Are you looking for a new, fun way to remain healthy and active round the year?
If so, you will definitely want to give stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) a try.
It is fast becoming one of the most popular water sports in North America. This is largely due to the fact that SUP is affordable and requires minimal gear. You can use a paddleboard for racing, surfing, exploration, fishing, and much more.
You can also spend a few hours simply cruising through the pristine waters on your SUP board, building up your core muscles even as you relax and unwind in the lap of nature, after a long, hectic week at work.
For most people, SUP is quite easy to learn. It requires some balance and stamina, but is highly accessible to most adults who are reasonably healthy and fit.
The difficulty level of a particular paddling session will depend largely on your choice of location. Paddleboarding on a lake or reservoir is very different from paddling on the ocean (or even a fast-moving river).
The waters are calmer in a lake or pond, which makes paddling easier for beginners. However, the bigger waves and rougher currents of the ocean, if you can handle them, will make for a better and more effective workout. If you have some experience with water sports – and enjoy overcoming new challenges – then a paddleboarding session at the beach might be just what you need!
An Overview of Ocean Paddling
Stand-up paddleboarding might look effortless and picturesque from a distance, but the reality is quite different. When paddling in the ocean, you will have to navigate large waves that keep knocking you off your feet, while at the same time fighting the rough currents and avoiding your fellow swimmers, surfers, and paddleboarders who are having fun in the water.
At least a few times, you will get thrown off your board by a large wave. When this happens, you will have to fight the currents to get back on your SUP board and keep paddling. The strong winds and currents of the ocean can very easily knock you off your course, dragging you in a direction you never intended to go. Therefore, a certain amount of physical strength and fitness is essential for those who want to go paddling at their local beach.
Tips for Ocean Paddling
Experienced paddleboarders have, over the years, offered some time-tested tips for paddleboarding in the ocean. These tips could help keep you calm, safe, and stable on your board, even when the weather is rough and the tides unfavorable.
- Finding the Best Entry Point
When paddling in the ocean, one of your most important goals will be to find a safe spot from which to enter the water. Ideally, you should try and find a secluded spot that is not crowded by swimmers, surfers, etc. This will keep you from accidentally hitting a swimmer with your paddleboard.
Additionally, you’ll need to find an entry point that is free of any potential hazards, such as piers, rocks, and debris. Scan the waters to ensure that there are no objects floating around that could get in your way or cause injury.
You don’t want to go paddling in an area where you might fall off your board and land on something that will cause injury, as such an accident could be quite dangerous amidst the fast currents and large waves of the ocean. Similarly, you should stay away from any rocks or debris that could damage your paddleboard, upon impact.
- Monitoring the Tides and Currents
The importance of tides and currents in the ocean cannot be overstated. Tides essentially constitute the up-and-down movements of the water, while the left-to-right movements are known as currents. Together, these two factors will have a profound impact on your paddleboarding experience.
Ideally, you should go paddleboarding in the ocean when the waters are relatively calm and the currents aren’t too strong. There are many apps that can tell you about the state of the currents at your local beach, but you must check the speed of the currents yourself before entering the water.
In terms of the tides, the best time to enter the ocean water with your paddleboard is during the period of slack tide. This is a short period in-between the high and low tides when there is no movement either way in the tidal stream and the water is completely unstressed. This is the time when the ocean water is at its most calm and consistent, and a variety of tide checker apps can help you find when the next slack tide will be.
- Using the Right Safety Gear
You must never go paddleboarding in the ocean without your ankle leash and a personal floatation device (PFD). If the weather is cold, you must also put on a wetsuit before entering the water on your paddleboard.
If you happen to get knocked off your board by a big wave, the ankle leash will keep the paddleboard from drifting too far away from you.
A well-fitting PFD, on the other hand, will keep you afloat – even if you suffer an injury, or are overpowered by the currents, during the paddleboarding session. Finally, a layer of sunscreen on your skin will keep you safe from sunburn (and all other harmful effects of UV radiation).
A high-quality SUP board, an adjustable paddle, and the aforementioned safety gear are all you need to start paddleboarding at your local beach. As a hobby, ocean paddling can help you get your weekly dose of exercise, fun, socializing, and relaxation, all at the same time!