Paddle Boarding Solo: What You Need to Know

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Paddle Boarding Solo: What You Need to Know

As told by ISLE Advocate, Jen Cacho (@northwest_jen)

Breaking unhealthy habits

Tell me if this sounds familiar. You and your paddle buddy make plans to hit the water at 6:00 am for a sunrise paddle, but they end up ditching last minute. You decide it's not worth the trip anymore because you don't want to go by yourself. Another missed opportunity… Paddle boarding solo

Just go solo 

How many times have you planned an adventure around someone else’s schedule? It can be difficult to coordinate conflicting work routines, and too often we cancel plans because somebody “can’t make it.”  But guess what, you are more than capable of going solo. Don’t get me wrong, it can be quite intimidating at first. So before you jet off on your journey of self discovery, here are a 4 tips to ensure that your solo party goes off without a hitch. Paddle boarding solo

Tips for paddle boarding solo

 1. Pick three emergency contacts

Choose three trustworthy people and tell them about your plans before you head out
  • Drop a pin. When you get to your location, open your Maps app and screenshot your location to share with your contacts. If you are going somewhere without service, you will have to decide in advance where you are going. At the very least, give your contacts the name of the park or mile marker where you will be parking. Most importantly, stick to the plan. If something goes wrong and you’re not where you said you’d be...well, you’ve probably seen Cast Away.
  • I’ll be home for Christmas. Tell them when they can expect you home. If you’re like me, and typically are bad at giving accurate ETA’s, give them a time that they can expect to hear from you. Send them a text to let them know that you’re alright, and then tell them when they will hear from you next. Again, if you don’t have service, then you need to either find service to send a text, or stick to the plan and come home on time.
  • Your license plate number. It may seem a little excessive, but do you know how many white Subaru Outbacks there are in the world? If for any reason a search is initiated, this information is extremely helpful for rescue crews.
  • “If ___, then ___.” It’s about to get heavy...This is where you tell your contacts to report you missing if they don’t hear from you by the agreed upon time. This is probably the most important piece of information, and it is also why you need to choose trustworthy people. Now, to whom they report to is up to you. I have my contacts notify my parents first. Then my parents can decide what to do from there.
Paddle boarding solo

2. Pack appropriately

I like to keep everything in my dry bag in the garage, that way it is easy to grab and go! Here’s what you’ll find in my pack:
  • First aid kit
  • Life jacket and whistle
  • Change of clothes
  • Lighter and fire starters
  • Hunting knife
  • Hammock
  • Portable phone charger bank
  • Calorie dense snacks (i.e. protein bars, trail mix)
  • 1L of water
  • Laser pointer (this has saved my life once before)
  • GoPro and/or DSLR camera
  • Bluetooth speaker
Paddle boarding solo

3. Know your limits

In mountaineering, we say that “getting to the top is optional, but getting down is mandatory.” The very same applies to paddle boarding. Paddling out is easy, but just remember that you have to paddle back. And if it is your first time paddling alone, please go somewhere where there will be other people present. Until you are confident in your abilities, you should not be paddling unfamiliar water alone. Paddle boarding solo

4. Do your homework

Don’t go racing downstream if you don’t know what lies ahead. I’ll tell you right now, SUP vs. waterfall is no contest. Get on Google Maps or talk with the forest rangers or lifeguards. Know the tides. Check the weather. Just be smart and do your research before you head out. Paddle boarding solo

5. Have fun!

You will be pleasantly surprised by how peaceful your own company can be. You’ll learn a lot about yourself and your abilities as a paddler and explorer. It is empowering, and it allows you to be present in a moment without having to worry about anyone else’s needs besides your own. It’s not selfish, it's self-care. We all need time to ourselves every now and then. So go out there and get to exploring! In the end, that is what it’s all about.  

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