Updated: Dec 21, 2021
Paddleboarding in the sea is a different beast.
These tips will help you make informed decisions about sea paddling.
If at all possible bring a friend. Simple but it’s probably more fun and if you get into bother then you have someone that can help if you get into bother.
If you do decide to go out alone, ensure that you tell someone a plan if your route and what time you’ll be back. A mobile phone is a key piece of kit if you’re solo paddling in the sea. Don‘t leave the house without it!
Using your phone as a camera? I use a warerproof mobile phone case by Duc-kit pro. If you need one let me know. blow air into the case before you seal it as it helps it to float if something happens to the string around your neck! if you prefer to have to have it free, make sure it is at least in a zip pocket!
Tide and weather. When the sea is calm, it can be amazing paddling but things can change quickly. Waves make paddling harder to balance that inland water so dress well. The water is normally choppier and can make it difficult to stand particularly for beginners. I use the Met Office App.
Offshore winds. There have been a few rescues this year and last and some of this has been due to people paddleboarding in the wrong conditions. If the wind blows out to see, you like a giant wind sail can easily drift with it without even realising it. ALWAYS, paddle into the wind on the way out someone so it carries you back. Personally I would always avoid an offshore wind. Combined with tides going out, this can be very dangerous.
PFD (personal flotation device.) There are a million choices to PFDs now and they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Kayakers and canoes swear by their buoyancy jackets. If you fall in, you instantly float. Surfers wear nothing. I like the belt waist packs as they sit tidily on your waist. These don’t inflar instantly if you fall in. You need to pull a tab for inflation and the CO2 cylinders that help the ring to inflate need to maintained properly. Know your limits. Choose wisely. I like free shoulders hence my choice of Spinlock Alto. The following link will take you Sup Boarders Magazine where they discuss leashes. It has great info around what you might like.
Siri Schubert -https://www.canoeicf.com/athlete/siri-schubert
Clothing In the sea you could have a fill change of outfits for the weather conditions we get in Scotland. Will I fall in... will I not? Is it worth the risk? Check out this video by Siri Schubert. Watch here. She is a professional paddleboarder that competes for Switzerland. She knows what she’s on about! 😉
Leash. Wear it. Coiled or straight, wear it. If it’s windy, you don’t want to fall off and watch your board blow away 300m off from shore.
Get a lesson. Maybe you just want to get out. Having few session with Glasgow Paddleboarders Co to learn paddle technique or chat about the wind will make all the difference in rough conditions. Getting back on the board can be tricky so you need to be able to self rescue and get back on yourself. We’re recently signed up to become a trainer with Water Skills Academy. Course dates coming soon.
Charlene, one of our Facebook group members has some unbelievable photos and she is very lucky to live down by the beach in the town of Ayr about 40 miles south west of Glasgow. She has a Red 10’6 and has been paddleboarding for around 2 years. Lockdown has her stuck in Ayr but the sunsets and wildlife don’t exactly ever get boring down there.
In her blog post below she shares some of her highlights! A worthwhile read for sure.
Greenan Castle, Ayr
I remember the first time I ventured out on my paddleboard. It was at Troon beach several months ago and I was completely out of my comfort zone. I'm not really a fan of the sea and I didn't really have a clue what I was doing. I had only only paddled once on Loch Lomond, but how hard coils it be? Right? Seven months down the line and I have learned so much. Always be prepared for what the weather might throw at you, have the right kit and always take snacks.
Anyhoo today I want to focus on paddling in lockdown and how it has forced us to stay within our local areas. Gone are the free days where I would open up maps on my phone and zoom in to all the blue areas to see where my next adventure would be... Now I have Ayr or Prestwick beach and I cannot grumble. I've witnessed some of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen here. It’s different from what you witness on land. When you're out at sea, you are surrounded by the everchanging canvas of colours all around you, almost like you are part of natures painting. Magical.
As well as Ayrshire being a visual feast for the eyes, there is also an abundance of wildlife. Seals, dolphins, porpoises and whales regularly frequent the Ayrshire coast. Before I took to the water I had no idea we had such beautiful beasts so close to our shores and to be honest I secretly hoped we didn't. I've always had a fear of the sea and what's in it. That feeling of not knowing what's below you gives me the heebie geebies. I am happy to say I'm mostly over that. Paddling with some seals may have helped. I was amazed at how inquisitive they are. I think they are just are perplexed by us as we are by them. That feeling you get knowing you are so close to these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat is unexplainable. What a privilege!
Pictured above is what we think is a pod of dolphins or porpoises, too far away to tell hence why the picture is so grainy but still another amazing experience.
If your launching in Ayrshire then I use the car park at Greenan castle but what's great about the area is that the sea is so easily accessible. You could basically launch from several places and there is plenty of parking to do so. Greenan can be a bit craggy so be careful with rocks in the shallower areas. Outwith that you feel as if you could paddle for miles.
Always check the conditions when planning an adventure, check the tide times, wind speed and direction and check again before you begin as the weather in Scotland can change so quickly. I've had first hand experience of flat calm waters within minutes changing to choppy ones. A friendly reminder that we will always be at the mercy of the sea. Please respect it.
Follow Charlene’s blog here