7 Tips for Keeping a Paddling Biz Open in Winter

Most paddling and surfing shops here in the Pacific NW have either shut down for the winter or are on limited hours.  Now that its getting dark at 5pm, it's impossible to hold evening classes. But when there is daylight, many experienced paddlers are still going.  Seeing this a few years ago I realized I may be able to convince my students to continue their paddling 'season' throughout the year.  I have to do a lot of convincing but when they see the light per se, they're hooked on off season paddling.  Obviously if you're in some places in North America or otherwise, frozen lakes and rivers will prevent from any water time!

Here's a few tips to getting folks paddling in winter.  

- Convince folks that paddling from your local waters in winter is as fun as going skiing.  I love skiing but here it's over $100 per trip these days, a 2-4 hour one way drive and just as cold and wet as paddling.  Infact you wear more clothing to ski.  No lines to get to the beach.

- Last year I had a few folks out thanks to a poor ski season.  But since I didn't have super warm booties I lost a few who got cold.  Very important to have toasty wetsuits (or drysuits), booties, gloves and hoods.  A vest style PFD builds core temps. Get suits that are 5/4mm, 5/4/3, 7mm booties, fleece lined gloves and hoods. If you're from Hawaii you'll think we're crazy. I say, if you're not surfing, no matter where you are - you're crazy. Read my article on how to choose a wetsuit.

- Keep a 1-2 gallon container of hot water in your car to pour over you and friends when done.

- Provide foam camping pads to stand on in the parking lot when changing or hanging out.  I cut up old camping pads.

- Scout out a great pub or cafe to visit after your paddle for a beer and/or hot soup, etc.

- Provide indoor pool paddling sessions - yoga, basics, rescue practice.

- Offer winter season sports in addition to paddling - surfing, wind sports and yes, snow ports.

Read my article on 30 Tips for Cold Weather Paddling in SUP Magazine, 2010