Safety is paramount to Hala. Here are our suggestions to staying safe on the any kind of water:
1) Wear a PFD – In the river the PFD is paramount. Currents bumping off an uneven riverbed are unpredictable at best. A life jacket is key to the running rivers safely on a SUP.
2) Use a Quick Release Leash – The use of leashes on the river is debatable. Loose rope or straps that could cause entanglement have always been poo-pooed in river culture. If you do use a leash (always coiled), it must be done in conjunction with a quick-release belt (inarguable). The leash attaches to a metal O-ring with the belt releasable at the waist in case of emergency. Even in slow current, a leash hung up on a branch or tree can be deadly; the force of water is many times your body weight, making it impossible to reach your ankle if need be.
3) Wear a helmet – Protecting your dome is always a good thing.
Hypothermia is Real. Since you’re on a river, the water is probably coming from snow melt. Be sure and wear a wet suit, dry suit or other paddling gear to keep warm.
4) Wear protective gear – Many of the rivers we paddle are shallow. And if you’re paddling rapids, shin and knee pads work in case of a fall.
5) Paddle with a buddy – This pretty much applies to any kind of paddling. It’s always better to be on the water with a buddy.
1) Be humble – Know your limits. If it’s your first time, you don’t need to do a marathon. Talk to your local shop owner about good places for first-timers to paddle.
2) Bring flotation – Check with your local shop owner about Coast Guard rules and regulations (as well as local policy) regarding lifejackets and paddling vessels. Regardless, it’s always good to have a PFD on board, especially since companies like MTI make versions you can wear around your waist that don’t inhibit your stroke.
3) Know the weather – It can change instantly. Find the best local website for weather forecasts, wind and/or wave predictions and tide charts. Have a plan and tell someone back on land what it is. There’s no shame in carrying a SPOT device or some other form of communication. You’ll be safer for it.
4) Paddle with a buddy – Again. It’s just fun to share. And it’s safer.
1) Be humble – Be courteous of prone surfers. Know your ability level and do your best to surf in zones designated for standup paddling. Or better yet, paddle to a lesser-known (usually less-popular) break. Even though it might not be the same quality, you have a paddle in your hands so you can make it past that flat section on the wave. Plus, you’ll have it to yourself. Beginners should never paddle out into a crowded lineup filled with prone surfers and/or boogie boarders. Surfing well is about experience. Ask a shop owner for good spots in your area to gain it.
2) Wear a leash – Standup boards are not small. If they get away from you they are dangerous in surf zones. Be sure you’re wearing a leash. Plus, that board attached to you is the best form of flotation you have.
3) Wear a suit – As a beginner, you’ll probably be in the water a lot. A good wetsuit can do wonders for your core body temperature. And hypothermia can happen fast in cold climates.
4) Use sunscreen – Or a rash guard to protect your skin. In tropical climates (or anywhere you’re exposed to the sun for that matter), sunburn can occur within 15 minutes. Try waterproof SPF 30-50.