Can You Use a Paddle Board in the Ocean?
Is it possible to use a paddle board on the ocean? The quick answer is Yes! Stand up paddle boarding was developed on the ocean and it evolved from longboard surfing and outrigger canoeing. However, not every paddle board is suitable for the ocean, and paddlers should understand what makes a paddle board ocean ready.
USE A HARD PADDLE BOARD
When it comes to paddle boarding on the ocean, the best choice is to use a hard paddle board.
Hard boards such as bamboo paddleboards are superior to inflatable paddle boards in all ways and it is in the ocean environment where the differences between the two technologies are highlighted. Hard boards are naturally stiffer than inflatables which provides a better platform to handle the water chop of the ocean. The stiffness provides balance and helps the board flow through the rougher water with ease.
BE SAFE ON THE OCEAN
People who have spent their lives in lake water are often surprised about the power of the ocean upon their first experience. People who are able to walk many feet from the lakeshore are often surprised that the water can be over their head a few feet from shore in the ocean, and lake tide doesn’t compare to ocean swells and currents. It doesn’t take long for paddlers to quickly move away from shore on the ocean and before you know it, the beach could be out of sight.
For safety’s sake, you should use a hard paddle board on the ocean. There is a chance that inflatable paddle boards might suddenly lose air pressure and rapidly sink, increasing a drowning risk. In 2022, the governments of the United States and United Kingdom issued recall and safety warnings about inflatable paddle boards, because of the chance of sudden and rapid deflation.
Paddler’s finding themselves on a suddenly deflated inflatable paddle board far from shore, are at a serious risk of drowning. Even if connected to the inflatable by a leash, there will be nothing buoyant for the paddler to stand upon or hold onto. This safety risk does not exist with hard paddle boards. There is ZERO chance of a hard paddle board sinking in the ocean.
THE INFERIOR INFLATABLE FLAT BOTTOM
Many paddle boarders on lakes own an inflatable paddle board and are happy with them. Inflatable paddle boards are great for people who want to paddle close to the lakeshore on calm waters. In fact, this is the way that most people become introduced to the sport, paddling close to shore.
All inflatable paddle boards have flat bottoms. Flat bottoms are fast, and offer a good level of stability on calm water. However, once the water becomes a little choppy, the flat bottom becomes a liability. Stability is dramatically reduced and the paddler will feel less balanced.
Ocean water is rarely glassy outside of the early morning. Once the sun rises higher in the sky and the wind picks up, the morning ocean calm turns to chop.
As stated earlier, hard paddle boards are better in choppy water. Most hard boards do not have a flat bottom. Their bottoms are concaved. Like a catamaran, concaves allow a paddle board to be more stable on the choppy water. Water flows past the board more easily, enabling easier paddling and improving the feeling of balance.
Yes, it’s possible to use a paddle board on the ocean and it’s highly encouraged. Just remember that the ocean is not the lake or river. It is much stronger and needs to be respected. Always wear a leash when paddling on the ocean. You and your board may become quickly separated after a fall otherwise. For optimal safety and a better paddling experience, use a hard board in the ocean. You’ll experience better balance and their will be zero risk of drowning from sudden deflation. If you’re going to use an inflatable on the ocean, wear a PFD, only paddle in calm conditions and stay within a swimmable distance to the shore.
The Wappa Blog
Written by Wappa's founder Layne Pennell, the blog's aim is to educate and share his love of stand up paddle boarding with anyone interested in SUP.
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