How to stay safe on the water

2nd March 2021 Jack O'Rourke

A seemingly calm, sunny morning can turn into a windy afternoon, which brings high waves and strong currents. Before you know it, you could be fighting the ocean to get back to shore. 

This is not something that happens unexpectedly. Developing an understanding of how the sea behaves is the best way to stay safe on the water.

Before heading out, follow these simple steps:

  • Check the forecast for the weather and wind 

  • Have a look at the swell forecast

  • Find out if and when the area is affected by currents

  • Look up what time the tides are

  • Scan the chart of the area on Deckee to look for rocks, fishing farms, and more

All this information can be found online, for free. In fact, the Deckee weather button allows you to look at all this data in one place. The only thing you need to research separately is the local currents, which is easy to Google.

Here’s a few things to bear in mind, in order to interpret this information:

  • Over 20 knots of wind is a little too much

  • A swell bigger than 1.5 metres can generate big breakers

  • Even a 1 knot current can be hard to fight without an engine

  • If the tide or wind are in opposite direction to a current, the sea will be rough

  • In a strong current, paddle perpendicularly to it to get to safety

  • Some rocks can be near (or on) the surface at low tide

This is too much! I just want to have fun on my holiday

If this sounds like too much research for a casual excursion, you can always contact the local authorities, or ask the shop you rent your craft from for advice.

Alternatively, you could simply choose to paddle or windsurf in an area near a lifeguard tower.

Don’t rely on others to save you in an emergency, though. Make sure you are able to swim to safety (or on the spot), should you fall in the water.