Byline: David Johnston
The article about the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s efforts to make sure stand-up paddleboarders educate themselves on required safety equipment and the Rules of the Road (“MdR Harbor Patrol Advises Paddleboarders to Stay Safe,” in the Aug. 30-Sept. 12 issue) brings up a growing problem.
Stand-up paddleboards, or SUPs, have become extraordinarily popular in local harbors — in the same way that personal watercraft did several years ago. And the problem we have now is the same: Untrained riders rent their ride for an afternoon, and they get virtually no instruction on how to use it.
As rental agencies did back in the boom days of PWCs, they send someone out in the middle of a busy harbor with no notion of who has the right of way, what port and starboard means, and why knowing who-goes-where is important. Is it any wonder that there are boat vs. SUP confrontations?
Some SUP riders seem to think it’s the “big, bad boaters” who are to blame. “Share the water” is the common cry we hear.
Well, I have no problem, as a boater, sharing the water with all kinds of craft — from SUPs and PWCs to dinghy-size sailboats. All I ask is that anyone operating floating craft in the harbor know the basic rules of boating.
Whether SUP riders know it or not, they are boaters, too — and it is their responsibility to be as considerate of others and as well informed about the Rules of the Road as operators of large powerboats.