The Coast News Group

Harbor to set up rules for SUP’ers

OCEANSIDE — Oceanside Harbor does not allow human-powered watercrafts in its waters, but you would not guess that from looking around.

On any given day people on standup paddleboards, surfboards and other crafts tool around the harbor and frequently disregard the rules of the road. They often cross the paths of oncoming boats with little time for drivers to avoid hitting them.

“They’re there every single day,” Paul Lawrence, harbor manager, said. “We need to work to find a solution for the public to utilize them in a manner that’s safer for boaters who encounter them.”

“It’s quite frustrating, they don’t seem concerned with their own personal safety,” Lawrence added.

The exclusion of standup paddleboards and surfboards is currently enforced on a case-by-case basis with a reminder.

Harbor staff is looking to update the rules to allow operation of human-powered crafts with regard to everyone’s safety. To do so Lawrence requested input from the Harbor and Beaches Advisory Committee on Oct. 19.

Several committee members shared their concerns for safety.

“They’re running amuck,” committee member Carolyn Krammer said.

Committee member Les George said there is a need for clear rules and enforcement.

“You can’t write a ticket for someone who is putting their lives in jeopardy,” George said.

George recommended requiring an education program for everyone who takes a human-powered craft into the water. Committee members discussed having certified training as part of the equipment rental process.

Following the meeting Lawrence said the rental company within the harbor is supportive of requiring safety education.

Discussion also included which types of crafts could be safely allowed. Some said surfboards sit too low in the water for boaters to see.

Jim Jenkins, committee chair, said commissioners would send their suggestions to Lawrence by email.

Lawrence said harbor staff would also look into state parks laws. He added new rules would likely be in place before summer.

Carlsbad requires paddleboarders who use Agua Hedionda Lagoon to obtain city day use permits.

1 comment

Ralph Weller October 30, 2015 at 3:25 pm

It appears harbor bureaucrats are trying to dredge up a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. If human powered vessel owners take Coast Guard training they’ll know what rights they have while on the water. They generally have some rights because of their limited ability to maneuver quickly, with the exception of vessels that are further limited in their ability to maneuver like large vessels or vessels with a deep draft, in which case the human powered watercraft need to give way, or in non-Coast Guard terms, get out of the way. That will generally be the case in parts of the harbor, particularly in traffic lanes in and through the harbor.

Let’s not make up rules and regulations that are unique to Oceanside Harbor. Just enforce the current law. Post it at points throughout the harbor where people launch SUV, kayaks or canoes. It’s short enough to post the essence of Coast Guard right of way regs. If the person on the water doesn’t know about Coast Guard regs for navigating in inland waters, they’ll certainly know after they’re fined when they impede the movement of a larger vessel.

I presume the Harbor Master knows the “rules of the road,” so start enforcing the law and doling out fines when people create an unsafe situation. Everyone who goes on the water needs to understand what their obligation is, so pick up a copy of the latest version of CG-169. Or better yet go online to: and read up on it.

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