Tips for beginners paddling on the sea: know before you go

Tips for beginners paddling on the sea: know before you go

Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside. As the song goes, most of us love a day out at the beach. But, if you’re thinking of paddling on the sea and taking to the water with your kayak or stand up paddleboard (SUP) this summer there are some really important things you need to know and prepare for. So, to help we’ve compiled 10 tips for beginners paddling on the sea to help you plan!

Here’s your tick list of ten things to think about as a beginner paddling on the sea!

  1. Know your craft – not all paddle craft are suitable to take to the sea and some are only safe in certain conditions. Check the instructions closely for your particular craft. Top tip: if you don’t have the instructions for your craft any more, Google is your friend. Most manufacturers have instructions online.
  2. Are the conditions right? – We love to talk about the weather! Don’t let now be any different. Knowing the forecast and how it will affect your paddling is super important. Wind speed and direction, rain and sun are just a few of the things to consider.
    Top article: Read How Can the Weather Affect Your Paddling for all you need to know before you go.
  3. Skill up – before you take to the sea you will need some basic paddling skills such as the ones in this video. This is a real top tip for beginners paddling on the sea! Not just for safety, but also for technique and conserving energy. Knowing how to control your craft and how to get back in or on it if things go a bit wrong are essential.
    Top tip: To get started head to your local club or centre and take the Discover Award
  4. Plan for perfection – Half the fun of an adventure is in the planning! Choose a paddling trip that is within your capabilities. Always let a buddy know where you are going and how long you expect to be out.
    Top tip: Make sure you tell your buddy when you’re back safely. You don’t want to leave them hanging!
  5. All the gear AND the idea – Your equipment needs to be right for you and fit for purpose. When paddling a kayak, a buoyancy aid is an absolute must. If using a SUP, your leash is your lifeline. Always check these items for wear and tear before you use them.
    We’ve got your clothing covered too, with this great What to Wear Sea Kayaking article.
    Top watches: Learn how to fit your buoyancy aid properly with this short video from Palm Equipment. Red Paddle have got your back with their SUP set up guide too.
  6. Identify yourself – The RNLI came up with the cracking idea of boat ID stickers. Fill one in and pop it on your craft, in case you get separated from it. This allows the coast guard or RNLI to contact you and make sure you’re ok. Plus you’ll get your craft back! You can also add reflective tape to your craft and paddles, just in case anything goes wrong and you end up needing to be seen at night.
    Top tip: All British Canoeing members can claim a free RNLI boat ID sticker or you can get your own here.
  7. It’s good to talk – We probably don’t need to tell you that it’s essential to have your phone, or another means of communication, with you in a waterproof pouch. But make sure you can reach it in an emergency too. It can’t help you if it’s tucked away somewhere. The RNLI have further wise words here.
    Top tip: If you find yourself in an emergency situation or spot someone else in trouble, you should call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.
  8. When you get there – Once you’re at the beach you’ll want to check it’s safe to get on the water. If the conditions aren’t as expected, you may need to revisit and revise your plan. When you’re starting out it’s best to use beaches which have lifeguards, as they will have flags informing you of where you can paddle. 
    Top page: Visit the RNLI Beach Safety page to learn about different beach flags and find lots more info.   
  9. Ebb and flow – The sea is ever changing. Understanding its tides, currents and waves will help you make decisions about your paddling and safety. For a basic intro on what you need to know watch this short video from the RNLI. Top tips for beginners paddling on the sea: For extra confidence and knowledge, the Sea Kayak Award is your perfect next step in learning to make safe decisions.
  10. Be ready – The chances are you’ll have a fab time on the water and come back with a huge grin on your face. If things do go wrong remember to hold on to your craft. This will give you buoyancy along with your buoyancy aid. Whistle and wave your arm to attract attention. And use your means of communication to call for help.
    Top tip: Take a friend. Your day out will be more fun and safer with a buddy along for company.

Now you’ve got this sorted you’re good to go! Enjoy your day out after those tips for beginners paddling on the sea.