OCEANSIDE — To keep boaters and the increasing number of stand-up paddleboards safe, Oceanside City Council unanimously introduced an ordinance on Aug. 24 to establish rules for human-powered watercraft in the harbor.
“All of us working in the harbor have heard many boater comments about the frustrations and safety concerns related to maneuvering around human-powered craft, and many reported near-misses,” Paul Lawrence, harbor manager, said. “It’s short of amazing there haven’t been more collisions.”
Human-powered crafts create additional navigational challenges for boats, especially near dockside slips and fairways.
Boats exiting or pulling into slips have little room to maneuver.
Those headed out to sea need to get up to speed to face wind and currents. When human-powered crafts block their paths, boats are forced to move off course.
“Vessel operators within the harbor have been experiencing progressively more on-the-water congestion with the proliferation of human-powered craft, especially stand-up paddleboards,” Lawrence said.
A trip to the harbor last Saturday found the waters full of kayaks, motor boats and a stand-up paddleboard or two. There was also the extra impact of the annual nine-man outrigger canoe races held that day, which launched from the harbor.
Lawrence said there is a daily average of 200 to 300 human-powered crafts in the harbor during the summer.
At the Aug. 24 council meeting Les George, a live-a-board at the harbor and owner of Pacific Coast Sail Charters, said human-powered watercraft are a serious issue in Oceanside Harbor and every harbor.
George said rental companies come to Oceanside Harbor and fail to train novice stand-up paddleboarders to steer clear of boats.
“Education should start with the rental company,” George said. “We need additional regulations to keep someone safe who comes from Minnesota and wants to use a paddleboard.”
New rules give a clear right-of-way to sailboats and motorboats. Lawrence said this goes a long way to keep waters safe.
“Greater safety is an intended benefit, as is the specific goal of fewer near-misses between operating vessels and human-powered craft,” Lawrence said.
Harbor staff has held preliminary discussions with police and harbor patrol about educational stops out on the water to inform human-powered craft operators of the importance of right-of-way rules. Lawrence said there are plans to discuss further steps.
“We intend to introduce signage, flyers, and we have begun exploring the possibility of offering a class,” Lawrence said.
Prior to the new rules city code prohibited the use of human-powered crafts in the harbor without a waiver.
New rules address stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, surf skis, outrigger canoes, dinghies, inflatable boats and pedal boats.
Not allowed in the harbor are float tubes, fishing float tubes, floating devices, air mattresses, and floating chairs.
The ordinance will return to council for a final vote and be enforced 30 days after approval.