Is a Boat on Your Gift List?

Posted on December 17, 2023

When you hear people talking about a boat, what may come to mind is a yacht, powerboat, or sailboat gliding through a waterway. But did you also know that a kayak, canoe, raft, drift boat, hydrofoil, and stand up paddleboards (SUPs) and any combination thereof are also defined as boats?

Purchasing paddlecraft is easy since many retail stores are selling them. Not only are they a great way to connect with the outdoors, stay fit, and give the mood a lift, but these types of boats also allow for a variety of different activities to try (Stand Up Paddle Yoga, anyone?). If you take the plunge and purchase a boat (including Stand Up Paddleboards) for a friend or loved one, remember there’s more to boating than just the boat.

Boats come in all shapes and sizes and have associated required equipment for your safety out on the water. Paddlers need to have on board a properly fitting US Coast Guard-approved life jacket and a whistle, but it’s more practical to just wear them. If paddling at night or during periods of reduced visibility, then paddlers also need to display a white light source, like a flashlight. The other requirement that applies to craft 10’ or longer, is a Waterway Access Permit. Also, paddlers need to present their permits (print or digital) if stopped by marine law enforcement.

So, what does it cost for the additional required equipment? That depends. A comfortable, inherently buoyant vest-style life jacket can range in price with inflatable belt packs being on the higher end. A whistle costs a few dollars. The light source also varies depending on the model and brand. Waterway Access Permit options cost $5 for a 7-day permit, $17 for an annual permit, and $30 for a 2-year permit.

Then there’s the gear needed for the activity! Kayak and SUP fishing are booming, as is kayak sailing. Just remember, you’re a boater first. But take the time to plan ahead, learn the skills you’ll need for the type of waterway where you plan to boat, and always communicate or write down a float plan with family and loved ones. Education, planning, and preparation go a long way to you having a fun and enjoyable experience.

The Marine Board also offers FREE online paddling courses to help newcomers learn the basic skills and techniques to stay safe. Want to learn how to get started? Visit and let your water recreation adventures begin!


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