How to stay safe on your stand up paddleboard

Here are the answers to the test at the end of the environment problems chapter in book 3.

1. What are five potential environmental changes that can arise to problems?

Changes in the weather.

Changes in the sea state.

Changes in the current.

Changes in the water environment.

Changes in the shore environment.

2. What are some of the possible indicators that wind might be approaching?

Darker water in the distance indicating an approaching wind line

yachts heeling over

flags flapping

Smoke from that distant chimney no longer vertical

Sound of wind in the trees

3. If you get hit by a sudden strong offshore wind (ie a wind pushing you out to sea), what must you immediately do?

Start paddling hard back towards the shore. If you’re struggling, get down to kneeling so you can make better headway against the wind and/or avoid getting knocked in by the rapidly increasing chop. Or even lay down and paddle surf style.

4. Name some of the possible causes of a change in sea state

Change in the wind: A strengthening wind will cause the water to get choppier.

Change in the wind somewhere else: The wind has filled in elsewhere, maybe funneling down a completely different section of the lake or coastline some considerable distance away from you, but the choppy water is radiating out from there.

Change in the swell: If you’re at an ocean-facing location and a big swell arrives then you’re going to notice it on the water even if you’re nowhere near a surf beach.

Boat traffic: it starts getting busy at the local slipway and all of a sudden you have boat wakes coming at you from all angles and you’re struggling to maintain your balance.

Change in tidal state: A stretch of water that’s calm and tranquil at low and high tide might turn into a raging, foaming washing machine at mid-tide.

Change in location: It may be that you have paddled from an area of still water into an area of current with associated choppy water; at worst, a tidal race around a headland or rivermouth etc.

Wind against tide: It only takes a light breeze blowing the opposite way to a tidal flow to quickly create nasty short chop on the water surface.

Outflow currents: A river joining a lake or the sea can create turbulence, sometimes for quite a distance out.

5. Which of the following phenomena would warrant an immediate change of plan?

Sudden unexpected offshore winds.
Yes absolutely, as per question 3 above.

Diminishing light levels.
Not necessarily an immediate change of plan, but you’d definitely be wanting to consider why it’s happening and what the implications may be. If it means night is approaching then it’s definitely time to be heading for shore, but if it’s just a light layer of high cloud coming over it may be nothing sinister at all.

A rumble of thunder.
Yes definitely time to be getting off the water.

The wind dropping to zero.
This may just be the breeze dying out, in which case fantastic, you’ve scored yourself some glassy-conditions paddling! But it may be because a weather change is about to hit. Always treat any ‘unexpected gifts’ like this with deep suspicion.

A change in current.
If it’s suddenly pushing you out to sea a whole lot more than expected, then a definite change of plan is required! If it’s assisting you in the direction you’re already travelling then great, but it’s still worth considering what’s actually going on, and why, and whether there will be implications further along the route or whatever.

A change (for the worse) in sea state.
If it suddenly starts getting choppy then this may well be grounds for changing plan. If you’re having fun and it’s well within your capabilities then fine, but if you’re finding it hard going then head for shelter asap.

An approaching fog bank.
Definitely time to be getting off the water ASAP!