ALERT: From July 1 2016, the 100 metre exemption no longer applies. You need to wear a life jacket at all times.
Do you know where you need to wear your PFD? Before you get booked by Maritime, make sure you check out the following article and brush up on your legal requirements.
[What follows is a commentary on the NSW PDF rules, and is not intended as legal advice. Do your own research!]
Generally speaking the rules for canoes and kayaks are dead simple
- Paddlers must wear an approved PFD “when greater than 100 metres from an accessible shore in sheltered waters, and at all times in ocean waters”
- Children under 12 years of age must wear a PFD at all times
There is an exception for surf skis, but it ONLY applies to Surf Life Saving Association surf skis, not ocean racing skis. Some paddlers have spoken to despite paddling SLSA skis.
So by now, you’re saying, “I knows all of that, what’s the big deal? We don’t paddle with anybody under twelve, and I never go out far enough to be more than 100 metres from shore. I’ll wear a PFD if I go to Bundeena”.
Well that’s what I thought too, until I checked the charts. Take a look at the two maps below. The red shaded areas are ALL more than 100 metres from the nearest shoreline.
So while you might think that you can just skirt around the edges of the shoreline, stop and consider, it’s a 10km paddle from Swallow Rock to the Bundeena Bar by the straightest, deep water route. It’s closer to 25km if you stay within 100m of the shoreline.
Next time you go out for a paddle, take a moment to plan your route and check whether the shortcut you take across the mouth of Jew Fish Bay to the Oatley Baths, or across Carina Bay on the way to Tom Uglies Bridge. If your course takes you across one of the red zones, either wear your PFD, or take your wallet along.
Remember folks, “I didn’t know” is not a defense. Paddle safe, set a good example to the public. Wear your PFD when you need to. Spread the word.