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Canoes and Kayaks

Are there U.S. Coast Guard regulations that apply to Canoes and Kayaks? The only regulation is the requirement for a Hull Identification Number.  So, are there standards for these boats that you should follow? Yes!

The American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) has a standard specifically for Canoes and Kayaks. This spells out standards for:

Defining what is a canoe or kayak

Safe Loading




The ABYC standard is H-29. Contact ABYC for a copy.

American Boat And Yacht Council
613 Third Street, Suite 10
Annapolis, MD 21403
Phone: (410) 990-4460
Fax: (410) 990-4466

Additionally, there are the following associations dedicated to canoes and kayaks.

The American Canoe Association

American Whitewater


Are there other standards for Canoes and Kayaks?

UK And EU. Canoes and Kayaks are exempted from the RCD.

Canadian Office of Boating Safety has regulations that apply to canoes and kayaks sold in Canada.

Canadian Standards for Canoes or Kayaks:

4.2 Definitions:

“ Canoe” means a watercraft, designed to be manually propelled, with provision for auxiliary power, with neither end having a transverse dimension greater than 45% of its maximum beam and conforms to the following table :
Canoe Length Maximum Beam
     4.25m or less 1/3 Canoe Length
over 4.25m to 4.9m 1/4 Canoe Length
over 4.9m 1/5 Canoe Length  The recommended maximum gross load in kilograms for canoes shall be less than or equal to that load which yields 178mm of freeboard. Freeboard shall be measured at the lowest point along the length of the canoe. The recommended maximum number of persons is calculated with the following formula:

(b) For outboard powered vessels (including canoes):

Number of persons = GL-We/75
GL = recommended maximum gross load in kilograms
We = outboard engine and related equipment total weight, as determined from Table 4-2 in TP 1332 part (see below) The maximum number of persons shall be rounded off to the nearest whole number. If the fraction is less than 0.5, round down to the next whole integer and if the fraction is equal to or greater than 0.5, round up to the next higher whole integer.

The recommended maximum power for canoes shall be as specified in Table 4-1

Canoe Length Maximum Kilowatt Rating Maximum Horsepower Rating
Under 4.6m (15ft) 2.25 3
4.6-5.5m (15-18ft) 3.75 5
Over 5.5m (over 18Ft) 5.25 7


Single Engine Installations

(1) Engine Power Categories   (2) Dry Weight + Fluids + Heaviest Propeller
(3) Controls
(4) Remote Oil Tank
(5) * Dry Battery Weight
(6) **Full Portable Fuel Tank
(7) Total Weight
(HP) (KW)            
0.1-2.0 0.0 - 1.5 13.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 13.7
2.1-3.9 1.6 - 2.9 18.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 18.2
4.0-7.0 3.0 - 5.2 40.9 0.0 0.0 0.0 11.4 52.3

4.4 Flotation Requirements for Monohull Vessels

Information Note:

Canoes designed to be powered by an outboard engine are required to meet the Minimum Flotation Test of section 4.4.1 instead of the Level Flotation Test of section 4.4.2 that is required for monohull vessels powered by an outboard engine.

see TP 1332 section 4.4.1


Information on canoeing and kayaking is available from the International Canoe Federation. However this does not include build standards for canoes and kayaks.

See my Ike's List page for other links on boatbuilding.

Revised 09/13/2018 2010 All rights reserved.

American Boat And Yacht Council  Boat Design Net  Wooden Boat Foundation
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