Jump to content

New Silly Laws


Recommended Posts

I saw a post on the RICKA web site hinting that the brain trust at the MA legislature, while not busily trying to amend the constitution to steal civil rites from people, are considering a new "kayak safety" law that would require coastal kayakers to fly a stern flag at all times.

The following article was in this month's Canoe & Kayak magazine. Thought you might want to post it on the website as interest to all.

Massachusetts legislators are considering a bill that would require all sea kayaks to fly a stern flag to help prevent collisions with powerboats. Cosponsored by Rep. Brad Hill and Sen. Bruce Tarr, whose districts include coastal waters, House Bill No. 2126 originated at the Ipswich Police Dept. after the town harbormaster reported several "close calls" involving kayaks and powerboats in state waters.

"On windy days, when the swells are pretty high, a motorboat can't see kayaks, so they come up up over these waves and there have been some near misses," said Hill. "The Ipswich police suggested some regulations be put in place, including use of flags. They are responsible for the language in the bill."

The matter was referred to the Public Safety Committee after a public hearing last April, but no action on the bill is expected until July 2004.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just like the life jacket bill this is legislation instead of education.

It's bad for many reasons.

It will make it harder to roll, impossible in shallow water.

I don't want a stick on the back on my boat when I'm in surf, that's just dangerous.

It's dangerous if you capsize in close quarters, imagine a fiberglass flag poll snapping you on the arms or head.

Please everyone come up with some more reasons why this is harmful rather than helpful.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

>Please everyone come up with some more reasons why this is

>harmful rather than helpful.

How 'bout metal ones during flash lightning storms? Yee-hah!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a rather thick head, so I'm not quite as concerned about as about the eyes!

When two boats are in close proximity to one another, then anything mounted on the boat like that, in the manner in which the legislators obviously see it in their minds, will be a real danger, IMHO. The potential will be magnified when in surf (you're quite right, Michael) or when rescuing (for real OR for practice).

Stupid, stupid, stupid...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How 'bout a strong weather-cocking or lack of stability on those gusty days. I'm sure a nice 'sail' like that would be prone to tipping you at the right time, or more accurately the wrong time! Then there's the added challenge of righting yourself again. Ironic that the same thing that takes you down would be the same thing that keeps you down! Or trying to right someone else with their flag hitting your boat as they gasp for air.

I usually try to do the same thing as when I'm riding a road bike - pretend you're invisible and try to stay out of everyone's way. Just use your paddle as a "flag when needed" - and with a little reflective tape you should even be seen at dawn/dusk. We as paddlers should be very aware of our surroundings, although i'm sure we've all had a boat sneak up on us at one point or another! A little consciousness goes a long way!


Necky Looksha IV - orange

Dagger Id 6.9 - blue/black

"You are never alone in this Universe. The force that guides the stars, guides you as well."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How many powerboats in Massachusetts have hit kayaks anyway? Interpreting a nearby kayak as a ‘near collision’ is a subjective opinion in the mind of the startled power boater. It says more about the power boater’s lack of attention while navigating. While the boats may have been nearby there are apparently very few collisions, if any. The paddler is far more at risk of injury in these very uncommon situations than the power boater is.

Will boats manufactured before the law is passed be exempt? No kayaks currently have stern fittings that will allow the flagstaff to fall out when the boat is upside down. And how would the solo kayaker put it back in place when out on the water? Kayaks will need more skeg area exposed in high winds. Breaking waves will be more likely to roll a kayak with a mast-mounted flag. Anything that prevents, obstructs or restricts a kayak paddler’s ability to roll is a hazard.

If the kayak manufacturers thought putting a mast on their boats was a good idea, they would have done so a long time ago. The mast would be marketed and accepted as a safety feature much as lifelines and built in pumps are. But they know there would be no shortage of expert witnesses to testify against them in a wrongful death lawsuit. Is the Commonwealth willing to become complicit in such a claim by mandating unsafe modifications to kayaks?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What you need to do is show up at the legislative hearing for this bill in numbers and voice your experienced opinions!

We faced a similar situation here in CT last year, when the legislature thought that registration fees would magically make us safer (The year before, we were terrorists.....), so we created a bigger mail campaign than the Enron scandal generated, and also showed up & took over the public hearing.

Remind them that they are creating a hazard, and you will encourage anyone injured by it to sue the state for negligence. It's the only thing these people understand.........unfortunately.

"Only the state claims to have the ability to save you from yourself, and they will do so at a profit"


Link to comment
Share on other sites

How about making a law for us wear one of those fireman hats with the spinning light also?

This stuff really gets on my nerves - it's so absurb, if it weren't MA, I wouldn't even believe it.

Hey, so here's a question: If we paddled across state ocean boundaries, would we be able to take the flags off?

How do they suggest policing this proposed legislation to prevent DANGEROUS out-of-state paddlers "illegally" paddling into our commonwealth's ocean water flagless?


"Would a knife help protect you against a ‘curious’ shark? I don’t know but I would like the option." - Trevor Gardner

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"The matter was referred to the Public Safety Committee after a public hearing last April"

I wonder if any kayakers were in attendance at this public hearing last April? How would we even know about it without someone constantly monitoring the legislative agenda looking for this kind of garbage?

The Ipswich police are now in the boat design business? Give me a break!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just because a bill got filed does not mean it is going anywhere. When I was distributing the NSPN safety brochures last spring I had a long chat with the Gloucester Harbormaster and the kayak (lack of) visibility issue. He mentioned the flag on the stern notion. I explained why it would not work, for all the reasons people have mentioned. He understood.

Bruce Tarr (Republican - those are the ones that don't like government regulation, right?) is my State Senator. I'll have a chat with him about this.

When something horrible happens, as in Harwich, or someone gets scared, Ipswich, some people immediately think "there ought to be a law." So a rep gets contacted and, being responsive to constituents, they introduce a bill. Most never become law.

Liz N.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have seen a few flags on masts on kayaks up on Winnipesaukee. Mostly rec type boats. That lake is such a joke in the summer, the higher the horsepower the lower the IQ.

Self-government, self-disipline by ALL boaters = less state regulation

Link to comment
Share on other sites

kayak Flag Legislation

Dear Sir,

It is my understanding that you have sponsored a proposal - at the behest of the Ipswich Police Department - to require kayaks traveling in coastal waters to have an elevated flag on them to increase their visibility to other boaters. While this may seem logical, it does not not take into consideration the unique characteristics of kayaks and it would actually create greater dangers that it seeks to alleviate. It is important to understand that kayaks are not like other water craft; you cannot simply stick an appendage on one without affecting the performance and handling of the craft. Adding an elevated flag would have serious negative effects, such as:

- Reduced stability. Adding anything that creates wind resistance and leverage against the kayak will make it more likely to capsize in crosswinds.

- The extra wind resistance of a stern mounted flag will cause the kayak to turn into the wind, perhaps uncontrollably in high wind conditions. "Weathercocking" as it's called, severely compromises the kayaker's ability to navigate and control the kayak.

- Such a flag would make it difficult or even impossible to perform an "eskimo roll", which is a standard form of capsize recovery for kayakers. Without the ability to eskimo roll, the paddler would be forced to exit the boat in the event of a capsize. This creates a dangerous situation by exposing the kayaker to the risk of hypothermia (a leading killer of boaters in our cold waters) and forcing the kayaker to attempt a strenuous and potentially ineffective self-rescue.

- Anything sticking up on the deck of a kayak would interfere with standard self-rescue and assisted rescue techniques.

- Kayaks frequently launch and land through surf, where capsizes are common. If the flag staff were to break off, it would create a potential impalement hazard in surf.

The state will be liable in the event that this mandated 'safety device' causes or contributes to the injury or death of a kayaker.

Additionally, this will create an enormous enforcement burden, diverting resources from much more serious problems, such as apprehending intoxicated boaters and those who flagrantly violate marine regulations. How would enforcement agencies deal with kayakers who paddle into Massachusetts waters from New Hampshire or Rhode Island?

This proposal is actually circumventing the real issue, which in not the relative visibility of kayakers, but the inattention of other boaters. As a kayaker, I see this all the time. Boaters need to be aware that there are a variety of small craft on coastal waters and they need to be vigilant. Kayaks bear a responsibility, too. They must travel in a predictable manner and avoid confrontations with other boaters.

I understand and appreciate your concern for making kayaking and boating safer. However, sticking flags on kayaks is not the best way to do so. It would be far more effective to promote safety education than to try to legislate safety into the activity. I'm a member of a kayaking club that is very active in promoting safe kayaking. If you are interested in learning more or assisting us in this endeavor, please reply to this email.


Brian Nystrom


Feel free to use any or all of this in your responses.


Link to comment
Share on other sites


It only took me 2 minutes to send a copy of your great comment along with a comment of my own to my MA representatives. I hope many others will. I have found in the past that this type of issue will die quickly if those against it contract their representatives with sensible, serious, respectful arguments.

Thanks for dong the hard work.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

How aboout a law that requires motorboaters to look where they are going. I have seen lobster boatmen baiting while moving as well as other very scary stuff. Hal

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I too have sent a message to my representative with copies to the bill's drafters. However, I am concerned that our comments on this bill will get lost in the avalanche of correspondence that is descending upon the legislature in the wake of the Supreme Judicial Court's ruling last week on same-sex marriage. I heard on the news that some legislators had to shut down their e-mail servers because of the heavy volume.

Perhaps our Board can keep an eye on the kayak bill and let us know if and when it becomes active. Perhaps they could clue in the ACA. I believe they have an arm that gets involved in legislation.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are those that introduce such bills not seeing the root cause? Maybe those that are in control of larger, more powerful vessels:

1) Shouldn't consume intoxicating substances and control these vessels.

2) Simply pay attention to where they are going.

Maybe kayakers should simply stay out of the channels and away from high traffic areas and maybe be required to learn the rules of the road. It's working for cyclists.

Flags? Am I missing something?

NSPN, RICKA, CONNYAK, BSKC, and other large clubs have the combined resources to create and promote a solid educational program that should be required before a person takes to the waters in a kayak.

NSPN has produced a safety brochure for the masses, maybe it's time to unite the clubs in New England or even the country to form a stronger force against such thoughtless bills. The internet really does make the world a small place.

Where is the ACA in this fight? Aren't our dues supposed to work for us?


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's the reply that I received today:


Thank you for your input into this piece of legislation. You bring up

some very good points. These same points have been made to me and the

Committee over the past few months. We decided to put the bill into a

study which essentially would kill the bill. Again, thank you for your


Rep. Hill"

Reason wins out over knee-jerk reaction! Whodathunkit?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...