By Hana EngroffPalm Beach Post Staff WriterAmy Hair was riding her stand up paddle board on Lake Osborne, something she’s done almost every day for the last four years, when she was stopped by two Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Marine Patrol officers.They told the 51-year-old, who was 30 feet from her waterfront home, that she had to have a life jacket, a whistle, and when dark, a flashlight and a visual distress signal on her 11 1/2-foot foam-filled board.“They said, ‘Let this serve as a warning,’” she said of the Memorial Day weekend event. “I said, ‘You are kidding, right?’”But they weren’t. Under U.S. Coast Guard regulation, stand up paddle boards are considered vessels, as of October 2008. The law requires that unless vessel operators, or in this case, paddlers, are in a swimming, surfing or bathing area, they must have a USCG-approved life jacket and a “sound-producing” device on-board.“Once they did that, we had to abide by their rules,” said Officer Jorge Pino, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.Because not many people know about the requirements for paddle boarders, “we’re not taking enforcement action yet,” he said. “Our goal is to educate the public right now about this new requirement.”Offenders will receive verbal and written warnings now, but repeat offenders will receive a $90 fine, he said.“It makes sense to me if you’re out on the water to wear a life jacket,” he said. “It certainly can’t hurt.”Hair, who paddle boards to stay in shape, said she disagrees.“I don’t like to wear it because it’s restricting,” she said. “Half the fun is just being out there in a bikini. How am I supposed to paddle with all this stuff?”Hair said she bought her home off of Lake Osborne in 1995 because she loves the water and likes having it in her backyard to kayak, water ski, wake board and, most recently, stand up paddle board.Since receiving a verbal warning, she has paddled without a life jacket and whistle, but said she’s worried she’ll get caught.“It’s got me livid,” she said. “I’m looking over my shoulder. I can’t enjoy it anymore.”

via Fish and game commission begins enforcement of paddleboarding law | www.palmbeachpost.com.

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