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Legal Information Kayakers Should Know

This information is a culmination of information from many members, and should not be taken as a definitive guide.

What's Required of You

There are not a whole lot of restrictions regarding kayaking

Note that since navigable water ways generally fall under federal laws, it's the federal maritime laws that are usually in force. It's not easy to determine when state laws take over, but fortunately the laws that kayakers are commonly concerned with are essentially exactly the same at the federal and state levels.

US Coast Guard
USCG Rule 25(d)(II):

301 KAR 6:020 Section 2(b)(1):

IC 14-15-2-13(b):

Indiana Roster of navigable waterways:
Navigable Waterways Roster

Your Rights and Privileges

The US Supreme Court has ruled that navigable waterways which can be used for insterstate commerce fall under federal juristiction and must be held in the public trust by the state. Exactly what that means isn't easy to define without a lot of reading. American Whitewater has put together a somewhat comprehensive guide together, and is far more than any human would want to read. I'll sumarize a few key points below, but check other sources for more detailed information.

Right of Way

It's often discussed as to who has the right of way when traveling on waterways. In general, no one has a right of way and everyone is required to avoid collisions. There is an exception for boats that cannot maneuver easily (e.g. barges). So always assume you never have the right of way, and get out of everyone's way. The USCG has a FAQ regarding this question.