What will you do if you are out on your paddleboard and you get into difficulties – or you find someone else in difficulties? Can you communicate? It’s an essential part of SUP safety.
Last summer there were several high profile rescues of paddlecraft (including paddleboards) where the paddlers had been caught out by a strong offshore wind. They were able to call for help using their cellphones – but were still a long way offshore by the time the rescue services reached them. Without their phones they would almost certainly have not been found in time.
The Maritime NZ Safer Boating code recommends that all recreational boaties (which includes us) carry two forms of communication. Which is perfectly realistic for paddleboarding; carry your cellphone (in a waterproof bag if necessary) if there is a good signal in your paddling area, or a handheld marine VHF (with channel 16), and the whistle that your PFD came with. (If you haven’t got a whistle, get a Fox40 from your nearest Rebel Sport – super loud and waterproof.) . Remember, waving your paddle is another great way of attracting attention.
Having your phone makes sense for so many reasons anyway – all the cool GPS tracking apps giving you info on how far and fast you’ve gone etc, your camera to take pix and vid when that dolphin cruises by, your music collection, knowledge apps for first aid, wildlife spotting etc etc. And it might save your life too.