How to: Offshore, Solo missions
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of flying above the ocean, miles offshore, with no-one else around. But this feeling of elation can quickly turn to fear and then panic when something goes wrong. So to help you get out there and back safely here’s a few tips from someone who spends a lot of time alone in the ocean.
It might seem obvious but the open ocean is not the place to try out new gear. If you are planning on doing a big solo mission always use gear that’s been tried and tested before. Bladders burst, leashes snap and foils have been known to fall off. Spend time getting to know your gear before you head offshore and make sure you use god quality gear that won’t fail – this is not the place to try that bargain you got off Alibaba.
Always wear a vest. Your board can be a lifesaver but if you break a rib with your foil you won’t be going anywhere, so protect yourself from injury.
Always wear a waist belt. Wrist leashes are fine for most of the time but if you have to paddle back they will make hard work of it.
Never go further out than you are prepared to swim back. Knowing that if things go pear-shaped you can get yourself back to shore with your own steam will give you confidence to go further.
Bring a cellphone or GPS beacon but remember at the end of the day you are on your own and it is up to you, not the Coastguard, to get back to shore safely.
Tell someone when and where you are going out and when you should be back.
Know your location
Have you winged there before? Is there somewhere to get back in if
you end up far downwind? What are the hazards? Is there a strong rip or current that will prevent you from getting back in if the wind dies?
Look for workups and avoid them – that’s where the fish are and where you probably don’t want to be.
And lastly, check the forecast. It may be howling a gale right now
but there might be a change in direction coming or heavy rain that will kill the wind. Know before you go.