California Kayak Permit: Things To Know

Rivers, lakes, and oceans abound throughout the gorgeous state of California. There are also many rivers that empty out into the Pacific Ocean. You can kayak these rivers, but in order to do so, you’ll need a permit.

Historically, this practice served a useful purpose. Recreational fishing in California’s rivers is a popular activity. This means that many fishermen often go up and down the rivers. But times have changed.

The rivers in California are now used for recreational kayaking. This means that everyone can go up and down the rivers.

However, this means that many fishermen are complaining that kayakers are ruining their fishing. As a result, the California government recently passed a law that requires all kayakers to get a permit to go up and down the rivers.

In this article, I’m going to explain what this law is and why kayakers might need a permit in the future.

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Is a Kayaking Permit Necessary in California
Table Of Contents
  1. Is a Kayaking Permit Necessary in California?
  2. Obtaining a Kayak Permit in California: What You Need to Know
  3. How To Get A Kayak Permit In California
  4. Why Do You Need A Kayak Permit In California
  5. What Are The Consequences Of Not Having A Kayak Permit In California
  6. What Happens If Your Kayak Permit Expires In California
  7. Here's What You Need To Know To Wakesurf Behind an Inboard/outboard Boat:
  8. Inboards/Outboards Wake Waves
  9. How Many People Can Ride the Wake from Inboards/Outboards?
  10. Best Wakesurfing Position
  11. Choosing Boats For Wakesurfing
  12. When To Board and When To Stand Up Behind an Inboard/outboard?
  13. Final Thoughts
  14. Here's What Size Motor Do I Need For A 17 Foot Boat:
  15. What Size Motor Is Best For a 17 Foot Boat?
  16. Considerations When Choosing The Right Motor
  17. How Big of A Motor Can You Put on A 17 Ft Boat?
  18. Common Mistakes When Determining The Motor Size
  19. Outboard vs. Inboard: Does Size Matter
  20. Conclusion

Is a Kayaking Permit Necessary in California?

All motorized vehicles need a permit in California. This includes your watercraft. The coast guard and Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) have specific requirements, and info boaters need to be aware of them to stay safe and legal on the waterway.

When you purchase a trolling motor in California, the dealer is required by law to give you a notice of the requirement to get a California Boater Card. The motorized vessel permit is good for the life of the vessel and is nontransferable to another owner. 

An inflatable kayak with a trolling motor is considered a motorized vessel and needs to be registered with the DMV.

To obtain a Certificate of Ownership for a boat that is 16 feet or shorter, visit your local Department of Motor Vehicles.

Obtaining a Kayak Permit in California: What You Need to Know

In the Golden State of California, the legal age to operate any type of powerboat (including a paddleboard) is 18. A person under 18 years old cannot operate a powerboat.

However, this regulation can be broken if the operator is under the supervision of an adult over the age of 18. Someone can still receive a DUI citation if they are paddling a kayak or paddle board.

If you’re caught operating a powerboat in California without a valid driver’s license, you could face fines up to $1,000 and jail time. If you’re caught driving a powerboat with a suspended or revoked license, you could face additional penalties.

In addition to the legal restrictions regarding alcohol consumption, it is illegal to consume alcohol while operating a powerboat in certain areas of California. 

Within one mile of the Pacific Ocean, the San Francisco Bay, Lake Tahoe, the Sacramento River, the Los Angeles River, the Santa Ana River, the Central Valley Flood Control Channel, Ventura Harbor, Carquinez Strait, Suisun Bay, and other bodies of water all have zero tolerance policies for boaters who choose to imbibe while at the helm.

Laws Regarding Waterskiing, Wakeboards, Inflatables, and Other Tows

Inflatable watercraft such as kayaks, standup paddle boards, and personal watercraft (aka Jet Skis) are permitted to be towed behind vessels while operating under certain conditions. 

A vessel must have an observer present holding an orange flag and visible to the person being towed and the vessel operator. If the vessel is skimming over shallow waters, it must be operated at a slow speed.

Water skiing, wakeboarding, and inflatables are allowed only during daytime hours. All operators must wear a life jacket and use approved flotation devices. 

Operators must be at least 18 years old. They must operate within sight of the vessel operator and within 300 feet of the vessel.

More About California Kayak Registration Laws

Kayaks are vessels used for recreational purposes. They are typically small boats that are propelled by oars or paddling. A kayaker does not require registration under California law unless the vessel is motorized. 

Motorized vessels include those powered by motors, outboard motors, electric motors, internal combustion engines, gas turbines, steam turbines, and jet propulsion units. Some types of craft such as sailboats, catamarans, canoes, rafts, rowboats, dinghies, surfboards, windsurfers, and water skis are considered vessels even though they are not propelled by paddle. 

However, if the vessel is propelled by an auxiliary power source, it must meet certain requirements. For example, if the boat uses solar panels, it must be inspected annually. 

If the boat uses batteries, it must be inspected every six months. In addition, the boat must be inspected every three years if it has been modified since the previous inspection.

How To Get A Kayak Permit In California

three kayaks two blue ones and one red one tied together on a lake
How To Get A Kayak Permit In California

If you want to register your kayak in California, here’s what you need:

  1. Your Certificate of Ownership or proof of ownership.
  2. A photocopy of your valid license or ID card from the state.
  3. Proof of residency. If you live outside of California, you’ll need to provide proof of residence, such as a utility bill showing your address.
  4. Proof of insurance. This includes liability coverage, hull damage protection, and collision/comprehensive insurance.
  5. Boat registration fee.
  6. Boat certificate of number.

California Kayaking Education Laws

Kayakers are allowed to paddle across state lines without having to obtain a special license. To be sure, there are always exceptions to any rule. 

In California, it is illegal to operate a motorized boat within 500 feet of shorelines and waterways. This includes rivers, lakes, bays, estuaries, tidal water, and coastal waters. A person must hold a valid operator license to use a motorboat.

California Kayaking Fire Extinguisher Laws

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California Kayaking Fire Extinguisher Laws

Unless they have permanent fuel tanks or areas where explosive or combustible vapors could build, fire extinguishers are not necessary for outboard pleasure craft shorter than 26 feet in length. 

A person operating such a vessel must carry one approved by the Coast Guard. In California, there are specific requirements regarding what type of extinguisher is needed and how it should be carried out.

California Boater Card

The California Highway Patrol recently announced that beginning January 1, 2020, all boat operators must obtain a CalBOAT CardThe California Highway Patrol recently announced that all boat operators must obtain a California Boater Card. This mandatory requirement applies to all boats operating in state waters, including those used for fishing, pleasure, commercial, charter, tow, transportation, and other purposes. 

The CHP recommends that boating enthusiasts purchase the card prior to the deadline. There are several reasons why having a California Boater Card is important.

  • It provides proof of registration. 
  • It allows the holder to access information about waterway conditions and restrictions. 
  • It offers protection against liability claims. 
  • It helps prevent accidents and injuries. 
  • It assists law enforcement officers in enforcing regulations. Finally, it helps protect our waterways.

Why Do You Need A Kayak Permit In California

If you’re planning on paddling in California waters, you’ll need to get a kayak permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

It’s still true even if you’re just starting off. The DMV requires all kayakers to have a permit in order to operate a kayak in California waters.

There are a few reasons why the DMV requires a kayak permit.

  • It ensures that all kayakers have sufficient time to learn how to safely operate their kayaks.
  • It allows the DMV to keep track of all kayakers in the state. In the event of an unexpected crisis, this information is crucial.
  • The permit helps to support the division of boating and waterways in the state.

What Are The Consequences Of Not Having A Kayak Permit In California

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What Are The Consequences Of Not Having A Kayak Permit In California

Every law enforcement officer in California is authorized to police the state’s boating laws, whether they work for the state, a city or county, a port district, or any other political unit of the state. 

This includes enforcing rules and regulations pertaining to boat registration, vessel inspections, safety equipment requirements, fuel storage, pilotage, navigation lights, and many others.

The California Boating Safety Act provides that all officers shall be empowered to enforce the provisions of this act. Officers must be certified by the department prior to being authorized to carry out duties under this act.

How Much Does A Kayak Permit Cost In California

Boat registration in California can cost between $50 and $150, depending on the vessel’s size and intended usage.

There are different types of registrations, including recreational, commercial, powerboat, pleasure craft, and watercraft. Boats used exclusively for fishing purposes do not require commercial registration.

What Happens If Your Kayak Permit Expires In California

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What Happens If Your Kayak Permit Expires In California

If your kayak permit expires in California, you may be subject to a fine. Paddlers must have a valid sticker on their kayak at all times when launching from a marina in the United States.

No Coast Guard kayaker will be issued a new permit if their old one has expired. If your permit is expired, your kayak may be impounded, and you may be subject to a fine.

It is important to keep your kayak in a serviceable condition and to renew your kayak registration when it expires. You’ll save money on possible fines and protect the security of both you and your kayak if you follow these rules before hitting the water in California.

How To Renew Your Kayak Permit In California

In order to renew your kayak permit in California, you’ll need to complete a few simple steps. In the first place, you’ll need to fill out a renewal form, which may be obtained from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Next, you’ll need to submit the completed form, along with a $5 renewal fee, to the address listed on the form. Finally, you’ll need to wait for your new permit to arrive in the mail. 

If you’re a California resident, you can renew your kayak permit either online or by mail. To renew online, you’ll need to log in to your account on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website.

Once you’re logged in, you’ll be able to complete the renewal process and pay the renewal fee electronically. If you choose to renew by mail, you’ll need to include a check or money order for the renewal fee. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I rent a kayak in California without a permit?

In California, you can rent a kayak from most places without a permit. However, you’ll need a fishing permit for any body of water where fishing is allowed.

Do I need a California fishing license to use a kayak in California?

In California, fishing from a kayak is considered angling, which requires a freshwater fishing license and the purchase of the statewide annual freshwater stamp. 

What is the requirement to apply for a California kayak permit?

To apply for a California kayak permit, you must: Be at least 18 years of age. Fill out and submit the application form. Have your personal identification card with you.

Is my kayak permit from another state valid in California?

As of December 2018, you can kayak fish in California with an out-of-state freshwater fishing license. However, you’ll need to purchase a $10 freshwater fishing permit from CDFW. However, you’ll need to have the original copy of your permit with you when applying for a California kayak permit.