September 14th, 2018

Earlier this month at T’ashii Paddle School, we had a group of 8 paddlers participate in our Paddle Canada SUP Touring Skills & Instructor Level 2 course. We spent three days on the water, and two nights camping on Vargas Island. Here’s an insight into what we learned!

Loading boards and launching with all your gear: it can be a bit of a balancing act getting all your gear onto the board and then getting used to paddling with the extra weight

Route planning: checking the forecast is key and it is always good to look at the trends over the trip to make the best decisions for the route to take. It’s good to keep listening for updates while on trip but there is lots of information you can gather before you go:
-Wind direction and speed
-Swell height
-Tide times

Chart reading: Navigation – using land features to see where you are on the chart. Using chart symbols to pin point location. Observing the depth of the water to be aware for boat traffic and likelihood of breaking waves

Choosing and getting to your campsite: from observing the weather forecast and looking on the chart you can determine where the best camping spots are and where to best shelter the group from the winds. Some spots may require surf landings so be prepared.

Setting up camp in the rain, and getting warm: keeping up group morale is important when it’s raining and windy. The key is to keep warm! First thing we did was get the group tarps set up and get the stove on to make hot drinks. Getting some meals on the go helps too!

At some beaches, Surf Launches are necessary.

Using VHF radios – Lots of places do have cell reception these days, but not all. Cell-phone batteries empty quickly, become water damaged or forgotten, never only rely on the phone. Carrying a VHF radio is your best form of communication, but requires practice and knowledge (Not to mention a VHF radio course). It’s also a great way to listen to the weather forecast, even if can be painfully slow at times.

Waiting out the storm: some times the weather just doesn’t quite line up. Always allow for flexibility in your plans, on our last day we waited for 3 hours for the winds to die down before leaving camp.

Making crossings at slack tide: on our last day we planned our route around one large crossing that was going to be very exposed to winds, and we could see from the chart that there was a strong current that would be affecting us. We aimed to cross at slack tide when the current would be affecting us the least. Closer to Tofino there are lots more currents that need to be navigated, a great chance to practice ferrying skills and using back eddies to get around the strong currents.

Group management: At the end of the day we all want to be safe and have fun out there. Sticking together with your group and making sure everyone feels comfortable in the conditions they are exposed to is important.

Thanks for reading and be sure to checkout the next Paddle Canada SUP Touring Level 1 course, Oct 27 – 28, 2018
Click here for more details and to sign-up

Kirstie Leighton & the Team & T’ashii