One of the biggest concerns most paddlers have before starting SUP is how do I find my way when paddleboarding? It can be a genuine concern and is something any paddler must think about before heading out, especially when paddling a new location. When you paddle the same route repeatedly, you begin to know your way just by landmarks you see along your way, but if you haven’t ventured into the area yet, taking a wrong turn down a river or paddling too far out can happen. Here are some safety tips that can help you from getting lost while spending some time SUP.
- Map Out the Area First
Check it out on a map before heading out to SUP a new area. You can check and see if there are any landmarks along the way, like a house or a cove area. Knowing the route you are going to take ahead of time can help you stay on track and keep you in safe places. Knowing how far you plan to go out is also essential when paddling areas like the Ocean. There are currents that can take you out, and it can be hard to paddle back in. If you are paddling downriver, know where you will start and end in a new area, that way, you don’t go too far.
- Take An Electronic Device with You
Take a device with you to call and get help if you need to. You can bring a phone, but make sure you have a waterproof case with you so even if it gets wet, you can still use it. Many SUP users wear Apple Watches or similar products, which are waterproof and can call out for help if needed. Not only will having an electronic device with you help you if you are in trouble, but you can look at the GPS on it, and it can show you exactly where you are and exactly how far you need to go.
- Know Your Surroundings
Before you head out, make sure you prepare for the surroundings you are headed out into. If you are heading out to a lake, check out and see if there is high traffic for boaters. If you plan to spend the day at the beach, check for rip tides. Being aware of your surroundings can help you stay safe and help you from going too far and ending up lost. Know ahead of time if there are any areas you should stay away from or any canals that can lead you to a place you do not intend to be.
- Use A Leash
Now and then, SUP users can fall off their boards or, on a hot day, end up taking a dip in the water. If your board gets away from you, this can be an unsafe situation. Being stranded without a board can leave you lost in the middle of a body of water. There are many different types of leashes you can get for your board depending on the paddler’s preference, make sure it is a sturdy one that will stay attached to the board even in a current.
- Check Weather Before Heading Out
Before heading out on your SUP, be sure to check what the weather conditions will be like before you paddle. Thunderstorms can happen quickly and being stuck in the middle of a storm can leave you trying to hurry back and end up lost along the way. Be sure to check ahead and find out if there will be any currents, winds, and rip currents. There have been times paddling when paddlers felt good paddling out and going with the current ended up kept paddling further than planned. On the way back, going against the current, when paddlers were already tired of paddling before they were even halfway back. If a storm rolls in, this can be even hard for someone with experience to make it back. It definitely is a good strategy to keep oneself out of dangerous situations.
- Make Sure You Know How to Get Back on The Board
If you are heading out to SUP, make sure you can get back on if you fall off or jump off the board. If you have a hard time getting back on your board, you can be left stranded or lost in open water. It takes a lot more work and time to get back to land, swimming the board in vs. paddling the board back. Before you head out on a long trail, practice getting back onto the board from the water to make sure this isn’t a problem for you.
- Check Out Landmarks Along Your Way
When you are heading out in a new area, take a moment to look behind you so you have familiar sites along the way back that can keep you paddling in the right direction. Take time to place landmarks in your mind and note how long it took you to get there, that way, you know how much further it would take you to get back. Noticing your surroundings around you can help you from getting lost or taking a wrong turn. If you happen to take a wrong turn on your way back and the area you are in looks unfamiliar, trace your steps back to the last known landmark you remember. Take a minute there and see if you can get your phone out, check out where you are on GPS, and get yourself back on the right track.
SUP is one of the fastest-growing new sports and a favorite among many outdoor enthusiasts. Spending time on the water offers excellent exercise and gorgeous views. Safety is always crucial in any sport, even SUP. Following safety precautions can help you have a great time and make it back to land safely. Make sure to stay safe along your way and follow these steps not to get lost while out on your board.