SUP trip to Hayling Island

Beautiful day for a paddle
Going paddle boarding was a snap decision, one of those spur of the moment things that happens from time to time; a quick check of the Wind Guru (pro) app showed ideal winds (10mph is max for decent paddle boarding and winds on Hayling Island were cross-shore around 3-4mph), tides were rising throughout the morning and G was in favour of his first SUP outing rather than our usual road or mountain bike ride.

So, 7:30am on Saturday morning saw us lugging my boards out of the garage and hoping that my wetsuit, unused for at least 12 months, would still fit then we headed off along the M27 to the beach front at Hayling Island.

Hayling Island is a good spot for paddle boarding regardless of the tide state as the steep beach drop means that the water is never far away!  The area to the right of the Inn on the Beach (when looking at the sea) is good for boarders and the sand bar creates a lovely shallow lagoon to paddle around - perfect for learning.

But first things first, getting the boards ready.  Now as I've talked about in another part of this blog (here) I opted for inflatable stand up paddle boards, or SUP's, mainly for portability and versatility - rigid boards are undoubtably better, although not by the same margins that you find in kayaking, and you still need to find the "right" board for you but transporting and storing a 12ft + plank can be tricky without a big car/van and even bigger garage - inflatable board pack down to the size of a 70ltr rucksack, can be carried easily and weight around 15kg - ideal.  The downside is that you need to pump them up!

This takes about 15-20 mins per board and you really need a low pressure and high pressure pump - the first to get the volume in the board and the second to "top up" to the required 20-25psi needed to give the board a rigid feel and stop it looking like a banana when you stand on it!

As I've found out the hard way you want to inflate your boards BEFORE putting on your wetsuit as the effort required in inflating the boards while wearing a suit will quickly make you realise how good wetsuits are at trapping heat and how inefficient they are at letting you breath!

G demonstrating that there is no "good way" to put on a wetsuit
Once we'd pumped the boards up, struggled into our suits, packed keys and phone into my Alpkit stuff sack (making sure it was securely lashed to the board) and glared at the ease which which another SUP'er unloaded his rigid board and headed into the sea we headed out for a paddle..

It takes a while to remember all the things you learn how to do and what not to do on a board and this learning curve resulted in my falling off just as much as G in the first half an hour or so - but once you've fallen off for the first time and are wet you realise that it's really not that bad and can start to enjoy the experience.

Using Donna's board (10ft6" RRD) which isn't really idea for me as I'm a bit big (yes and heavy) for it but it meant that G could use my 12ft6" Red Paddle Co "explorer" which, with a whopping 370ltr volume, is pretty much unsinkable (as demonstrated here by Donna going through some Yoga poses!) making it much easier to learn on - so that's why I fell off a lot, honest.

After paddling in the shallows and letting G find his feet (and the sea bed a few times) we paddled out to the edge of the sand bar and through some choppier water before heading back around in an anti clockwise direction (Easterly) towards the amusement park and then on round, and past, the Inn on the Beach.

A few hundred yards or so past the pub there is a large lagoon created by the sandbar and the incoming tide which we paddled across to and then changed boards so that G could have a go on the smaller board - which he actually found better suited to him - leaving me trying to spot the occasional Bass jumping out from the shallows chasing sand eels.

After about 90 minutes we decided to head back to the car for the much quicker process of deflating the boards and the longer struggle of getting out of a wet wetsuit - there really is no graceful way to do this - and then a well deserved coffee before heading back home to wash boards and suits and plan the next trip.

Trip log from Garmin Forerunner 910XT - here


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