One of the greatest joys of stand up paddling is the versatility; you can get out during the day, which is often the way to go for most people. But, if you want to experience the water calmness and the evening air, not to mention see all the marine species that come out at dark, then you may need to consider standup paddling at night. However, before you begin your expedition in the dark, you may need to keep some things in mind.
Choose a proper location
If you want to have an enjoyable nighttime padding experience then you must consider your safety first. A calm lake, bay or a harbor is always a good bet when it comes to evening standup paddling. Some people often choose the empty line-up, but the ocean is quite unpredictable and poses some serious threats, especially because of limited visibility. Either way, be sure to check regulations because some locations have hourly restrictions.
Plan your trip ahead
Before you set out on an evening paddle, plan everything. Plan the route ahead of time and let someone know your expected return time and let them pick you up at a given destination. Try to look for a place where you can pack your car or can easily get back to it via a bus or a train. When considering the route, always paddle with the wind at all times, otherwise you risk battling upwind on your expedition return. If you need to return to the same place, use islands whenever possible; they can easily provide wind cover.
When it comes to daylight paddling, you do not need to bring much with you. However, when paddling in the dark, it is important to pack smart. Just bring what you need only and leave the luxuries at home. This way, you are certain that you and your board can handle the load. If you’re planning an overnight expedition, it is recommended that you pack lighter things in a dry backpack, the clothes and sleeping bag. Don’t forget a real life vest, a head torch, some insect repellent, some personal medication and a spare set of underwear. Consider watches you can easily read in low light, otherwise, with all the fun that comes with evening paddling; you may lose track of time.
Bring a friend along
Always paddle with a friend, especially when you are considering paddling at night. You can support each other when undertaking this amazing activity and can have a backup in case of emergency. Besides, it is more fun to have a friend when paddling rather than when alone.
Get a good paddle
The type of paddle you will use during your evening paddling can make a big difference in your stand up paddling experience. Many rental companies use the Alloy paddle, which by the industry standard is indestructible, but, they are heavy and do not have flex. Think of this type as running with shoes at night but without suspension. Consider carbon fiber paddles, they are lighter and offer more flex.
The U.S coast guards require that any water vessel abides by the safety regulation and this means having a light when paddling at night. So, carry a flashlight or a lantern onboard with white light. The light should be shown to the approaching vessels and not continuously displayed. This prevents collision with other water vessels. Adding a light under your board could also be a runway of attracting marine species which could be fun to watch. You should not however, display too much light which could impair the night vision of others whom you may be sharing the water. For this reason, high-intensity lights are highly discouraged. Do not also create confusing lights or colors which may be interpreted differently by other paddlers of boaters. The U.S coast guard also requires night paddles to have a PFD, as well as a sound producing device on the vessel. It is also advised that you wear a leash.
Consider a tour
Photo Courtesy: Esca Lights
This is particularly important if you are new to paddling or do not have proper paddling gear. There are some evening glow tours that you can take advantage of from shops, resorts, and hotels. Some of these tours have certified equipment as well as trained guides.
Stand up paddling in the dark is a great way for paddlers to get more out their adventure, but it is always recommended that you take safety precautions. With these few tips, you should get started on your evening expedition. Start with just one night trip; then get deeper later on. Either way, don’t forget to involve a friend!
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