Leading up to the Paddle
Checking the Forecasts
Five Days before
Check the forecasts, wind, weather and swell and for whether an alternative location is required or if the Paddle must be cancelled. I focus on the swell and wind, only looking at the rain in deciding what to wear. Make sure that you consider any secondary swells and their direction.
On exceptionally calm days beware of sea mist rolling in. Do not paddle if sea mist is forecast.
I find in Cornwall that the weather comes through quickly and so if I see a ‘pulse’ of poor weather with good weather on days either side I try to stay optimistic. If on the other hand it is predicting 3 days of rubbish conditions then that is a different story.
Two Days before
Check the forecasts again. Reflect on the whole of the route that you have planned, pretty much repeating the steps when you were planning the route originally.
Make appropriate decisions, whether that means
· adjusting the route and timings
· Using the back-up location
· Postponing (possibly by just one day)
On the Day
Check the forecasts again and remember to look at them for the duration of your journey.
· Pack everything you will need
· Allow for plenty of faff time unloading and getting ready at the launch site
· Create an equipment checklist, this really helps.
· Check out the conditions in front of you, do they match the forecast? Are they as you expected them?
Reading and assessing the conditions
This is a real skill developed with experience:-
· Feel the direction of the wind at your accommodation and then at the shore, look at trees higher up
· Look at the water is it flat? Is there a line where the sea state changes beyond the cove?
· Out to sea are there sailing boats healing over?
· Take a 5 minute walk on the coastal path to gain a better vantage
This is the test of all that planning and preparation.
Deciding this is not the right place or that the paddle is to be postponed or relocated is never a bad decision.
I have been on a Guide training course where the tutors changed their plans with 8 candidates in tow. It was treated as a learning point.