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Old 10-12-2015, 03:59 PM   #1
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Kiteboarders and rules of the road

Friend of mine went into the Baltimore Harbor last weekend on a gusty Saturday. He said he was accosted by kiteboarders inside the six kt speed limit on the way to the inner harbor. He said they were probably doing 20 - 30 mph and coming within 10 feet of the bow and stern of his boat as they tacked back and forth across the channel. He asked me who had the right of way. I thought they might be considered sailboats and treated as such. However they were also operating at an unsafe speed and behaving erratically.

What would you have done? He did not call the marine police or Coast Guard.

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Old 10-12-2015, 04:28 PM   #2
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According to the USCG, when beyond the narrow limits of a swimming, surfing or bathing area, a kiteboard is considered a vessel.


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Old 10-12-2015, 04:50 PM   #3
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Everyone is responsible for avoiding a collision. A sailboat tacking at the edge of a channel is usually predictable; tacking in that situation is not being erratic, so take that into account.

Kite sailors as well as operators of powered personal watercraft are often playful and immature in handling their vessels. As they are speedy and highly maneuverable, it's often best to maintain course. If they "buzz" you, it may be worthwhile to contact the CG.
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Old 10-12-2015, 04:53 PM   #4
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Thats really strange. I am a windsurfer and have never heard that a windsurfing board or kite board is a vessel. We cant operate at night. Also no floatation equipment (life jacket) is required to be worn while operating. No whistle or anything is required to play on. That is because it is not considered a vessel and is considered a water toy. Well, then I guess I can put lights on my vessel and go out at night now. Hmmmm... If a kite boarder or windsurfer came near me, I would not give way or change my course. They are highly maneuverable and can get out of the way really quick. The danger of it is if they happen to fall in front of your bow then you would run right over them. They should know better and should be held responsible for their actions. Just run out to the bow and scream "Rock on Dude" and see if they will give you a high five as they scream by. Wooohooo.
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Old 10-12-2015, 05:14 PM   #5
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Anything making way is considered a vessel. Size of vessel dictates lights horns, etc.

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Old 10-13-2015, 01:13 PM   #6
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How maneuverable are they really? Particularly when they are launched into the air? Seems to me they are barely under control except maybe for the most experienced.

But then I've never tried it . so I wouldn't know.
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Old 10-13-2015, 01:45 PM   #7
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Maui Kiteboarding Association, promoting Safe and Responsible Kiteboarding and protecting the Access of Kiteboarders to Public Beaches and Waters.

These guys seem to think Kiteboards are considered sailboats, they have a link to right-of way rules.

SUP's Stand Up Paddleboards are also considered vessels as in the link posted by Mr. DD492. As stated, if outside the surf or a swimming area, it's a vessel.
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Old 10-13-2015, 02:40 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by tbodine88 View Post
How maneuverable are they really? Particularly when they are launched into the air? Seems to me they are barely under control except maybe for the most experienced.

But then I've never tried it . so I wouldn't know.
They are "highly" maneuverable. The faster they are going the more quickly they can change directions. The danger is if they happen to fall in front of a moving boat. I would say paddle boarders are a problem now days since they are getting popular. People rent them and go for a paddle then pull out in front of a huge boat in the ICW. Paddle boarders only can go so fast. Thats a pain. A kite boarder may not be as manueverable because he needs time to change his kite direction to pull him in the direction he wants to go. Usually kiters have trouble with other kiters and windsurfers with kiters. They usually avoid boats as much as possible. On lake Murray in SC they wouldnt even let us launch our boards on the beach because vessels were not allowed in the swimming area. Not even if we would swim our boards out past the roped area. All we wanted to do is go out to the middle of the lake and sail around. A long time ago they use to call windsurfers water toys so to avoid wearing PFD's. Usually you will find kiters and winsurfers in large open areas with lots of room to go back and forth. They like very shallow water that you can stand up in when you fall. Harnessing the power of the wind is an awesome thing. Ive never had any trouble with boards of any kind on the ICW. Jet skies are another animal all together. Inexperienced kids rent them on the weekends and create dangerous situations up and down the ICW in crowded areas. Because of that i hate traveling on the weekends.
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Old 10-13-2015, 02:57 PM   #9
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Why not just enjoy the show

We have several areas of high wind and relatively flat water in the Delta and Bay Area. These Kite boards are capable of speeds in the 40's, fun to watch. California boating laws require personal water craft to maintain a safe distance of 100' when jumping your wake. The law makes no distinction between motor vessels and sail boats when it states no vessels speeding in confined areas , buzzing other boats and wetting down. As to not requiring a life jacket, in California any self propelled or sailing craft under 16' shall have a life jack on board for each person, this includes windsurfers and kite sailors. With all that said the Law enforcement does seem to ignore sail boats when it comes to speed laws. When I sailed Hobie's and high speed dingy's we pretty much went as fast they would go and ignored the law and got by with it. I think a lot it was because the law doesn't understand how much control you actually have over your speed with a sailboat. I had a kite sailer jump my 4788 bayliner multiple times off the tip of Treasure Island, quite a show. I wish I was about 45 years younger. That just looks like too much fun.
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Old 10-13-2015, 03:32 PM   #10
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I thought this was very good advice given to kiteboarders on that kite boarding website that was liked above.
"Situation: when operating close to powered vessels.

Definition: Power boats give way to sailboats. Power is more maneuverable, and can change direction to avoid collisions. However you should exercise caution around powerboats.

What to do: when navigating with powerboats maintain course and speed so that their drivers can anticipate your movements, and avoid you. moderate your speed, and do your best to keep well clear of them. Boats creates wakes that can cause you to wipeout, and boats are hard objects that you could impact with, not to mention their propellers etc. Never jump boat wakes with your kiteboard."

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Old 10-13-2015, 09:44 PM   #11
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Kite surfers are one of the many hazards boaters face as they pass by the town of Hood River on the Columbia River.

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Old 10-14-2015, 06:48 AM   #12
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Thats a cool video. That guy who layed it down to your port did get a little close for comfort. Hood river Gorge is the Hottest windsurfing/kiter area in the whole united states. Those big waves would challenge me and my skills. Im not that good to jump way up in the air. One thing I know is they do not expect a power boat to change course to let them navigate through.
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Old 10-15-2015, 12:13 PM   #13
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Simply ignore them, as you would a jet ski.

If one does crash into your boat , add chum to the water .
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Old 10-17-2015, 12:19 AM   #14
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I've been through Hood River many times when there were so many kite boarders you couldn't count them all. Flying in every direction. They cross directly in front of you and pay no attention. Many use your wake to launch immediately off your stern. Last time through I layed on my horn. Most seemed very annoyed with the horn but loved the wake. Changed course a couple of times for those who fell just ahead. Crazy!
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Old 10-17-2015, 05:49 AM   #15
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They not only have the right of way they also have the right to be stupid as do all people on the water. Decent windsurfing weather is usually bad power-boating weather, but less so with kites. Paddle boards are all the rage now so the courts will probably let us know what's going to happen with them soon. Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase small craft warnings. As responsible boaters we need to learn to share the water with all these new board boaters including the paddle variety. Boarders (sail,kite and paddle) are usually just using a small slice of bay, a particular break at a beach or even an inlet. If you see one in deep water they are probably going to change direction soon and head for the shallows. That's where they launch from, its where they park their cars, keep their belongings and feel most comfortable. Sometimes they get tired, gear breaks, a fin cavitates or picks up a weed and they fall in front of you before they can make it to the shallows. You need to be prepared for this to happen because if you every run one over its gonna ruin everyone's day, except the lawyers's.

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Old 10-17-2015, 11:22 AM   #16
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As both a kiteboarder and a trawler dude even I have found it unnerving on the Columbia dealing with kites and windsurfers. My take on it is to do the same as the tug/barge guys and hold a steady course and speed, mid channel and be ready to stop for either a idiot that isn't paying attention of someone that falls in my path.

A couple years ago we were headed down river in the 40' searay express we had at the time on a "epic" wind day. We were doing about 12kts and had no less that 200 kites crossing in a 1 mile width stretch. going slower wasn't a good option as 12 kept the bow higher to keep from playing submarine. Had to use the Kalenberg's twice for kites that just plain were not looking. It is really common for the tugs to be on the horn a lot at Hood River.. and every now and then they tangle with a kite.

As far as I know, according to the rules of the road.. they have the same classification as a sail boat.. but they NEVER follow the rules ( or more than likely don't even know them). The general thought among kiters is that they think WE have the right of way at all times.. the way it should be as in the case of Hood river WE are the vessel with limited maneuverability and kites are totally maneuverable.

But is a case of an accident the lawyers will more than likely TOTALLY blame the rich yachtie!


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