Modified: June 22, 2016 1:55pm
Buffalo, NY – Erie County Sheriff Timothy B. Howard reports the Marine Unit issued twenty-two separate warnings to kayakers and other paddle craft operators on the Buffalo River near Canalside Tuesday night.
While patrolling the Buffalo River the Erie County Sheriff’s Office Marine unit observed dozens of kayaks and small paddle craft on the waterway without proper operational lights. The unit made contact with the vessels and warned the operator they didn’t have the proper lighting and cited the New York State Navigational laws requiring lights at night for paddle craft.
The Erie County Sheriff’s Office will continue to educate kayakers and paddlers about the required equipment through the end of June. However, beginning in July, the Marine Unit will begin issuing summonses to individuals using a paddle craft without the required equipment. The Deputies will escort the paddle craft operator and vessel to shore ending the excursion until the operator can produce the necessary equipment.
Sheriff Timothy Howard stated, “It is great to see the explosion of kayakers and other craft on the waterways but these individuals need to be aware that the New York State Navigational laws apply to them as well. My Deputies’ efforts aren’t intended to ruin a day on the water rather they are trying to prevent a tragedy. Both motor boats and paddle craft need to be aware of the rules and practice safe boating.”
Over the past few years, Marine Deputies have stopped paddlers and educated them to the dangers of the waterways and the need to understand the laws that apply to the operator. However, the Sheriff’s Office believes that drastic increase in this type of watercraft dictates that safety of all boaters comes first and summonses will be issued.
On New York State waterways, paddle craft operating at night must carry a white light to display to prevent collisions. Also, the state has adopted federal regulations requiring every paddle craft operator carry a whistle or other sound making device to alert other boaters of their presence.
For a downloadable PDF file of the New York State Boater’s Guide, please visit http://nysparks.com/recreation/boating/documents/NYSBoatersGuide.pdf
Paddle craft operators can also take a free online Paddle Safety Course at www.paddlecourse.com .
Sheriff Howard added, “I encourage everyone who uses paddle craft to take the free online course and educate themselves to the guidelines of using canoes, kayaks, or paddle boards.”