Paddleboards are a great way to enjoy the water with your entire family.
Paddleboards are easy enough for anyone to use! You can use them on just about any body of water. Paddleboards are also a great way for the whole family to get some exercise while also getting some fresh air. Here are my tips for how to get started.
First, consider safety.
The U.S. Coast Guard considers paddle boards to be vessels. This means that children under the age of 13 are required to wear life jackets. Also, if you are not in a designated swimming area, everyone 13 and over is required to have a life jacket with them, even if they are not wearing it.
Make sure to apply sunscreen to avoid sunburns. Water reflects light, and you need to be extra vigilant about reapplying sunscreen. Rashguards are a great idea too. You really can’t be cautious enough when you’re on the water.
While there is a risk that you will lose sunglasses in the water, I still recommend wearing them. You can always use a sunglasses strap to keep them safe. The sunlight reflecting off the water is very bright and it’s important to keep everyone’s eyes safe! Hats are also very useful for this purpose.
I like to wear water shoes if I am in a rocky area.
Rent or borrow a paddleboard the first time.
Paddleboards are not cheap, so I would recommend renting or borrowing one the first time. That way, if you or your child don’t like it, you aren’t out a bunch of money. Some companies, such as PaddleSurf Champlain offer lessons in addition to rentals. Some state parks, such as Sand Bar, also rent paddleboards. If you have a friend with a paddleboard, perhaps you can even borrow it for the day to see if you enjoy it.
When my children were small, they sat on the back of my paddleboard while I paddled. While this was a great way to keep them close, children also tend to wiggle around and make the board unstable. As a result, I either sat or knelt on the paddleboard when I had a child aboard. My children also liked to jump off the board into the water. I couldn’t keep my balance while standing up with them.
Pick a great day to paddleboard.
When you are new to using a paddleboard, pick a day with little or no wind. Strong winds make it much harder to navigate, which is particularly tough if you’re inexperienced. Also, I recommend picking a spot that isn’t too busy. It’s easier to learn how to steer without having to worry about bumping into another vessel or running over a swimmer. Who needs that kind of stress?
One of my favorite spots to paddleboard is Knight Point State Park in North Hero. It tends to be less crowded than some of the more popular parks and the lake stays shallow for quite a way out from the beach. My kids also enjoy watching boats go under the drawbridge. One of my other favorite spots to go is Colchester Pond. There are no motorized boats to avoid, which makes things much more peaceful. I also like that I can give my kids a little more independence here. The pond is big enough to enjoy but small enough that it’s impossible to get lost.