Year-long power test for paddlers


Paddle power: Kayakers and canoeists, like this one at the mouth of Patterson River, can rest easy in the knowledge that they don’t need a permit for small electric motors to supplement their paddling. Picture: Gary Sissons

KAYAKS and canoes can be fitted with small electric motors without being registered.

The trial aims to reduce red tape for low-powered vessels travelling up to five knots and ends 31 December.

The exemption is for kayaks and canoes with electric motors of up to 40 pounds thrust (or one horsepower or 750 watts).

“If the trial period shows that the safety of paddlers is not compromised in any way, this exemption is likely to become permanent,” Maritime Safety Victoria director Peter Corcoran.

“This will also enable an easier process for people taking their paddle craft interstate.”

The trial is in response to a recommendation from the Red Tape Commissioner to bring Victorian requirements closer to New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania.

Mr Corcoran said the benefits of motors are that kayakers and other paddlers can conserve energy and have some assistance in getting home after their trip.

“Maritime Safety Victoria reminds paddlers that the addition of a motor presents different risks while operating their craft, including incorrectly fitting a motor that results in the hull no longer being watertight; travelling beyond competence and capability levels; overestimating the capacity of the kayak to handle conditions further offshore that may change without warning,” he said.

Regulations with which paddlers must comply include wearing a lifejacket, carrying a bailer or bilge pump and a waterproof buoyant torch, having the means of calling for help such as a mobile phone and having an alternative means of propulsion, such as a spare paddle.

Safety equipment requirements, and guidance on how to fit a motor is available at:

First published in the Frankston Times – 8 January 2018

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