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Kayak Bill

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It is coming to the end of the legislative session and the Massachusetts House and Senate are negotiating a new version of the Kayak (and Canoe) bill. It is tough to tell what is going on but the last I heard the bill would mandate both canoe & kayak paddlers to wear lifejackets year round with no exemption for racing & training. The bill also excludes the use of type V pfds which includes inflatables and pullover lifejackets.

The Senate is also pushing for a requirement that anyone who teaches kayaking to teach all paddlers to do a wet exit at the beginning of any kayak class even if they are not using a sprayskirt or a recreational kayak with a large cockpit opening. This will end up being disincentive for people to get instruction.

Here is a link to a story in the Patriot Ledger. The reporter is confused on a number of topics bit is correct that things are moving.


Here is link to the House version


This is a link to the Senate version


If you don't like what you see now is the time to send an e-mail to you State Rep and State Senator and explain the problems with the bill. After you send the e-mail follow it up with a call. Calls an e-mail really do make a difference. Most State Reps and Senators do not know about this bill or have forgotten the details since the last time you called them.

Mark J

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Here is a copy of the bill that passed today and is now waiting for the Governor to sign to become law.


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court

assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

SECTION 1. Section 1 of Chapter 90B of the General laws, as appearing in the

2008 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting the following definitions: -

“Canoeâ€, a narrow, light boat with its sides meeting in a point at each end and is

moved by one or more paddles

“Kayakâ€, a lightweight boat that is covered, except for a single or double opening

in the center thereof, and is propelled by a paddle.

SECTION 2. Said Chapter 90B is hereby further amended by inserting after

section 13A the following section:-

SECTION13b. Anyone who holds himself out as a kayak instructor for hire shall

obtain and maintain:

(i) First aid training approved by the department of public health;

(ii) Cardiopulmonary resuscitation training approved by the department of public

health; and

(iii) Kayak instructor certification from the American Canoe Association,

American Red Cross certification in small craft safety and basic water rescue, or

equivalent water training.

The instructor shall train students on the safety procedures appropriate to the level

of paddling difficulty. Wet exit training, which is defined as the practice of

escaping from a kayak while capsized in a controlled water setting, shall be

required of all beginners and novice level operators who use an attached “spray

skirt†during any part of the kayak instructional session.

A liability release that limits an instructor’s responsibility to comply with this

section shall be void.

SECTION 3. Chapter 90B of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2008 official

edition, is hereby amended by inserting after section 5B the following new


Section 5C. Every person aboard a canoe or kayak, as defined in this chapter, shall

wear at all times a coast guard approved personal floatation device of type I, II, III

or V in good and serviceable condition.

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“Kayakâ€, a lightweight boat that is covered, except for a single or double opening

in the center thereof, and is propelled by a paddle.


It sounds like the following would be excluded:

- Any kayak with two or more hatches, since it will have three or more "openings"

- Older Brit' boats, as they're anything but "lightweight"

- Anything built by NDK, since they all weight a ton

- My old fiberglass BBK Recluse, which at something over 65# weighed more than any other single kayak I've ever seen. ;)

On balance, the final bill seems pretty innocuous compared to the garbage that was originally proposed. Apparently, at least a few people on Beacon Hill got the message that kayakers and canoeists were sending, and exercised something rarely seen from those hallowed halls, common sense.

Now, if they would extend the PFD provision to all open boats say, under 50', they might really save some lives.

Did anyone else notice that they misspelled "flotation"? Maybe some of them did go to public schools after all. :P

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You are right. They did make the change to accept type 5 PFDs.



Just a clarification before we start communicating with our legislators:

The text you copied appears to include Type V PFDs, contrary to your first message saying they are excluded.

Am I missing something?


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