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Trailmix: PFDs required for SUPs

Astral’s V-Eight personal flotation device, priced at about $99, is ideal for paddling and sailing as it allows the wearer great freedom of movement.


Astral’s V-Eight personal flotation device, priced at about $99, is ideal for paddling and sailing as it allows the wearer great freedom of movement.


{outdoors-related bits and bites}

While paddling the Suwannee River last month on a stand-up paddleboard (SUP), a friend asked where was my personal flotation device (PFD).

"I didn't know I needed one," I responded.

And so began the great SUP-PFD debate. Should a SUP be treated like a surfboard, no PFD required? Or are the oversized paddleboards more like kayaks and canoes, a mode of transportation, and therefore subject to applicable U.S. Coast Guard regulations?

After much discussion, Michael Schenker, a paddling instructor at the Bill Jackson Shop for Adventure, put the question to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

"Stand-up paddleboards are classified by the U.S. Coast Guard as a vessel," wrote Brian Rehwinkel, the FWC's boating and safety awareness coordinator. "The only exception would be if these paddleboards were used in a swimming, surfing or bathing area."

As a result, basic boating safety equipment requirements apply, which means one USCG-approved life jacket "onboard" for each passenger on the SUP. In Florida waters, any child under 6 years of age would have to wear a life jacket while the vessel is under way.

Lisa Novak, a public affairs officer for the USCG in Washington, D.C., concurred: "The Coast Guard has determined that beyond the narrow limits of a swimming, surfing or bathing area, a paddleboard is a vessel, and therefore subject to applicable regulations."

Terry Tomalin, Times Outdoors Editor

Outdoors poll

Question: In December 2009 we posed the question: If Florida's gulf coastline is opened to oil drilling, what will you do? The answers then:

Celebrate, I'm all for it:


Call the movers, I'm out of here


Nothing, it won't change a thing


Well, in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon spill, what say you now?

Vote at

Bass angler banned for life

California pro bass angler Mike Hart was suspended for life from all Western Outdoor News tournaments for putting weights inside his fish at the circuit's U.S. Open weigh-in last month at Lake Mead, Nev. Hart brought three dead bass to the scales on Day 2. Per event policy, dead fish are filleted and donated to charity. That's when 2-ounce torpedo weights turned up in the bellies of a few fish, though at the time organizers did not know which angler each fish was linked to. On Day 3, tournament directors said they felt something unusual inside Hart's catches. They were inspected by Nevada Fish and Wildlife officials and lead weights were found in all of the fish Hart presented. Tournament officials said they would press charges.

Gear check

Going diving during the Aug. 6 to March 31 spiny lobster season? Regulations require divers and snorkelers to display a "divers-down" flag while in the water. Divers-down flags displayed on vessels must be at least 20 inches by 24 inches, and a stiffener is required to keep the flag unfurled. Dive flags carried on floats must be at least 12 inches by 12 inches.

Video of the month

Last month, Ray Cason of Georgia went fishing and motored into narrow stretch of water in the Okefenokee Swamp filled with hundreds of alligators. See his video at

Drink it up in the heat

We love the outdoors, even when it's hot. But dehydration is usually the culprit for most heat-related illnesses. When fluids leave the body in large amounts, it forces the heart to work harder to maintain the physical output. So always drink plenty of fluids before, during and after your activity. Universally, our activity guides below recommend drinking water in large amounts the day before your venture. Here are some guidelines for how much to bring along for the "during" part:

Cycling: Consume about 6 to 8 ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes via bottle or hydration pack.

Hiking: It takes 16 ounces of water to replace every pound you sweat off.

Paddleboarding: Brody Welte, who runs Kahuna Kai Paddle and Beach Shop on Madeira Beach and leads paddle fitness classes, recommends wearing a hands-free hydration pack with at least 1 liter of water, or an electrolyte/water mix, for workouts or trips lasting longer than 30 minutes. Even on shorter jaunts, Welte says, "Since we live in Florida, it is always a good idea to keep water with you at all times." He recommends a 20-ounce bottle of water if you don't have a hydration pack.

Kayak fishing: Guide Neil Taylor takes along enough water to last three people for about three days. "I encounter people out there who aren't adequately prepared," he says. Taylor also recommends the hydration backpacks. "That eliminates the out-of-sight, out-of-mind thing where people don't drink enough out there. It's on you. You will drink it."

Fishing: Guide Rick Frazier steers clients away from sodas, beer and the like during the summer. "They'll dehydrate you quickly," he says. He brings aboard a gallon of water per person for a four-hour summer charter. In the winter, he scales back to about 1 quart per person.

Rich Kenda, Times staff writer

Trailmix: PFDs required for SUPs 08/05/10 [Last modified: Thursday, August 5, 2010 11:25pm]
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