To fans of kayaking, canoeing and paddle boarding, gliding along Florida waters is an expression of freedom; to advocates of boating-regulation reform, it’s time to mandate licensing for small craft without motors.
A citizens panel assembled by state-boating authorities will meet in Orlando on Wednesday to explore what could become a path to adopting registration and fees for small boats powered by humans, wind and currents.
“That sounds like a root canal for a paddler,” said retired Coast Guard officer William Griswold, a member of the Non-Motorized Boats Working Group, a panel reporting ultimately to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “But we need to start to get a grip on how many of these boats are out there.”
Proposals for licensing Florida’s canoes, kayaks and other motorless craft have surfaced in past years.
Each has been met by vehement opposition from paddlers and sailors of small boats, who say their pastime is healthy, affordable, inflicts little harm to the environment and is akin to riding a bicycle.