Winter Paddling in Alabama
On New Year's Day I took a small group out on the stand up paddle boards and paddled just one mile to the James D. Martin Wildlife Park. It was a beautiful day and I wanted to share with all of you how you can paddle in Alabama even in the winter!
WHAT YOU NEED:
1. Paddle Board or Kayak
3. PFD (personal flotation device)
4. Warm Clothing
5. Water Shoes
4. Water Proof Bluetooth Speaker
6. Water Proof Phone Pouch
Launching at GadRock has some big advantages. The gym has the boards, kayaks, paddles, PFDs, as well as optional items like monoculars, flash lights and anchors. There is a five step ladder on the dock that makes dry launches easier and the staff is always there to help. The water around GadRock is typically calm. Venture out to the main channel to paddle around the City Center or explore the calmer creeks and wildlife park. Either way you travel, you will not be disappointed.
When paddling in the winter, I recommend going when winds are slow and the sun is shining. The sun was out on New Year's Day and as we paddled our body temperature rose and the sun kept us comfortable, even with temps hovering around 43 degrees.
When the water temps are cold, it is always a great idea to paddle with a bit extra caution. Be aware of your surroundings and watch out for limbs or other hazards in the shallows that may get caught on a tail fin and catch you off balance. As always, I highly recommend wearing your PFD, not just having one on your vessel! Cold water can be a shock and a PFD provides protection and a bit of warmth.
What did our group wear on our New Year's Day excursion? Our experienced paddlers wore athletic clothing, think what you would wear running in winter. One paddler was testing out their new board, and opted for a wet suit, and this was by far the best option. We had some that went barefoot (to each his own), but my personal favorite footwear for winter paddling is my pair of duck boots. They are water proof, tread is enough for balance, but does not damage the mat on my board, and paired with wool socks kept my feet super warm. Water shoes or booties are the best footwear choice, as there is always a chance of a dip! My other go to clothing item is my beanie. While on the water, a slight breeze will keep your ears cold, so cover them up! I bring lightweight gloves, but on this particular trip, I did not need them. I ended up storing them in the pocket of my PFD.
It ended up being a beautiful day to paddle! Just because it is winter, does not mean you cannot get out there. My best advice is to be prepared! If you plan on trying it out and have any questions, drop me a note in the comments.
All the best,