reason not a lawyer in the bunch.

Is there a model out there? Perhaps a club or group with a tried and true answer or even close? This inquiring mind wants to know, no, needs to know.

Any nominations for the best run club(s) on the fun and dark side:

BTW...Frank, your son says he misses your cooking

What a joke !
Find a paddling bud and tell the club where to shove it.

Unless you like being one of the sheep



Take it seriously

– Last Updated: Sep-23-09 6:03 AM EST –

Such a thing was proposed here in CT in 2003 by a large association of powerboaters in order to get a state money grab. They had 2 legislators in their back pocket, and it nearly became a bill. They were intending on piggybacking it on a canoe/kayak/rowboat registration bill that was already in committee (It died as well)

Had it not been for an organized and LOUD response from paddlers, it might have become a reality. A club doing such a thing is just the first step -- then they become advocates for the state's efforts.

The thing legislators need to be reminded of is that they would have to raise taxes in order to enforce such a law, because they would need to hire a lot more marine officers to do it.

…over here in Europe:

I’d rather quit paddling before getting a paddle pass. What’s next? A swimming license for the beach?

Take it seriously II
There was a legislative proposal last year in Maine to require everyone who paddles to have a nineteen dollar a year license.

It died in committee.

Like all things political it will undoubtedly rear its ugly head again.

What’s the surprise???
Clubs often go that way. Funny, my wife is part of a kids “play group” organization designed to get the kids together and provide educational and fun opportunities.

Here’s the reality: It’s a bunch of frustrated mom’s and a few metro sexual dads who meet to discuss and plan whilst the kids are with a baby sitter!! Aint about the young ones at all.

Some clubs seem cool but to me they are back eddies of wanna-be’s who need some sense of importance. Officers, minutes and all that bullshit. For me they are dumb. Find friends and paddle.

Paddle Free or Die
Paddle Free & Die. Word it however you prefer. I still remember a quote from Benjamin Franklin from my school days (though I’m sure this isn’t exact): “Those who would give up freedom for a little temporary safety deserve neither freedom nor safety.” I imagine that attitude was much more commonly shared during revolutionary times.

I can’t even agree with this:

“Easier paddles will require low skills levels while only demanding paddles (in surf conditions) would require the paddler being formally certified to be able to participate.”

I would say “demanding paddles would require the paddler…”, but I would never fill it in with “formally certified”. Admittedly, I have no formal training or certifications, and somehow became leery of being indoctrinated for fear of restricting my natural discovery process, a feeling that seems to have held as I’ve gained experience and been able to look back on it to contemplate how things could have been learned differently. But I do understand that everyone learns their own way to some extent, and it’s obvious to me that “a qualified instructor” or “certified” takes on much greater meaning to many. And indeed, I understand it represents a system that allows a novice to get some idea that a person has at least spent some minimal amount of time learning a defined set of skills. I’ve also no doubt that there are instructors out there that could teach me some things. But when it comes down to whom I would want to be paddling with in challenging conditions, I’m more interested in your tried and true skills and physical capabilities than what you pulled off in a class and had an instructor sign off on.

I actually encourage anyone who asks me about it to take classes and seek out formal instruction if they’re interested. I also have some awareness of it’s limitations, so I equally encourage other ways and additional ways of learning. I guess it bothers me to imagine actual abilities being judged strictly based upon formal systems designed with a monetary beneficiary.

ustj to make sure I am clear…
Just to make sure I am clear - this is a club thinking of a license for their membership? Not a state or region thinking of a license to paddle in that territory?

The need to control others and for the
"expert" to insert their primacy into all things is not unusual. In fact, most activities have these people.


They want to assess your carbon
output, they could care less how you paddle, it’s all about the carbon.


Then we’ll have two groups out there: The “experts” and the “outlaws.”


the antisocial paddler.


– Last Updated: Sep-23-09 12:08 PM EST –

Heck, in the US you can legally fly an ultralight aircraft/hang-glider/paraglider with no license.

"Notwithstanding any other section pertaining to airman certification, operators of ultralight vehicles are not required to meet any aeronautical knowledge, age, or experience requirements to operate those vehicles or to have airman or medical certificates."

A legal ultralight has only one seat -- the idea is that you're free to endanger yourself, and the light weight and low speeds mean that the risk to anyone on the ground is minimal.

The industry has done a pretty good job policing itself since the craziness of the first few years. Reputable dealers won't sell to folks who haven't had instruction.

more BigBrother control
No, it would be more Big Brother controlled mandate.

Anyone who doesn’t take responsibility for their safety through improving their skills deserves what they get.


Me too
I had to read it twice too. A club proposing a license? Idiots!

I was along with Wayne Smith (above) fighting the proposed small boat license in CT. It has nothing to do with safety or anything like that. All it is is control and money.

“We don’t need no stinkin’ license”!

“We don’t need no stinkin’ numbers on our canoes”!

“We don’t need to pay any more money for anything; we already pay too much”!

What we need is fewer people in government, and for those in governmnet to stop thinking of new ways to waste money"!


like the shirt says

Gnarlydog,reading your blog, it sounds like your sea kayaking community is very similar to our WW group. Especially this year, it seemed like a lot of new paddlers joined in, I took some under my wing, more to show them local spots to play as they’re yakkers and I canoe mostly, but also pointed out a few areas where they could strengthen their skills in paddling and river reading (the dreaded “squirreley line” ;-)). Next thing I know, a local class 5 yakker who I paddle with on occasion, shows up to help with rolling and double blade technique. It was awesome watching these guys progress this year. Some went and got hurt, biting off more than they could chew, but stitches and bruises healed and skills and enthusiasm continue to grow. It’s going to be a good year for drysuit sales around here I’m guessing.

No licensing, no paid instruction, just friends helping friends, the way I like it and you do too.

John Denver

He was flying an experimental that he didn’t build, not an ultralight. He was a licensed pilot.