Stand up paddle boarding's popularity has soared across the rivers, lakes, canals and just about any water body out there. As many people find this water sport thrilling, it goes without saying that safety is often overlooked. It is important that you don't get too excited for it and consider safety precautions before heading out. Before starting, we shall look at weather conditions, safety gear, along with other safety measures to take during paddle boarding.
Tip 1: MONITORING WEATHER CONDITIONS
Stand up paddle boarding is a skillful sport that requires awareness especially in dangers that may occur due to changes in weather patterns.
If you are paddle boarding in a new or foreign place, knowing the times of sunset and sunrise is important so that you never paddle when it is dark. Scheduling your paddling sessions knowing the sunrise and sunset times will also ensure you never start paddling before the light comes out.
Wind is probably the most important weather force to be aware of before heading out to the water. Higher wind speeds may render paddling difficult for beginners since the waters will get chopped up. During windy days, you may find yourself battling to stay afloat rather than enjoying a smooth paddle boarding experience. Therefore, checking the wind speed is very important. In general, if the winds go beyond 10 knots, paddle boarding may not be safe. Otherwise, anything below 10 knots is considered as safe for stand up paddleboarding. Wind direction is also essential. You can go against the wind while starting your paddling session so that on your way back it takes less time to reach the shores.
A good understanding of the tides is every paddler's essential skill while paddle boarding in the ocean. A small change in tide can move your floatable device miles away. Make sure you plan ahead of time to understand the tide movements. Working around the tides will help you avoid paddling exhaustion and save you time to make it safely back to the shore.
Tip 2: SAFETY GEAR
As you head over to deeper limits of swimming, consider carrying enough PFDs (Personal Floatation Devices) for extra safety. In fact, once a paddleboard passes what is considered as narrow limits of swimming, the law states that each passenger wears an approved floatation device. Make sure you choose a floatation device that offers maximum buoyancy. But don't wait until you reach these limits- having a PFD guarantees safety at all times.
One of the most important tools in a SUP board is a leash. A leash is what draws the line between safety and danger; especially in floatation devices. Any time you paddleboard without a leash you risk letting your board float away when you fall. This safety device attaches you to your SUP board and ensures that you're always around your board, no matter what conditions you are in. Depending on the waters, you may need to choose the right type of leash. A coiled leash is best used in flat waters as it does not drag the board and slow you down. Straight leashes will do well in the oceans and are strong enough to withstand the turbulent white water. In rivers or areas where there may be rocks or branches underneath, a quick-release leash will prevent you from getting dragged along if you get entangled.
Tip 3: IMPORTANT PADDLING SKILLS
Not at all times will you be alone while paddling (paddle boarding alone is dangerous too). However, when you have a partner, learn how to perform a simple flip rescue. Practice in still waters then when you are confident enough, you can try to figure out how to do a flip rescue in moving waters. Know the whole process and keep practicing until it becomes your second nature.
Kneeling and Prone Paddling
Apart from paddling while standing up, it is important to learn how to paddle while lying prone or on your knees. This way you can paddle on your knees in case your sup board breaks up. And, depending on where your board breaks, you may have to paddle with your arms while lying on your paddle. Knee paddling is also important if the weather is too strong or the currents are blowing against your direction. Practicing both skills should allow you to pass through murky and undesirable conditions.
Tip 4: ADDITIONAL SAFETY TIPS
Find a partner
As mentioned earlier, paddling alone is not safe and we recommend that you find a paddle buddy. You never know what kind of mishap you would face while surfing in the water. Something as your leash snapping up could be dangerous. Make sure you have someone to help or help you during such moments.
Yes, we are paddleboarding in the summer and the last thing you'd want on your way home is a scary face. Your skin needs extra care and protection from harmful UV rays. Apart from applying sunscreen, you can also wear a hat or a rash guard to protect your skin.
Don't let your guard down even when there's no sign of danger
If you want to go fishing on your SUP, it's important that your SUP offers the highest level of stability. If you are not good at keeping yourself balanced on the board, then you might consider using other equipment than a SUP board for fishing, like a kayak. Since you will be sitting in the kayak when fishing, the chance of flipping over would be much lower. So is kayak better for fishing than inflatable SUP, it's hard to decide. All you need to remember is not to put yourself in danger when doing the said activities. Don't ever let your guard down even when you think what you are doing won't put you in danger.
Other small tips include choosing a reliable and durable board. Typically a board from brands like Goosehill or redpaddle would be more reliable and less likely to break when suffer impacts from obsticles like rocks.
Summer is a good time for paddle boarding and there are tons of great paddle boarding destinations in America. If you are planning on going paddle boarding in Michigan, San Diego, Hawaii or other hotspots, take note of these safety paddleboarding tips and you should be one step away to a safe paddling experience.
Just be sure to remain calm the next time the unexpected happens.