Free Online Paddling Course
Oregon State Marine Board offers a great introduction to the waterwa
a free online paddling course that's approved by the state and recognized by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA).
The Basic Paddling Course, offered through
BoaterExam.com, covers state boating laws, rules of the road, how to read the
waterway, what to do in case of an emergency, and other tips to enhance boater’s
knowledge base and operating skills.
We’re so fortunate to have great public
access to rivers, lakes, bays and the ocean in Oregon to play in. Learning how
to paddle is a great way to get your feet wet in recreational boating, and by
starting off with basic boating knowledge will make your experience more
enjoyable and safer.
Prepare for your adventure by doing the following:
1. Always wear a properly
fitting life jacket and know how to swim in a river current.
2. Never paddle
alone. Bring along at least one other boater. When paddling, two boats with
two operators each, are recommended. Three boats with two paddlers each are
even better. If unfamiliar with the waterway, paddle with someone
3. Never overload the boat. Tie down gear and distribute
4. Maintain a low center of gravity and three points of
contact. Keep your weight balanced over the center of the boat.
- Standing up or moving around in a small boat can cause it to capsize –a
leading cause of fatalities among paddlers.
- Leaning a shoulder over the edge of the boat can also destabilize it enough
5. Stay alert at all times and be aware of your
surroundings, including nearby powerboats. Be prepared to react when dangerous
6. Practice re-boarding your boat in the water with
the help of a companion.
7. Dress properly for the water temperature and type of
8. Check your boat for leaks.
9. Map a general route and
timetable when embarking on a long trip. Arrange for your vehicles to be
shuttled to the takeout.
10. Know the weather conditions before you head
out. While paddling, watch the weather and stay close to shore. Head for shore
if the waves increase.
What Paddlers Need to Know When Sharing the Waterways
SEE AND BE SEEN:
- Waterways have "lanes of travel" similar to a highway system. Know the area
you plan to paddle. If you are near commercial waterways, the navigation charts
change often and you need a current set.
- The depth of the channel may limit deep-draft vessels. You, however, are
mobile and agile. Make use of your ability to move out of the way. If you are
not crossing the channel, stay close to shore. Large stationary objects offer a
margin of protection.
- At night, a white light must be shown toward oncoming traffic. Bright
colors not only help keep track of fellow paddlers, but make you far easier to
see if separated from your boat.
- If motorized boats are nearby, you are far less likely to capsize if you
turn your bow into the wave and don't take the wake broadside.
- Wear bright, noticeable clothing.
- Use reflective tape on your paddle blades.
- Keep your whistle handy.
- Any boat less than 20 meters should not impede the passage of a larger
ship, whether under power or not.
- Monitor channels 13 & 16 on your VHF radio.
- At night and during restricted visibility, a white light must be shown
toward on-coming traffic.
- Green lights or buoys indicate the starboard (right side)
and red lights or buoys indicate port (left side). When
returning or heading upstream, red lights or buoys should be on your starboard
(right) side. Remember, "Red, Right, Returning." The markers
are primarily for larger boats so if you stay between the light orbuoy and the shore, you are out of the way of any larger, faster