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How to stay safe on the water

Safety message: Exploring the waves on a paddle board or kayak can bring us tons of thrill and excitement, but let's remember the hidden dangers lurking within the water. It's always wise to prioritise safety when indulging in these water activities to enjoy our adventures with peace of mind.

As exhilarating as it can be to hop on your first iSUP or Kayak, it's important to prioritise safety before taking the plunge:


• Reachability: Can you easily reach for help if something goes wrong?

• Dress code: Are you rocking the proper attire for the conditions?

• Forecast: Have you verified the tide and weather forecast?

• Buoyancy aid: Are you equipped with a suitable floatation device?

• Experience: Do you have the skills and experience required for the conditions?

• Buddy system: Have you informed someone of your paddling agenda?

VAST ISUP on the water


• Keep your precious phone safe in the VAST Waterproof Pouch.

• In an emergency, call for Coastguard assistance. They're there to help.

• For weak phone signal, preregister so you can text 999 or 112.

• Download helpful apps like RYA, ISA Safetrx or What3Words for trip safety and location tracking.

• Don't forget to bring your Waterproof DSC VHF to stay connected and secure.


  • Keep your trusty Waterproof DSC VHF within arm's reach, such as in your handy Buoyancy Aid Pocket. 

  • Invest in a DSC-equipped radio. Why? It's simple; this cutting-edge device can send a recognised emergency signal and automatically transmit your exact location. Remember, the requirements may include obtaining an operator's licence and a ship's radio licence. Both are free in the UK. 

ISUP In Cardiff Bay
ISUP Paddleboard


  • Keep your PLB within arm's reach, such as in your handy Buoyancy Aid Pocket. 

  • Your PLB can be manually activated to call for help and should be registered with the Coastguard. 

  • Be cautious when handling these items, as they may not stay afloat. Stay safe and keep an eye out when using non-buoyant objects.

Man on VAST Paddle board


Don't paddle off into the unknown. Ensure someone knows your plan before you set off, where you're starting, heading, and how long you'll be out. And why not make it a social adventure by finding a paddling group to join? Check out South Wales Paddle Boarders and paddle in safety with others. 


Make sure you've got the right gear, like a wetsuit or drysuit, and layer up if needed. Remember to bring a way to stay connected in case of emergencies. And when you're paddleboarding, it's always a good idea to wear your leash. Top it off with sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun. 


Develop Your Water Skills. Seek out accredited water sports centres and schools across the UK and Ireland, where qualified instructors will guide you through proper paddling techniques and lifesaving skills. Look for programs that offer qualifications through British Canoeing or Irish Canoeing Coaches to ensure you're in good hands.


Always take some time to prepare before you head out for a paddle. Check the weather and tide levels with UKHO Easytide to ensure you're aware of the conditions you'll be facing. Remember to watch wind strength, especially if you'll be paddling offshore. Stick to life-guarded beaches for your coastal paddles, and if you're venturing further, make sure you seek expert local knowledge. 




Please don't take risks when it comes to water sports. Invest in the right buoyancy aid to safeguard your life. Only settle for a well-fitted and activity-specific buoyancy aid in top-notch condition. We highly recommend working with a reputable water sports retailer to select the right gear and understand size and weight requirements. Remember, your buoyancy aid should fit snugly and stay in place during activity. If it moves around, it's time to try a different size or design. Plus, if you're paddle boarding, some fantastic waist belt floatation devices can be a lifesaver under certain conditions. But please, don't put yourself at risk. 

Buoyancy Aid_VAST


1. Press Chanel 16 button

2. Activated DSC alert if fitted

3. Press and hold Transmit button and say:
Mayday, Mayday, Mayday This is....[your name 3 times] Callsign...MMSI... Mayday, [your name] Callsign....MMSI

4. My position is..[describe position and give

coordinates if possible]

5. We are...[describe the nature of the distress,

the assistance required, number of people and type of craft]

6. Say Over and wait for a response

7. If no response, repeat the process.

Night Time Paddleboarding
Blue ISUP and Paddle


1. Call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.

2. Follow the instructions given by the Operator.

3. Whilst you are waiting for help, ensure you stay with your craft, it can be an excellent floatation device.

4. If you can get your body even partially out of the water, it will significantly improve your survival time.

This information has been compiled with aid from the RNLI Paddling Guidance and British Canoeing website.

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