1. SAFETY FIRST
From DNREC’s Website…Are you AWARE? DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police reminds paddle boarders – especially those new to the increasingly popular sport – to review Delaware’s boating laws and regulations and how they apply to paddle boards before heading out on the waterways.
In recent years, the sport of paddle boarding has grown immensely in popularity in Delaware. Paddle boarders can often be seen on many of Delaware’s waterways throughout the summertime.
So just what is a paddle board? A paddle board is configured similarly to a surfboard, but is usually longer and thicker than a traditional surfboard. The operator of a paddle board stands upright on the board and propels it through the water by using a long paddle.
The United States Coast Guard and the state of Delaware recognize a paddle board as a vessel when operated outside the confines of a surfing or swimming area. Therefore, many of the same requirements for personal flotation devices, visual distress signals, sound producing devices and the use of a navigational light after sunset apply when paddle boards are operated in Delaware waters.
A paddle board less than 16 feet in length must meet the following safety equipment requirements when operated in Delaware waters:
- All paddle boarders must have a United States Coast Guard-approved life jacket on board.
- Any child age 12 and younger must wear a USCG-approved life jacket at all times while on a paddle board.
- Paddle boarders must carry a whistle or horn, or some other sounding device capable of making an efficient sound signal.
- When operating between the hours of sunset and sunrise, paddle boarders must carry a visual distress signal – an electric distress light or flares – suitable for night use. This applies to all boards operated on coastal waters and directly-connected waters (bays, sounds, harbors, rivers, inlets, etc.) which are two miles wide or wider.
- When operating between the hours of sunset and sunrise, a paddle boarder also must have an electric torch or lighted lantern showing a white light ready at hand for use as a navigation light, which must be exhibited in sufficient time to prevent collision.
Paddle boards longer than 16 feet may have additional safety requirements.
For more information on safe boating practices in Delaware, including more details on life jackets and other safety equipment, please visitwww.dnrec.delaware.gov/Delaware_Boating_Safety.
2 Do we have to have a guide or can we just rent paddle boards and go on our own? If you are an experienced paddle boarder (intermediate to advanced) and at least 18 years old, we’ll help get you launched to make recommendations on safe locations for paddle boarding. Children under 12-17 can go along only if they have a parent or guardian along. A guide is required for kids under 12. You should definitely take a phone with you in case of an emergency. We offer cell phone DryPaks for $15.99. We do have a $50 rescue fee. Rental Rates
3. Can I rent a paddle board or kayak and take it with me? Yes you can. We offer daily, multi-day and weekly rentals. Prior reservations are a highly suggested. If you have the means of transporting gear safely, you can pick it up at our shop in Rehoboth Beach or we can deliver gear to you locally for a onetime $25 delivery fee. In season, we deliver in the morning on our way in and in the evening on our way home. Most of our gear and vehicles are deployed each morning for excursions so we may not be able to deliver gear mid-day. Rental Rates
4. What happens if the weather gets in the way of our scheduled paddle board adventure? Not a problem! We will make all attempts at rescheduling. If this is not possible, a full refund with be granted. We monitor the weather continually and will make all attempts to contact you on your cell phone if weather prohibits a paddle board launch or causes us to move to a more sheltered venue (i.e. wind). If we need to reschedule due to weather, we will contact you. If we do not contact you, assume your excursion is still on. If the weather becomes unstable during an excursion, our guides reserve the right (and we have a responsibility) to end the excursion early for safety purposes. If the excursion was not 100% completed, we can issue a credit for the unused portion. We do not issue refunds in the case of an excursion being 50% or more completed.
5. What is your cancellation policy? We require 24 hours notice to cancel. In that case, we will refund your money 100%. If you don’t give us 24 hours notice, we cannot refund the money; but can provide a credit slip for future use. We feel this is fair.
6. What if I fall in? On average, less than 10% of paddle boarders fall in. The small percentage of folks who do fall in find it’s not that bad and quite exhilarating. In many paddle boarding areas, the water is only 2-4 feet deep. Most people just walk or swim over to their board and crawl back on. A guide will paddle over to assist if you need help. You’ll have a life vest too!
7. What if I can’t swim? All participants must know how to swim to paddle board with us. If you cannot swim, we’re sorry, but you can NOT go paddle boarding with us. This is an insurance requirement.
8. Do I need experience to paddle board? NO, most of our customers are first timers! We cater to families and beginners and provide a lesson with all guided excursions. You should, however, be physically able to get to a standing position from your hands and knees and you should not have any balance issues.
9. What if I want to take a board in the ocean? We do not suggest beginners go paddle boarding in the ocean. If you do want to rent a board and go in the ocean, please let us know so we can provide you with a leash. Be sure to follow Coast Guard regulations for paddle boarding and double check with your local life guards to understand the rules and regulations before you rent a board. Each town may have a different set of rules and regs. Some beaches do not allow paddle boarding during guarded hours.
10. When is the best time to go paddle boarding? Normally morning and evening have the least amount of wind. Those are great times for paddle boarding. Sometimes in the afternoon, thermal winds pick up. In those cases, we offer a downwind adventure for smaller groups.
11. How old must a child be to go paddle boarding? As a guideline, we suggest age 8. However, we’ve had 6 year olds master paddle boarding and we’ve had 12 year olds who did not have enough coordination to paddle. Children must understand left from right and they must be able to follow directions such as “paddle right” or “back paddle left”. We work with parents using common sense and make a decision based on the venue, weather conditions, amount of PWC traffic on the water and the parent’s knowledge of their child’s abilities. The child must know how to swim and they must have arm strength to pull a paddle through the water. They must also have enough coordination to maneuver the paddle for steering purposes. Please make sure children are fed and hydrated before bringing them on an excursion.
12. Can my child ride along with me on my board? That’s a balancing act and you may not be able to keep up with the rest of the group. We do allow children under the age of 8 to ride along with a skilled adult paddle boarder only if the child knows how to swim. Children must wear life vests. No exceptions. Please be advised, if your child falls in, you could become separated from your child if there is wind or current. It is advisable to do this only at a kid friendly venue on a non-windy day; such as the Bethany Canal.
13. Is there anything I need to do to prepare for my paddle boarding adventure? Yes! Do not over indulge in alcohol the night before. Eat breakfast, then come fully hydrated, bring a towel and a change of clothes in case you get wet. Wear sunscreen and shades. We suggest safety straps for your sunglasses. Some venue are wooded and you may consider bug spray.
14. Must I wear water shoes? Most people prefer paddle boarding bare foot, but you can wear water shoes if you’d like. We cannot, however, be responsible for anything in the water that you may step on. When in doubt, use common sense.
15. Where can I get my own paddle board? We sell paddle boards at our water front shop in Fenwick and our showroom in Rehoboth Beach – TAX FREE; where you can try before you buy. We also allow rental credit to be applied toward the purchase of a paddle board up to $50 (within 30 days) so your investment in rentals and tours is not a sunken cost.
16. Is parking FREE? Parking if Free at our Harpoon Hanna’s, the Bethany Canal and Arnell Creek. Inside the Delaware State Parks, there are parking fees of $4 for in-state tags and $8 for out of state tags. The Delaware State Park locations do provide bathroom facilities
17. I have a bad knee or bad back. Can I still go paddle boarding? When in doubt, check with your doctor. You must sign a Declaration of Fitness Waiver. All paddle boarders start on their knees so you must be in adequate physical shape to kneel on your knees and then go to a standing position from your knees. You must also be in good enough physical condition to be able to heave yourself back up on a paddle board in case you fall off in water over your head.
18. What is an appropriate tip for my guide? Tipping etiquette is the same as in the restaurant or any service industry. 15%-20% is the norm if you feel you received great service. Guides are there to keep you safe and give you and your family a great time and they work super hard for you. If for any reason you don’t feel your guide was tip worthy, please let us know what we can do to improve.
19. What is the weight limit? We have boards that will float the following types of riders.