May 23, 2012 10:18 PM by Nikki Ibarra, KSBY News

Paddleboarding rules enforced just in time for Memorial Day Weekend

Paddleboarding is becoming more popular locally, and the Harbor Patrol and Coast Guard are stepping up enforcement of some little-known rules ahead of Memorial Day Weekend.

A state law signed in 2008 said anyone under the age of 12 has to wear a life vest while stand-up paddleboarding. For anyone older than 12, you don't have to wear one, but you do need to have one on the board.

The Port San Luis Harbor Patrol said there are two reasons why they're enforcing it: the cold water and the wind.

Vince Shay hits the waters almost every day. He's owner of SLO Coast Kayaks in Port San Luis. On Wednesday, because of the early afternoon winds, no one rented paddleboards.

"You're kind of like a human sail when you're on the paddleboard. Much more then when you're on a kayak and they get blown off shore and without a leash or a PFD, if they fall off the craft because the wind is gonna pick up the stand-up paddleboard and make it move quicker then they are probably going to be able to swim it," said Shay.

He said he rarely sees people with life vests on the boards. "It's getting more popular. People love doing it. But you need to think about the safety issues and the worst case scenarios," Shay added.

On Wednesday morning, he saw two teens paddleboarding without a life vest on the board. He said this weekend, he expects a lot of business, but he'll make sure everyone is following the rules.

"It's not only telling them we're going to be practicing it from now on because we want to set an example for everyone. Not only here in Avila Beach but on the Central Coast," he said.

Lately, the Harbor Patrol has been seeing more and more paddleboarders drift a mile off shore. "As you can see right now we have 25 to 35 mile winds right now. And it's just extremely difficult to sustain paddling against that kind of wind," said John Lowry of the Port San Luis Harbor Patrol.

The ticket price for not wearing, or having a life vest on board, depending on age, is $200.


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