Clueless kayakers and paddleboarders need to start heeding boat traffic in Marina del Rey harbor

By Lorraine Alper Kramer

Paddleboarding is tons of fun, but please don’t leave your brain on shore

The author is an experienced boater and paddleboarder in Marina del Rey.

The ever-increasing popularity of paddleboarding and kayaking in Marina del Rey harbor has created a dangerous situation for sailors, power-boaters and paddlers alike: Some people just aren’t paying attention to traffic on the water, and I’m afraid that someday soon somebody’s going to get hurt.

We all share the same waterway, so this should be a concern for us all.

A few weekends ago, my husband and I were returning from a quick getaway to Avalon when we had a close call with several paddleboarders and kayakers as we tried to enter Basin C (between Panay and Marquesas ways). They were just sitting there in the middle of the entrance, blocking traffic, without any movement. We immediately put the boat in reverse to make an emergency stop.

While our 50-foot powerboat can stop very quickly this way, it’s still a potentially dangerous situation for others: We were blocking oncoming boats behind us, and that could have caused a terrible collision if those boats couldn’t stop fast enough.

Fortunately, everyone walked away safe this time. But if you’re a kayaker or paddleboarder who isn’t paying attention to oncoming traffic, I’m that person shouting: “Yo! Move to the other side. You can move faster than we can stop.” I also wave many of you over or flag you down to get your attention, even though you can probably see most boats approaching sooner than they can spot you.

I believe that experienced paddleboarders and kayakers should take personal responsibility to inform our less-knowledgeable peers about water safety. When I’m out paddleboarding and pass others who are idling out in the middle of the main channel, I tell them that for their safety they should move to the side of the channel, near the boat slips. I usually get a smile and a wave, and they move to a safer spot. Sometimes I’m ignored, and I suppose it’s not always because they couldn’t hear me.

As a fellow paddleboarder who also owns a power boat, the truth is that many paddleboarders not only risk turning a pleasurable outing on the water into a personal tragedy, they also put boaters at risk of causing an accident to keep from running them over. I don’t think I’m being overdramatic — when talking with other boaters, they all have stories of at least one close encounter.

Many kayakers and paddleboarders heed the warnings from rental companies to stay alert and keep to the sides of the channel whenever possible. I’m reaching out to those who don’t.

This isn’t a matter of right-of-way; it’s about all of us being cautious and considerate in a crowded harbor. Let’s respect each other’s presence on the water so we can all share a safer future.

 

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