U.S. & Canadian Coast Guard Required Safety Equipment

This list does not include requirements that pertain to power boats:

U.S. Coast Guard Requirements

Required safety equipment on nonmotorized boats under 26 feet long:
Personal Flotation Device
One type of Coast Guard approved life jacket must be on board for each person on the boat. Also must have one Type V, throwable type of PFD.

Visual Distress Signal
One orange distress flag and one electric distress light, or three hand-held or floating orange smoke signals and one electric distress light, or three combination (day/night) red flares: hand-held, meteor or parachute type.

Sound Producing Device
A sufficient way to make a sound signal, like a whistle or an air horn, but not a human produced noise.

Navigation Lights
Required to be displayed sunset to sunrise.
The rules also require a fire extinguisher if flammable or combustible liquids are stored on board; I doubt any kayakers or canoers have been ticketed for having a camp stove but no extinguisher.

Canadian Coast Requirements

For human powered craft (canoes, kayaks, rowboats, racing sculls, etc.):
Personal Lifesaving Appliances 
1. One (1) Canadian-approved personal flotation device or lifejacket of appropriate size for each person on board
Note: A personal flotation device or lifejacket carried on board a human-powered pleasure craft operated in whitewater must be inherently buoyant.
2. One (1) buoyant heaving line at least 15 m (49’3”) long
3. One (1) reboarding device

Note: A reboarding device is only required if the vertical height that must be climbed to reboard the pleasure craft from the water is over 0.5 m (1’8”). 
Visual Signals
Only required if the pleasure craft is over 6 m

4. One (1) watertight flashlight

5. Six (6) Canadian-approved flares of Type A (Rocket Parachute), B (Multi-Star) or C (Hand)
Note: Flares are not required for a pleasure craft that:
  • is operating on a river, canal or lake in which it can never be more than one (1) nautical mile (1.852 km) from shore; or
  • has no sleeping quarters and is engaged in an official competition or in final preparation for an official competition.
Vessel Safety Equipment
6. One (1) bailer or manual bilge pump
Bilge-pumping arrangements
Note: A bailer or manual bilge pump is not required for a pleasure craft that cannot hold enough water to make it capsize or a pleasure craft that has watertight compartments that are sealed and not readily accessible.
Navigation equipment
7. One (1) sound-signalling appliance that meets the applicable standards set out in the Collision Regulations 
A sound-signalling device
8. Navigation lights that meet the requirements set out in the Collision Regulations
  1. Navigation lights are only required if the pleasure craft is operated after sunset, before sunrise, or in periods of restricted visibility (fog, falling snow, etc.).
  2. For a human-powered vessel, this requirement can be met with a watertight flashlight
    You can learn more about the requirements for your pleasure craft by consulting the navigation lights section of the Safe Boating Guide
9. One (1) magnetic compass
Note: A magnetic compass is not required if the pleasure craft is 8 m (26’3”) or less and is operated within sight of seamarks (navigation marks).
10. One (1) radar reflector is required under certain conditions

New to Kayaking?

Don't know how to get started? Which boat to buy? How to learn without embarrassment? What if it tips over? Do I have to roll the kayak?

We were all beginners once and we'd be happy to help you with the basics. Before you even buy a boat, why not stop in at our monthly meeting (see the Paddlers Calendar) for some friendly advice from experienced paddlers. Whether you're interested in calm afternoons on one of Michigan's beautiful lakes and rivers or two weeks in the wilderness, we can help - we've been there.

To ask any questions or to contact the group for any reason, please send an e-mail to Eastcoastpaddlers@gmail.com