Having spent a year watching others start up what looked like a fantastic hobby in paddleboarding I kept thinking how much I would also love to give it a try but where to start? Hire a board and try? Buy one and go out alone? Book in for lessons? Everybody seemed to do it differently in the Facebook group I joined. Here’s how I decided to go about it, why I still think it was the right decision and how I found my new hobby to be…
I would have to say that if you are new to anything like paddleboarding that research and plenty of it, is key. Before I did anything, I joined a large Facebook group just for paddleboarders (this one here) which gave me so much insight into what others were doing, what boards they had, what safety equipment was recommended, where is good to paddle, what factors you should be checking prior to going out and lots of up to date information on waterways, rules, licenses and so on. It also gave me the opportunity to really decide if this was going to be the sport for me.
Once we decided that we’d all love it as a family, we made the final decision to go in and purchase a board. My husband spent hours reading reviews and watching YouTube videos to find a good all-rounder for a newbie. Sure, you could go for a cheap board, they are even available in some supermarkets now but we wanted a board that would suit us all and one that would last the test of time. There are many, many brands out there so there should be one to fit every person’s needs.
Once the board arrived, we made sure everything was there, in good working order and then had a practice of inflating and deflating it just so we could get to grips with it all prior to taking it out.
As someone who hadn’t ever taken part in water sports and as I knew I wanted to take my children out, I decided the best thing to do was to book a lesson. Luckily, an instructor had recently started up in my area and so I booked in for a 1:1 lesson to really get the most out of it.
Michelle was fantastic and went over water rules, safety, getting on the board, basic paddling, going from kneeling to standing and back down again, paddle positioning, turning, stopping and I even opted to jump into the canal to perform a self-rescue. If I’d gone out on the canal or to a river alone for the first time I know I would have made loads of mistakes, I would have been questioning whether I was doing it all wrong and I would have been nervous. A lesson gave me so much knowledge, it gave me the chance to practise and be corrected by an expert and to ask any questions as they came to me. Having a 1:1 also meant I got Michelle’s full attention and support. If you are in the Hampshire area and wanted to book in to have lessons to somebody please do check out Paddle SUP Company here.
Photos courtesy of Paddle SUP Company
Heading Out On My Own
Going out on my own with my kids still had me feeling a little nervous so we chose a nice sunny day, invited my sister along and chose to paddle on the canal where I’d had my lesson. That way I knew I knew how the route would be, we had somebody on the path who could react if anything went wrong or if the kids didn’t want to have a go and it gave me a little bit more confidence.
We let the boys take it in turns to sit at the front of the paddleboard as I showed them what it was like, talked to them about water safety and pointed out all the wildlife that was around us. Thankfully they both absolutely loved it and I ended up doing short runs back and forth to give them their go’s. I then tested out having both on the board with me. As we chose a larger board, this worked perfectly and everyone could sit comfortably and I could still keep control and balance.
Taking Our Paddleboard on Holiday
We managed a few trips down the canal before really testing it out on the sea in Cornwall. I’d not been on the sea before but I made sure I read all the posts I could in the Facebook group and ensured I bought good life jackets for both children plus a waist leash (which I didn’t end up using as I didn’t go on choppy waters or out very far) and a wetsuit for myself. As I knew I wasn’t going to go out far or push myself out of my comfort zone and as we had a lot of family with us, I didn’t purchase a buoyancy aid for me but I will be getting one in the future.
My first paddle on the sea was at Carbis Bay on the most still day I think we could have chosen – honestly, the sea looked like a lake! It made for the most perfect conditions for all of us to have a go and to see fish and jellyfish under the water. It was also a great time for practising standing and coming back down again.
Over the course of the 2 weeks, I carefully chose when I took the paddleboard out – I knew I was still very new and that it is very easy to get into difficulties. Risk-taking with water is a no-no. So, I avoided stronger waves but did manage to get out on light waves which really gave me the opportunity to test out my balancing and controlling skills! I thought the sea would be tricky on a paddleboard but I personally found that having more space than on a canal made it a much more enjoyable experience.
We all loved having a paddleboard this year for our holiday and I really think we need to invest in one for my husband now so we can take a child each and all go out and explore the coastline next time.
What I Love About Paddleboarding
Paddleboarding brings several things together for me: being closer to nature, being outdoors, water, exercise and depending on how I am feeling, it can be great as a family activity or just for a bit of me-time. Oh, and it can lead to a great litter picking opportunity too…
A seagull was trying to eat this balloon so I paddled over to remove it
My Top Tips
I am still very much a novice but I would say to anybody who was thinking about taking up paddleboarding as a hobby should:
- Do your research
- Speak to others who have started
- Read reviews
- Watch YouTube tutorials
- Learn about your local waterways (check what license you need)
- Have a lesson (you can often hire a board for this so you can see which you like)
- Don’t rush into it
- Join Facebook groups for tips and advice (UK, national or local)
- Always think safety first
If you are thinking about trying out paddleboarding I would have to say to just go for it! I wish we had tried it sooner, it really is a great hobby to get you out and about, to get you fit and to discover new areas.
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