Water Fight: Boats vs Kayaks Who Has Right of Way on Idaho Waters?
There is a constant battle on Idaho waters between the motorized and the non-motorized watercraft. Boats vs kayaks has been an issue for as long as I can remember and now that paddleboards are becoming more popular they are adding to the mix and the agitation. Who's right, who's wrong, and who needs to get out of the way?
What's The issue Between Boats and Kayaks In Idaho?
The main issue that comes up every year between boats and kayaks is who is supposed to be on what parts of the river and lakes and who has to get out of the way. Boaters like being able to go fast and pull tubes and water-skiers. They don't like that they have to constantly slow down for kayakers and paddleboards. On the flip-side, kayakers and paddleboarders are out enjoying their leisurely float along the river. When boats come blasting by them, it can knock them over or cause other issues that make them feel unsafe.
I boat and kayak. I get that it can be hard to play like you want to on a motorized boat if there are small kayaks floating all over the place. But, I also get that I am out in public and there are other people out trying to have fun just like me, but in their own way. How I want to party doesn't technically make my way the right way.
As a kayaker though, I love when boats rip by us and we get to catch some rolling waves on the lake and river. That's just me, and definitely not how everyone feels about the situation.
Who Has The Right Of Way On Idaho Lakes and Rivers?
The battle on Idaho waters is knowing who has the right-of-way and who should be where on the rivers and lakes. Boats can't hang out along the shorelines due to the dangers of shallow waters and rules against causing wake and going over certain speeds within a certain distance of docks, shores, and other people.
Kayaks can go pretty much wherever they want, and sometimes that means they have to cut across the river or lake where boats are trying to play.
Idaho rules and boating safety courses state that you should travel in a counter-clockwise path on the water and that motorized vessels should give way to less maneuverable vessels.
That Doesn't Mean Kayaks Can Do Whatever They Want
So, based on that it's easy to say that boaters need to suck it up and kayakers can do what they want. That's not true. Most river and lake locations have signs posted with the rules for the area. Centennial Park is a good example of this kayak vs boat battle because the river is narrow and always packed with various watercraft.
The big sign at Centennial Park specifically addresses the issue that plagues the area:
The second section of this sign is especially interesting, and possibly bad news to those on kayaks. You should kayak in a counter-clockwise position on the river and stay out of the center so boats can get through. But, here's where the kayakers can argue that to follow the directional rule you do have to cross the river to get to the other side if you are heading towards the Perrine Bridge and Pillar Falls. Are you then breaking a rule so you can follow a rule? I think that's fine and not the actual problem.
The real problem is the bottleneck of kayaks and paddleboards around the docks and they are entering and exiting the water.