Staying Safe on Holiday Weekends with examples for Wrightsville Beach

Holiday Weekends are dangerous for paddlers. Mostly because people have an easier time getting a 32-foot motorboat into the water and up to full throttle than they have to adopt a stray cat. AND, they have the right of way over SUPs. It’s scary, but real. Boats can’t purposely run you over, but if you get hit, it’s your fault.

  • First, go out early or late so there is less boat traffic.
  • Look at the forecast. Watch the wind and radar.
  • Target areas that aren’t high boat volume.
  • Find the no-wake zones
  • Stay out of the shipping lanes and boating channels
  • Bring a cell phone in a dry case, in case you get stuck
  • Go out at high tide so there is more water to work with, less water to share.
  • For rivers and lakes, avoid areas with submerged hazards that can catch your leash, hit your board/boat, or hat you can fall on and get injured
  • Always have the proper equipment for the proper setting. In whitewater, makes sure you have your vest PFD, whitewater leash, if you use one, properly affixed with the quick release.
  • Bring water and something to eat.
  • Hit the marshes or back bays, coves, where there is less boat traffic.
  • Avoid public boat ramps, Public boat docks, and boat gas stations.
  • Stay on the edges of the channels.
  • Cross at 90 degrees and imagine you’re crossing 95 or the equivalent major superhighway. Make REALLY SURE you have enough time to get across. Depth perception decreases as you age.
  • You need a leash in surf
  • Do not surf in crowded lineups, find your own peak
  • Look out for beginners. They didn’t read this.
  • It’s better to seem rude and kindly suggest they paddle in a safer place then to not say anything and watch a Bateau butter-top them.
  • Stay safe, have fun

This isn’t just for beginners, this is for everyone. But keep in mind, you can follow all of these rules and still not be safe. I consider myself an advanced or at very least an experienced paddler and I follow these rules. However, even with the best preparation, you can run into fishing tournaments, random acts of boating stupidity, storms and unexpected conditions. For instance, when people who troll (fishing) they often don’t look in front of the boat until it’s too late. They watch behind to see if there’s a fish on. It is divide attention. Just like people pulling wake boards like to watch the wake boarder. Others, troll across inlets, perpendicular to traffic. And I’m not saying all fishermen. I’m saying all but one. ha.

Throw in swell, current, and the fact that we you can be tired from a paddle and you have a recipe for disaster. Remember this on all weekends, not just holiday weekends.

The water is ablaze with boat traffic, but there is still room for everyone. Just don’t set up camp in the middle of a drunken highway filled with first time boaters who only know full speed and holy crap.

For Wrightsville Beach, NC