Ready to score some waves?
If you decide to paddle out in exposed water like open ocean and bays with in coming swell, more advanced instruction must be taken to be introduced to simple through to more complex skills and self rescue; learn to read currents, tide, swell and wind behaviour, and use it to plan you paddles. Winter means less people in the water, quite a few calm days but fun windy days as well. Summer is obviously warmer but more chaotic. Pros and cons of each, find out what works best for you. Winter will mean more high tides in the day, while summer has low tides during the day.
High winds are good for downwinders, super glassy days are good for quiet paddles. Look for breaks with channels so you can easily get in and out – point breaks are perfect. Also stay away from sucky waves and low tide. Low tide can make waves quite large. The beauty is that this sport doesn’t need perfect breaks – almost any wave is fun. Avoid spots with strong offshore winds anytime as it gets really hard to paddle in windy conditions, as well shore breaks and very choppy conditions. Watch out for other surfers and swimmers and get instructions how to wipe out safely.
Always keep an eye on weather, wind and water conditions. Know what is coming, so you don't get stuck in it. Know where you are going and how to get back.
Think of buddy system. Having someone keeping an eye on you could save your life is something goes pear shape. As well self-rescue techniques taught/learnt as an initiation to supping; paddling assuming a kneeling or sitting position, paddling prone using the hands and advice as to when to use such techniques (strong off-shore winds, broken paddle, strong currents etc.) A distress signal can include waving the paddle side to side above the head whilst straddling board or waving arms above head, side to side to attract attention. Wearing a Personal Flotation Device and helmet is a good idea.
Stay with your board
Stay with your board at all times, which is more visible in a rescue situation than a lone swimmer and will provide in most cases an adequate platform of safety. Always wear a leash so the winds or currents or waves don't separate you from your board and possibly endanger others. Don't strap your leash under your wetsuit - you might need to get to it fast.
Define the limits of use of SUP’s and appropriate, safe venues and situations. Beginning ocean paddlers should learn in flat water and stay far from the surf zone until their skills are solid. A beginner on a SUP in the surf can be like an elephant in a China shop. Don't underestimate the physicality of the sport.
Whether your favorite activity is swimming, surfing or any other water activity, there are many nasties to look out for in the ocean that are major causes of accidents and injuries. It is good idea to learn about the ocean and its behavior if you are very new to it. When stand up paddling it is essential to keep your eyes up when paddling. Don't look at your feet, look for scenery, shore breaks, sunburn, tsunami, and fins. Situation awareness is crucial.
Have fun, paddle safe!