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Put on an Extra Layer, or Three, to Escape the Crowds

Winter afternoon paddle kayak

Last year I promised myself that just because it gets a bit colder in the winter I wasn’t going to forget about how peaceful it feels to be on the water.

The kayak photo you see above is taken in a very popular inlet that is full of boaters and kayakers in the summer. On the day I snuck onto the water there were maybe a half dozen paddlers total. The other two picture’s featured are taken while Stand up Paddle Boarding on two lakes.

While more difficult to work on your tan in December, there are a couple of big bonuses to paddling during the colder months. For starters, the most popular paddling spots in the summer (that you shared with a couple of thousand others looking to get outside) are now completely yours alone! Breeze on up, park in the closet spot, and paddle without having to look over your shoulder for speed boats or jet skis.

I’ve also found with a more moderate change of temperature through the day, and a higher air pressure there is more chance to paddle through glass-like water and view some breathtaking cloud formations.

Stand up paddleboard on a cloudy day

But first make sure you check the weather. Most of us learn to paddle in the summer when capsizing means getting back in the boat and paddling in the sun will get you dry within a couple minutes. When the water gets cold: we get to practice our risk management and planning abilities. 

Living on the West Coast I tend to check the weather the day before taking into account the marine forecast near the area I’m heading to, as well as the previous days changes in pressure. If it’s forecast to be mostly clear with pressure stable or slowly ascending that’s a good indication for clear skies and low winds. And if you luck out with a beautiful clear day, still pack lots of warm clothes as part of your re-warming kit in a dry bag. 

Ocean temperature at my location is near 7-8 C, which gives me about 5 minutes in the water before I start losing dexterity, potentially making getting out of the water becomes much more difficult. Find the temperature in your area and use this great table to help you plan on layering up. 

Lastly make sure you wear a life jacket to match your sense of adventure and keep that stoke afloat!

Robin Hansen
Paddle Canada L1 Sea Kayak Instructor

SUP sunny November day 1