Respecting the local communities & staying safe paddle boarding.

With lockdown lifting in a few weeks I decided it would be a good idea to jot some things down on helping local communities and keeping safe in the water.

1. Respect the local wildlife

I’m going to talk about seals in particular here: Let curiosity be the ONLY reason for the seals to visit you. You MUST always let seals be in control of their encounter with you. Always let seals make the first move – let them approach you. Sit back, wait quietly and observe. Aim to stay calm and move slowly to avoid spooking the seals and provoking an aggressive response. Be confident that seals are generally gentle creatures unless they feel threatened. Seals default is to choose flight over fight, but they are most likely to be aggressive if you come between:-

  • them and their escape route to safety – the open sea – Never surround or corner a seal
  • a seal and its next meal
  • a mother and her pup
  • two males challenging for a female

Avoid these situations. With very large males that come really close, it may help to avoid eye contact by lowering your head and keeping still.

More info here: Read this on what to when encountering a seal at sea.

2. Take your litter home with you

So the rubbish bin is full, and you’re about to leave your carrier bag of rubbish next to the bin…. that rubbish will be enjoyed by the seagulls and spread across the road and beach within hours so please, if the rubbish bins are full, take your litter home with you. Don’t leave it for other people to clean up, or worse, for it to make its way into our oceans.

Image: Devon Live

3. Research your paddle spot

The amount of times we have seen people jump on their boards and are then utterly surprised when the current or tide drags them out to sea, or they can’t paddle against the wind. Each spot will have its unique things to be aware of. Research the paddle spots if you’re going somewhere new. It will make you feel more confident & reduce the risk of any accidents.

4. Respect other water users & be mindful of idiots

I think it was a few weeks ago I saw a picture of a paddle boarder in the way of a Tug boat in Plymouth. Save yourself embarrassment from landing on the page of the Daily Mail and understand how to use the water ways. Know which side of the water to paddle on and who to give way to.

We also witnessed a bunch of morons on jet ski’s last year who found it funny to get super close to paddle-boarders, trying to knock them off their boards. So beware of these kind of people, the pond scum I like to call them, get down on your knees if a boat gets too close to you. I like to politely remind them about getting too close but putting your fingers up at them works well too.

Image @oceancitypaddlesports

5. Take the appropriate safety measures

20 people were rescued in 24 hours on a particular day last summer. It’s pretty easy to paddle board but you need to know how to keep safe, the weather & ocean can turn on you very quickly. Read this blog on SUP safety and watch the video below on the importance of a buoyancy aid and waterproof phone case.

6. Park responsibly

I get it, it gets darn busy on the beaches and parking can be ball ache. However, the amount of occasions RNLI crew or emergency services could not get to where they needed to be last summer because of selfishly parked cars was astonishing. Please, if there is nowhere to park, head somewhere else.

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