Gusto: Seven tips for the Warm Weather Paddler

James Paine at the finish of the Bona Fide
James Paine at the finish of the Bona Fide. (William Paine photo)


For The Patriot

While it’s true that cold weather paddle boarding, canoeing and kayaking excursions can bring much enjoyment, it’s the warmer weather that draws most paddlers to the water.

Here in the mid-Atlantic section of the great Appalachian range, April snows are not uncommon and early May can bring hard freezes, but by the time June rolls around, temps can soar to 90, as happened just this week.

I, for one, do not begrudge the hot weather in the slightest, as I remember well the chill of the not-too-distant past.

To best take advantage of our current atmospheric conditions, I offer 7 Tips for the Warm Weather Paddler.

The first and most obvious tip is to bring something drinkable along for the ride and right before the launch it’s a good idea to chug a can/bottle of water.

Make sure your paddle buddies are stocked with liquids as well. Some paddlers seem to think that because they’re surrounded by water, there’s always plenty to drink but imbibing copious amounts of water directly from your local lake/river/ocean, can bring unwanted complications such as nausea, explosive diarrhea and death … so best to bring your own.

If it’s a long excursion, bring extra water. I recommend fizzy water, which is flavored water without any sweeteners added.

One of the biggest hoaxes ever perpetrated on the American public was to convince us that every sip of liquid that enters our mouths must be sweet to the taste. My friends, this is simply not true! Nothing tastes as sweet as cool, clear water when you’re thirsty.

Tip number 2 involves headgear.

When paddling in the heat, it’s important to wear a hat, preferably one with a wide brim. When paddling in the middle of the lake, or wherever you happen to be, a paddler is exposed to the sun making adequate headgear essential.

A hat provides shade for the head and neck, as well as shielding the paddler from the unexpected rain shower that pops up from time to time.

I wear a white straw cowboy hat when I paddle and that suits my needs well, even though I’ve lost more than one due to heavy winds.

Ah well, the river gods must be given their due from time to time.

The third tip is to cover your body with sunblock before heading out and be sure to bring a little along with you for the ride. As we all know, too much sun hurts and, even after having taken a veritable shower in SPF 70, you may want to reapply after an hour or so of perspiring.

This doesn’t have to be a chore. Just for fun, find someone you don’t know (a tourist at the state park for example) and ask them to spread some sunblock on your sweaty back. They may recoil in horror or you might make a new friend.

Note: if you bring your significant other with you, it’s probably wiser to let them spread the SPF on your bare skin, though this is admittedly a judgement call.

Fourthly, even if you don’t wear a shirt, you should still bring a shirt.

Hey, if it’s above 75 degrees, lots of people will choose to go paddling without a shirt … and why not?

Even so, shirts do provide extra protection from the elements and shirts can also be useful in drying your sweat drenched face and cleaning the lenses on your sweat-stained sunglass lenses.

Shirts are also handy on those occasions where you disembark from your board to mingle with the natives (like at the state park).

You might look good without a shirt and you might not, but remember some people find it unsettling to be in proximity of a semi-naked person utterly soaked in their own salty discharge. So, bring a shirt, if not to wear it, at least dry yourself out of common decency!

Tip number 5 is: Wear shoes when paddle boarding. This bit of advice is unique to the paddle boarding set but wearing shoes on board is key.

The balls of my feet take the biggest beating when paddling on a board for several hours and so not only do I wear shoes but I add insoles to give even more padding for my flat feet.

Tip number 6 is to wear gloves when paddling. This goes for SUP’s, kayakers and canoers. Whatever way you’re making your way through the waves, wearing gloves, with padding added to the inside of the glove, makes for a less traumatic time for the palm of one’s hands.

Tip number seven is: Embrace the moistness.  Warm weather paddling means perspiring at a prolific rate, as mentioned several times above. This is especially true if you kick up the pace to show some kid how much stronger you are than he is … but even if you’re not paddling to win a race, you’re bound to perspire enough to form a couple of sweat beads on your brow, so you might as well embrace the moisture.

If it gets a little too hot above the surface, all that’s needed is to jump in wherever it is you’re dipping your paddle and cool down. That’s the number one warm weather paddling bonus.

Take these seven tips into account when starting out and you’re sure to have a better paddling experience.

Remember, the 5th Annual Gusto Event with GRAPeJAM paddle board race will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday June 25 at the Rock House Marina.

Register for the race at and stay to see the Greater Pulaski Junior Appalachian Musicians (GRAPeJAM) perform after the races.

Thanks again to our sponsors at Glenn Insurance, Interstate Construction, Travis Team Realty, Foothills Chiropractic, Rocky Acres Property Mgmt., Now Then and Forever Collectibles, MOVA Technologies, First Community Bank and the Gilmer, Sadler, Ingram,  Sutherland and Hutton Law Firm.

Until next week, Go for the Gusto!