By Shannon Law
With a nearly endless list of possible paddle destinations in Florida, we want to help to ensure you both understand the local waterways and plan accordingly.
With your bestie or group of friends, being properly prepared will set your adventure up for success. Preparation is the most important aspect of planning a multi-day trip. Your group’s safety depends on it!
Here at aflote, the world’s first practical resource and social hub for paddlers, we love to see you having fun on the water, so we prepared a quick four step guide to planning your next paddle trip.
READY TO SET-OFF? LET’S DO IT!
- Never paddle alone. It is much safer, not to mention more fun, when you venture out with two or more paddle buddies. If you are new to the sport, consider a trip with an organized group. Paddle Florida has an extensive list of organized excursions. Find them here.
- Make sure you have the right safety equipment including PDFs, extra paddles, emergency food and water, flares, first aid kit, extra rope, a thermal blanket and an extra charger for your phone.
Plan your route
- Connect with people who have completed the route to get first hand knowledge of actual conditions – and make sure they are within your team’s abilities. A great way to do this is to check in on the aflote app and join the popular paddling homeports you’re interested in.
- Plan your daily progress based on your least experienced paddler and what they can reasonably manage. Remember, this is supposed to be fun!
- Locate places on the route to get medical or evacuation assistance. Find out if there is cell phone reception and options to hike out if things go sideways.
- Check for weather conditions before and during the trip. Windy is a great app for real time weather information.
Build a Packing List
- Make sure your packing list is in sync with expected weather conditions. Are you prepared if it rains the entire time? What about those pesky insects?
- Water: will drinking water be available along the route or do you have to pack it?
- Food: all that fresh air and exercise is going to create some big appetites. Make sure you have a per meal breakdown and the proper storage. You’ll need a working stove and a light cooler too.
- Clothing: make sure to pack layers that give you the flexibility to weather a range of temperatures and conditions.
- Camping equipment: sleeping cold and wet is no fun. Make sure you are prepared with ground sheets, a proper tent and warm sleeping bags.
- Check your equipment for damage or possible leaks. And don’t overload the canoe or kayak!
Staying Safe on the Water
- Schedule regular check-ins with friends and family along the route so they know you are safe.
- Wear your PDF properly zipped up. Do it! This is not a fashion show.
- In case of a capsize, always make sure you secure everything in your vessel.
- Never paddle blindly around a corner. Rather, check ahead when unsure of water levels, rapids or potential obstructions coming up.
Watch the skies and take a break if adverse weather moves in. Move quickly to take advantage of a dry window to set up camp ahead of the rain. A warm meal will restore everybody’s spirits if it starts to rain.
A kayak or canoe adventure on the water is a fun way to spend a sunny afternoon. Being properly prepared will ensure the summer days stay safe.
aflote is a mobile application that will help you find fiends, tap into local knowledge and keep in touch with other paddlers.