From the paddler’s point of view
With stand-up paddleboarding getting
more popular by the day, how can paddlers
and boaters safely navigate around each
other? Let’s learn from both sides. First up,
our paddleboarder, Carol Newman Cronin.
Stand-up paddleboards (SUPs) can be like fiberglass gnats: unpredict- able and hard to spot. Beginners,
especially, need to paddle defensively,
which means avoiding congested areas
until you can reliably control your own
board. It takes time to develop the
skills and strength needed to maintain
a stable speed and direction. Until you
do, the best place to learn is somewhere
away from boating traffic. Once you’re
confident in your board-handling skills,
from both sides
the key to defensive paddling is to take
responsibility for getting out of the other
guy’s way. Here are some specific tips:
Anticipate interactions. You’ll see
other boats coming before they see you.
Don’t wait for them to alter course.
With enough lead time, you can get out
of someone’s way, even if you have to
paddle perpendicular to your planned
route to do so.
Make your intentions clear. SUPs can
seem erratic in direction. Hold a steady
course and, if necessary, use hand signals:
Point to your chest first, then hold your
arm or paddle out in the direction you
intend to go. (Repeat these gestures a
Avoid the channel. Most harbors
have a clearly marked route for larger
boats to pass through the anchorage.
Paddleboarders, please don’t use this. If
you have to navigate in the channel, hug
the starboard side.
Cross traffic efficiently. Take the
shortest route possible across a traffic
lane (usually perpendicular to traffic).
It’s often hard for other boaters to figure
out where you’re heading, so do your best
to maintain a steady pace and direction.
Can you see me now?
SUPs are hard to see from any distance.
Freeboard is the biggest factor in boat
visibility, and even boards with really
thick rails have only around 6 inches of
it. You may feel quite tall, and your board
might be bright red when you look
down at it, but from a quarter mile away,
your profile will blend in with the background – even against an open horizon.
Here are two ways you can increase the
chances of being seen:
SAFE, SMART & CLEAN
BY CAROL NEWMAN CRONIN & SUSAN SHINGLEDECKER
40 | BoatU.S. Magazine AUGUST | SEPTEMBER 2017
boaters can peacefully coexist when
both parties know
the rules and take