Paddle sports such as kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boarding provide a great opportunity for exercise and relaxation. It is easy to understand considering paddling is one of the most peaceful ways to enjoy your natural surroundings. There are paddle sports available for almost any age group and there are options for all levels of fitness and experience. This means paddle sports are a great recreational opportunity for just about everyone and being well prepared will make your experience even better.
National Safe Boating Week, May 22 – 28, is a good time to brush up on some of the basics for a safe and enjoyable paddle. When thinking about safe boating many people don’t think it applies to non-motorized water craft such as canoes and kayaks. However safety is just as important if not more so when you are the sole means of powering your watercraft. Following the few simple steps below will maximize your enjoyment and help ensure your safety.
- · Make a float plan indicating what areas you plan to paddle and your anticipated timeline. Provide the float plan to someone who will be remaining ashore and make plans to check in with them at set times and at the end of your trip. This is important even if you plan to just paddle for an hour or two close to shore. Always make sure someone knows when you are heading out on the water as conditions can change quickly even on the calmest waterways.
- · Check the weather forecast before heading out and adjust your course or postpone your paddle if strong winds, thunder storms, or other inclement conditions are predicted.
- · Wear your Coast Guard approved personal floatation device (PFD). There are many life jacket options designed specifically for paddling. They allow a great range of motion and are quite comfortable even on long paddles.
- · Dress appropriately for weather conditions and utilize layers to easily adjust to changes in the weather.
- · Protect your self from the sun with sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, and lose clothing.
- · Make sure you have plenty of water and other hydrating beverages. You should have at least 12 oz of water for every hour you plan to be out. It is also good to have a sports drink or other beverage with salt and electrolytes to drink alternately with your water.
- · Take along some high-energy food and snacks. Ensure a good balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fats for maximum energy replenishment.
- · Take along a safety kit including basic first aid supplies, bailing device, signal flares and a whistle or air horn.
- · Make sure you have a cell phone or radio with coverage in the area you will be paddling.
- · Take a friend. It is always good to have a buddy with you out on the water particularly if you are paddling in a remote area, white water, or strong tidal conditions.
- · Scout unfamiliar areas before you paddle and be aware of areas where you may need to portage.
- · You are the best judge of your experience and capabilities. Don’t take on a paddle for which you are not trained or prepared. If you are new to the sport take a lesson or join a tour your first couple of times out. Come out and see us at Ayers Creek Adventures for some basic instruction and a great time.
While this may look like a lot to think about it only takes a few minutes to be well prepared and make the most of your paddling experience.