First let’s just talk about the benefits of doing it, of which there are many! There are the obvious bits like it being a great way to spend time as a family and creates some amazing memories. Paddle boarding has been a relatively cheap way to get regular access to the water for us. There is the initial outlay to get the kit (and not just the board but wetsuits, personal floatation devices etc) but once you have the kit there are so many cheap or free places to paddle. Izzy (our daughter) has always had a close connection with nature, but this has only been strengthened by her time on the water and getting to see the world from a different perspective. Also, it’s been amazing for her water confidence and over summer she would often ask to go to a lake when we asked what she wanted to do at the weekend. This has also allowed us to talk a lot about water safety.
On Thats Note Lets Talks About Safety
Izzy was able to swim independently and has a good level of water confidence before we took her on the SUP. They are going to fall in, the water will be colder than most swimming pools, the water may not be as clear as most swimming pools and, apart from the SUP, you may be some distance to land.
We ALL always wear our buoyancy aids. Because of Izzy’s age and water confidence she has a buoyance aid and not a life jacket. They are two different things and its worth googling to find out more and talking to a SUP school or shop about which is right for your child if you are not sure. We also tend to wear a wetsuit if we are out with Izzy, even in the summer when the water can be about 18 degrees. This may differ depending on where you are but Izzy likes to be in the water so, inevitably, we mess about and fall in often. Keeping warm and buoyant means we are in the best position possible to look after Izzy. If we start getting cold, tired or cramping we are not fully able to support a child.
We also try to paddle as a family, with both boards on the water, so we can help each other out. If that’s not possible and we are going on with one board we think a bit more about where we are going, how easily we can get to land if we need to and always let each other know the route we plan to take.
Is your paddle board rated for the weight it is going to carry? It’s not just you now but a small person as well. This was a big factor in choosing the Bluefin Cruise 12. It can hold easily more than Marc and Izzy (and Marc is 6ft 5 and 15.5 stone!). Bluefins are great, stable boards so we think they are perfect for families. For more info click here to go to their website.
We typically paddle on lakes in the Lake District and canals, but we always check the weather condition and avoid windy days and if on the sea never go out when there is an offshore wind. You also need to consider tides (high tide, low tide, tidal flow etc). If we were to ask you which part of the tide cycle is the best to head out on and the direction of the tidal flow and you couldn’t answer do some digging first. There are some great online courses that are cheap and cover all you need to know to get out in the sea not only safely but to get the most out of it.
When the inevitable happens and you both end up in the water are you confident you can bet back on the board, can you get your child back on the board without going in yourself, if they drift away from the board are you fit enough to get to them and get them back on.
As always on a paddle board you should be wearing your lease (whichever is most suitable to the water conditions) to ensure you do not lose your board. Two people are now depending on it!
Let the fun begin!
So you have the right kit, a suitable location and you are all keen to get out. This is the fun bit.
I’m sure we all remember the early days of paddle boarding and being told things like ‘if you don’t get wet you are not trying hard enough’. Well if our experience is anything to go by you are going to get wet and they are going to love it!
One thing we did at first was just get use to how the board feel with the extra weight on it and with that extra weight getting all excited and wiggling around a lot! Just like when you first take to the water on your own, remember to relax. It makes a huge difference.
At this point we also talked about falling in and wanted to make sure Izzy knew how to do it safely. If you are not sure what the safe way to fall in is it would be worth looking at a SUP lesson to help build the skills.
Once we had settled a bit Izzy was itching to get on her feet. For the first 20 – 30 minutes she was up and down having fun whilst I sat down keeping the board stable. The photo above is from our first paddle together on the board and about 30 mins in.
Izzy has a great sense of balance, so the next step was to get up as well. It takes a little more care than standing up on your own, a bit more communication to tell each other if you are planning to move and a bit of anticipation of what an over excited little human is going to do but really, it’s not much different than paddling alone. The principles remain the same. Just be aware the board is going to feel a bit different with the extra weight.
Very quickly it becomes quite natural and you can just enjoy getting out on the water. A lot of our time on the water is spent playing on the boards, jumping in, having water fights and messing about but it’s also lovely to explore new places, see familiar places from a different perspective and just enjoy some special moments on the water.
To sum up!
If you get the pre paddle safety bit right (the safety bit) that’s a big chunk done. Safety is number 1! If your kids are like Izzy going to get wet but that’s half the fun (especially if she gets a parent in as well!). Embrace it and the memories it’s going to create. For us, paddling with kids is more about fun, the technique follows once the passion is there.
If you have any questions feel free to get in touch!