Last week it was the heart-wrenching story of the two boys lost at sea while taking their boat out. Another story I just read was two girls in Lauderdale by the Sea getting blown off shore on their paddleboards and having to be helped in. These aren’t the first time things like this have happened, and it certainly wont be the last, but every time it is just as nerve wrecking and heartbreaking, esp. to myself and I am sure many others that it hits so close to home with how much time we spend in and around the water.
Hence the topic of my post. Safety!
I know, you rolled your eyes, I did too. Yeah, yeah okay whatever. But really, when it comes down to it, checking for safety and being prepared can save your life.
Sometimes those who are the most experienced are the ones who find themselves in trouble because we become a little lazy with paying attention. But either way I want to touch base on some very important things.
Whether in a boat, on a surf board, on a SUP or any other type of thing around the water, the first step is your PRE safety steps.
If you spend a lot of time in and around the water doing activities, it is super important to of course keep yourself in shape, maybe do some breath holding exercises, learn how to tread water for a while and float. The simple things that we overlook.
Before you head out wherever and however you are going CHECK THE FORECAST. This is prob one of the most important things. Look on your local weather forecasts, check windmapper.com, see what the tides are doing. Know what you are getting your self into. As we all know, the weather and the ocean can change in the blink of an eye (esp in Florida). One min its Lake Atlantic, next minute your in washing machine hell.
When you get to the beach, watch to see what way the current is going. Look at the buoys. Which way are they pointing? See where the wind is coming from (throw sand, look at palm trees, however you can figure it out)
Being at the beach there are SO SO SO many times you see people that obviously don’t know what they are doing just take their paddleboard straight out and next thing you know they are WAYYYYY down the beach and have to either paddle upwind (which most of the time they cant do) or get out and walk. Or times where it is nice and flat west winds, but then people get blown offshore, unable to get in.
Pay attention! Be aware of your surroundings. Look towards the land and find landmarks that you can keep your eye on and stay around.
Watch others that are out there to check for drift. How consistent are the waves? Where is the impact zone? Where are the rip currents? What’s my easiest way in and out? sand bottom? reef? how shallow? These are some questions you should ask yourself before paddling out.
Take your time and watch. Know your limits. And most of all, don’t panic if you get in trouble.
Learn your equipment. If your leash breaks while surfing, can you make it in? If your board buckles, what to do? What if you lose your paddle? Do you feel comfortable knowing how to get in? Know your limits before you paddle out.
If you are going out for a dive, MAKE YOURSELF VISIBLE. Do you know what your little pea head looks like to a boat that’s flying across the water with no flag? You cant be seen! Bring your flags people! If you go out at night, light up your board and flag like a Christmas tree. Yesterday we went out for mini season and a few people swimming off shore had a tiny light that we lost sight of after 100 yards!! Our board, we lit up like we were paddling the Christmas boat parade! I don’t know about you but if it was me vs a boat, the boat would win...
But really it all comes down to just pay attention, take the time to learn about the water and what you are getting yourself into. Google about tides, currents, etc etc and learn about it. The more you know the more comfortable you will feel when things are going right and when things are going wrong!
Know before you go and don’t be stupid...because it can happen to you…