There’s two type of SUP instructors.  Those who feel the sport is so easy you can teach anyone in ten minutes, then the rest of us who know to really learn how to paddle well, it takes time.  And not every student will pick it up asap. Many will come with low self esteem or a worry of their stability.  Others may have poor flexibility, recovering knee injuries or am out of shape.

When you get on the water anything can happen or as they say, sh.. happens.  And it does.  Everyone has an ego and that is one thing that may lead to an issue in class.  I’ve had students tell me one minute they’re feeling good and then next tell me they don’t have the energy to paddle to shore.

In either case, good instructors should be prepared for anything. Here’s a list of what I carry on-water for my lessons:

Flat Water 1-2.5 hr class in the Pacific NW:
– 75′ tow rope – floating line (found at kayaking stores). Salamander, North Water, Kokatat (brands).
(if it’s a glassy day, I’ll just bring my 8′ tow line attached to my PFD).
– First Aid kit. Advil, bandaids, Neosporin (barnacle cuts), duct tape.
– VHF radio.  Used as a walki talkie with guides; check NOAA weather and can call the Coast Guard directly.
– Cell Phone (where there’s reception).  Also great for taking pics of students.
– Tool Kit – extra fin screws; extra leash string; foil tape for dings.
– Energy Bar or similar (ShotBlocks..)
– Hydration for me.
– Electrolytes.
– Extra clothing for students if in cold weather. I get their sizes prior so have the right sized gloves, hoods, etc.  Usually they don’t know what they need on-water so bringing it helps if they get chilled.
– Medications (for me, migraine medicine) or for students.
– Mylar emergency blanket.
– Chemical heat packet.
– Waterproofed light for dusk or night paddling (also fits in my pfd).

Sound like a lot?  It all packs in a small 5″x5″waterproof drybag which then fits in my Seattle Sports Parabolic deck bag which is attached to cargo netting or leash plugs on my board (nose).  The tow line is strapped to my waist if I’m in windy conditions when I’m more likely to tow someone. And being on the water means you may have to tow someone else other than a customer such as capsized kayakers, a fatigued swimmer, or kite surfer with a lost board.

In our area I wear a PFD (Vest style) in my classes.  It keeps me warmer and has pockets to put some of the above items (VHF, cell, whistle, tow line, etc).

Rough Water 2-4hr class in Surf, tidal rapids, whitewater or open water:

Add to the above list:
– 3-4 rocket flares (hand held) double zip locked.
– More substantial First Aid kit.
– Add a few more chemical heat packets.

*Consider having your students carry their own gear by adding drybags or deck bags to their boards.  

Salmon Bay Paddle SUP Tips

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