How To Be Safe On The Water

Keep Safe on the Water with these top tips to look out for before you go. Whether it be paddleboarding, kayaking, swimming or any other watersport - these are essential for everyone! Enjoy your time on the water!

Paddleboarding Safety Points

Stand Up Paddleboarding is currently one of the most accessible sports out there. With increased accessibility and interest to the masses, understandably some naivety to possible dangers of the water can come too. Paddleboarding always looks so peaceful and easy from afar, but these are on days when conditions are perfect and we want to let you what these look like!

Planning is our best piece of advice before you go our paddleboarding – check the conditions and know how to prepare for anything that may come up.

Before you decide to go out, there are 3 main things you need to check to see how the conditions will be for your paddle.

  1. Wind Strength

To go out paddleboarding we would suggest looking at the wind forecast before you go, whether this be on Windguru, Windfinder, Weatherfile or whatever you prefer to use in your area. Paddleboarding generally requires flat, calm waters with little to no wind so you can get the most out of your paddle, as such we would recommend going out in wind conditions of 0-12knots. Any stronger generally brings waves and chop, which if you are learning or hoping to go on a longer touring paddle – is not the nicest! However, if you are hoping for some sup surf, stronger winds may be what you are looking for.

Wind Strength for Paddleboarding

 

  1. Wind Direction –

Once again, the wind is not always our friend! The direction of the wind is also a massive factor to consider before venturing out on your SUP. Even if the wind is still light, if you are out in an onshore/ across shore wind, you and your board will slowly be blown away from your original destination (not ideal!). Offshore winds in particular are dangerous as it means that you will be heading away from the shore and out to deeper water, and even when not paddling, you will be moving away from land (these instances can end up in rescue boats coming out to tow people back). When out in these winds, getting back will be a lot harder as you will be constantly paddling into the wind, increasing your fatigue and reducing the efficiency of each paddle stroke. When going out we recommend checking what direction is onshore so you can go out safely knowing no matter what you may face, you will always be pushed back to shore and safety; or adjusting where you paddle to the direction of the winds (it is easier to start paddling into the wind and letting it bring you back to shore on your way back).

ON SHORE WINDOn Shore Winds

OFF SHORE WINDOff Shore Winds

CROSS SHORE WINDCross Shore Winds

CROSS SHORE WINDCross Shore Winds

 

 

  1.  Tide Times -

As well as winds, the tide will also affect your board direction. If you are going paddleboarding when the tide is moving i.e. 2-4 hours before high/low tide, your board is going be more effected by the strong water movements. Going out at ‘slack’ tides are best, this is when water is moving the least and is up to 2 hours before high or low tide. Also note, some locations require the tide to be high (Poole harbour local to us especially), and if you are out when the tide is low always be careful of your fin hitting the bottom too as it can get damaged or even come out!

Know when the best time to go is and purchase a Tide Table.

On rivers particularly, you can get the strong water movements from the current which will take you down or up stream. We recommend preparing ahead and going upstream first so that you use your energy and power to start, and if coming back down the river to your starting place, you can go with the water and preserve energy and effort.

 

All this said, conditions may not be as they seem as you get to the water, and they can change during your paddling session. Extra precautions to take so that you are prepared for this are to go with a friend, and if alone, take a phone in a waterproof pouch, always let people know where you are going and roughly for how long. Wearing a buoyancy aid and ankle or wait leash will help keep you buoyant and safe (your leash will keep you attached to a large inflatable).

Planning is the key to a good paddle trip.

The Poole Harbour Team is always here for any more questions you may have or any feedback you have!

If you think you need some more tips to be comfortable to go out paddleboarding, you can check out our blog, 'Do You Need a Lesson to Paddleboard?' and then even buy yourself a SUP Lesson as we can teach all the safety points!

By India Hudson

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