Choosing not to paddle is never easy. Often you feel like you are missing out or are just a bit soft by choosing the safe option. However, this is just pride talking Knowing your limits takes an incredible amount of maturity. Remember if you paddle into conditions you can’t handle you don’t only endanger your own life you also endanger the lives of others who will have to put themselves in the same situation tho rescue you. That being said we do need to test our boundaries from time to time or we will never improve.
‘So how do we know when to paddle or when to call it a day and grab a cup of coffee?’
3 consideration to take into account
- Conditions: Consider the wind direction and the wind strength, have you padded in these conditions before? How big is the surf? Do you have to face massive surf on the paddle out and what about at your destination? There is nothing worse than facing massive surf after a tough paddle. How warm or cold is the water, have you dressed appropriately? What is the visibility like, is it raining, is it misty?
- Ability: Before you paddle out you need to have an honest conversation about your own ability. You should ask questions like, am I the weakest paddler in the group? (IE: am I going to be left behind by the other paddlers.) Have I paddled in conditions like this before are you likely to swim a lot? Am I fit enough to paddle the distance of the paddle? The enjoyment factor also should come into your decision will paddle in these conditions be fun or absolutely terrifying?
- Worst Case Scenario: If you make the decision to paddle what is the worst that could happen? How far away from land will you be? (IE: will you be able to swim to shore if you lose your boat?) is the wind blowing going to blow you out to sea or towards land? (Will the search and rescue area be getting bigger or smaller) What time are you paddling if something goes wrong will you be fighting daylight? Water temperature how long will I have before I freeze if for some reason I cant get back into my boat?
After analyzing all these factors you need to make a call, always err on the safe side. Also, realize that it is never too late to call the paddle off, even if you get to the beach all kitted up and ready to paddle you can still cancel the paddle and go grab that cup of coffee instead. Stay Safe!