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Stand-up paddleboards are the 'newest' watercraft

You may have seen people enjoying a new form of recreation on the Whitefish Chain and other area lakes the last few summers. As a DNR enforcement officer, I receive questions about this type of watercraft, including:

• Do those paddleboards need to be registered or licensed as a watercraft?

• Does the person (or people) on the paddleboard need a life jacket?

The answer to both is yes! And yes!

The 2013 Minnesota Boating Guide addresses these very questions. Stand-up paddleboards that are longer than 10 feet in length (most are) must be registered as a watercraft, display valid registration and carry (or wear) a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket for each person.

If the person on the paddleboard is under age 10, he/she must be wearing the PFD. If the person is older, the life jacket may be just “on the board” — but why not wear it?

As we tell all students in our boating safety classes, if you cannot remember anything else from class, remember these four words: WEAR YOUR LIFE JACKET!

Note: New on Jan. 1, 2013, non-motorized watercraft 10 feet in length or less are not required to be licensed or registered (previously it was non-motorized 9 feet or less).

(This column is published on behalf of the Whitefish Chain Yacht Club.)