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  Washington Kayak Club
Fun and safe kayaking through trips, education, skill development, and conservation

General Announcements

Washington State Boater Laws (WACs and RCWs)
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Hi Ron, Thanks for your review and comment! I am not an attorney and do not imply to represent the law. I didn't dissect the language. I spent a month chasing down someone to help me with the question, as people in Port Angeles are apparently being stopped by the Sheriff in some cases. The WACs and RCWs I provided in this post were provided to me by State Parks. It is Parks who interpreted the laws and distributed the list of boater requirements to Sheriff Departments. Thanks again, Renee

Although it would make sense if that's what it means, it clearly doesn't. I attach

the regulation below. A kayak isn't long enough to be included in section 1, where a

whistle is required. Section 2 is vague, "with some other means of making an

efficient sound signal". Is your voice efficient? the reg doesn't give us a clue.


No person shall operate, or permit to be operated, a vessel on the waters of this

state without sound producing devices as follows:

(1) A vessel of twelve meters (39.4 feet) or more in length shall be provided with a whistle and a bell and a vessel of one hundred meters (328.1 feet) or more in length shall, in addition, be provided with a gong, the tone and sound of which cannot be confused with that of the bell. The whistle, bell and gong shall comply with Chapter 33, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 86. The bell or gong, or both, may be replaced by other equipment having the same respective sound characteristics, provided that manual sounding of the prescribed signals shall always be possible.

(2) A vessel of less than twelve meters (39.4 feet) in length shall not be obliged to carry the sound signaling appliances prescribed in subsection (1) of this section, but if she does not, she shall be provided with some other means of making an efficient sound signal.

The forum post has been edited to include PFD law RCW 79A.60.160.

Translation; attach a whistle to your PFD

Over one month ago, there was a Facebook post made by the Clallam County Sheriff Department (North Olympic Peninsula) on one of the Seattle kayaking sites. The post required all human propelled watercraft carry a sound producing device. When inquiring about this with the Sheriff, I was forwarded to Washington State Parks Dept. and eventually got answers from the Marine Law Enforcement Coordinator. Here’s the deal:


*PFD is required by WAC 352-60-030, RCW 79A.60.160

*Sound producing device is required by WAC 352-60-065


*A light, at minimum a flashlight, is required by WAC 352-60-060, between sunset and sunrise AND in restricted visibility.


*Fines are supposedly $126 or $133 around the state (but by law cannot be more than $500) per RCW 79A.60.110 and RCW 7.84.


State Parks says they don’t stop launches for being under equipped, however, local jurisdictions do have the authority to terminate a voyage, if adopted to do so by local ordinance.


These laws cover all human powered craft not limited to kayaks, standup paddle boards and sit-on-tops.


I don’t know what they are doing about surfer boarders. That was beyond the scope of my inquiry.


Happy Safe and Legal Paddling!

Renée Paradis

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