11 things you need to know before paddling on the sea

Paddling in the sea, we all do it. We get a little bit of warm weather in the UK and we head to our nearest beach. We soak up the rays and enjoy a splash in the (still cold) sea water.

Paddling on the sea is fantastic! But if you’ve never paddled on the sea before, there are a few things to think about before you launch your craft.

Before you hit the water, take a look at our top 11 things to consider when paddling on the sea, so your trip to the beach is as enjoyable as it should be.

  1. Make sure your craft is seaworthy. What does that mean? Well, make sure it’s suitable to go on the sea. Check for holes or scratches that could develop. Make sure your boat or SUP is watertight and if it’s an inflatable, check for punctures and make sure you inflate to the recommended PSI. Basically, make sure it floats and will stay floating. 
  2. Wear a buoyancy aid “BA” or PFD. No excuses for this one when paddling on the sea. Get a well fitting BA and wear it. 
  3. Make sure you’ve got the right craft for the job. If you’re paddling an inflatable, they’re more suited to calm conditions due to their weight, or lack of. If you’ve got something more sturdy like a sea kayak or surfski, you can potentially go out in a wider range of conditions. Just make sure you’ve got the experience for the conditions you are going out in. 
  4. On a similar note, wear appropriate clothing for the conditions and your trip. Just because it’s warm when you’re sunbathing doesn’t mean it’s going to be warm when you head out on your trip. Pack a dry back with layers and waterproofs just to be sure. 
  5. Always carry a means of calling for help and keep it within reach. If it can’t be reached in an emergency, it’s no help. You don’t necessarily need a fancy personal locator beacon (but if you’re planning on going out often that would be advisable). A fully charged mobile phone in a good quality waterproof pouch will do the job. Just make sure you keep it to hand. 
  6. Tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back. An easy one. Before you set off, just drop someone a text to let them know your plans. It’s always good to have a back up plan! Similarly, let that person know when you’re off the water too – we don’t want any false alarms.
  7. Check the weather. At the risk of sounding like your Scout leader, ‘be prepared!’ Getting used to checking the weather forecast is important for any type of paddling. Wind direction and speed will affect your paddle – for example if the wind is blowing onto land, it might be considered safer conditions than when the wind is blowing away from the land. Is there lightning or a storm forecast? Is it foggy or misty? If so, hang up your paddle for the day. Lastly, when you arrive at the venue, do the conditions you see match the expected forecast. TIP: flags provide a good visual clue on wind direction and speed. Think about the weather sensibly and the knock on effect it can have. 
  8. Make sure you’ve checked the tide. In the UK, there are two high and two low tides each day. Generally speaking, you won’t want to be paddling against the tide as this will waste energy, so go with the tide. Plan your paddle around when the tide is going out and coming back in. You can find tide timetables here. TIP: Think logically. Does a high tide create difficulties in launching and landing or does a low tide mean a long walk?
  9. Know your limits. If you’ve never paddled on the sea before, get some training at a local club or centre for some confidence. Enroll in a Discover or Explore award at a centre by the sea where you will cover off some of the important topics above in more detail.
  10. Buddy up! Not only is it more fun to paddle with a friend, it’s safety in numbers too.
  11. Enjoy it! It’s not all doom and gloom, we just want you to be prepared so you have the most enjoyable time on the water as you can possibly have. Afterall, paddling on the sea is a fantastic way to spend time with family and friends and enjoy all that nature has to offer!