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Plan your Paddle : Paddleboarding in Berkshire

Whether you're paddleboarding in Berkshire or Barbados, it's important to take a little bit of time to plan your paddle to ensure it goes smoothly. Here are a few tips from our most experienced paddlers...

We all love just being able to jump onto a board and head out for a paddle. In the summer when the weather is generally milder, it's easier to get away with this but there have been tragedies with swimmers drowning in the Thames in Summer. Just taking a bit of time to plan can make for a more pleasant experience should something go awry. The elements are forces to be reckoned with and need to be treated with respect.


Water

Multiple factors come into play here, however flow rate is the main one to consider. As river levels rise only when flow rates are well beyond safe paddling conditions.

Do you know what the river feels like at

  • 8 m3/second or

  • 30 m3/second or

  • 55 m3/second?

Actually you’d probably not be able to paddle against the last rate and the river would likely have yellow or red warnings in force.

Most of our paddling is in the Maidenhead area in the county of Berkshire, so get into the habit of checking the flow-meter before you go out. Start to build up a feel of flow rate at the nearest monitoring station to be able to relate it to the conditions where you are paddling. If paddling higher up the Thames, the next flow- meter is at Reading and below that at Windsor, Staines and Walton.

When flow rates increase, it's wise to head upstream first when you are fresh and allow the flow to aid you on the return journey. Battling against it when tired can contribute to unwanted incidents and strained muscles. Be aware that you are only in control of your board if you are going faster or slower than the water speed. If you just go with the flow, you are delegating control of your board to the water and it will take you where it wants to go.

Temperature

(Of both the air and the water). In the Autumn, the water is still warm from the summer, but from November it cools fast as air temperatures plummet. Wear appropriate clothing for the temperature and other weather conditions, such as rain and carry appropriate spares for the time of year.

Wind

Wind can seriously derail your paddling plans. It’s not just that it has a chill factor, it can impede your speed if you have to battle against it. Don't forget to consider the wind direction in relation to where you are paddling and how far you intend to go. Most good apps will have both average wind speed and gust speed…Don’t be afraid to change your plans and pick another location to paddle that’s a bit more protected from the wind.


Sun

At this time of year, it’s a welcome sight to see the sun out on our paddles. It is lower in the sky but it can shine damaging UV and HEV (High Energy Visible light) right in your eyes. There is therefore the potential for both short term and permanent damage to your eyes. Having polarised sunglasses or at the very least a hat with a peak is important.

We hope that most of you are nodding your head to all of this and that you have considered it in your plans before heading out paddling. If you only take one piece of information away from this article, then it’s done its job.


Safe paddling!


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