Paddling: the Perfect Social Distance Sport

Social Distance Small

If you're going a little crazy trying to survive sheltering-in-place, there is good news. Most cities' rules do allow outdoor exercise so long as you practice social distancing. And the better news is that paddling, while not included on the official list of approved activities, is the perfect social distance sport. Once in your kayak or canoe, or even SUP, it is actually difficult to get too close to someone else while paddling, unless you are in a tandem boat or rafting up with someone.  The length of the boat and the paddle helps to create that 6 foot distance with very little effort from you.  That said, there are some safety precautions you should take before escaping to the water.

Going Solo:

There is no doubt that paddling alone is the easiest way to make sure you are social distancing while enjoying your paddle trip. But it also means you do not have a paddle buddy to help you if something goes wrong. So before you launch, take a few precautions.

File a Float Plan. Make sure someone knows where you are going and when you plan to return. Arrange to call that person when you are launching and again when you take out.

Bring safety equipment. Of course, wearing your PFD at all times on the water should go without saying, but you should also make sure you have a signaling device (whistle, flare, air horn, working cell phone in waterproof container, mirror), as well as water, snack, and a knife. A first aid kit is also good to have included with your regular paddling gear.

Avoid dangerous waters.  First responders have enough to do right now and you do not want to add to their list. So when paddling alone avoid dangerous situations. Check the water levels on our website: Avoid high water, whitewater, or dangerous areas like spillways and dams where you could get into trouble.

When you are done, post your trip on the Trinity Coalition Facebook Page or Trinity River paddle Trail Association page

Paddling in Groups:

Paddling in small groups of friends, or with family can improve safety on the water so long as you follow social distancing protocols. But keep the groups small, less than 10 people. Paddling can give you a chance to reconnect while still social distancing and enjoying nature.

Only touch your own gear. We know gear sharing is a normal part of paddling. But for now—don’t. If you have to help each other carry boats to the water, be certain to wipe off the boat handles with a disinfecting wipe before and after you carry it, or wear gloves. If you don’t have wipes or gloves, make sure you carry the same boat the same way going in and out to be sure you are the only person that touched it.

Stay six feet apart on land. This is the hardest part of a group paddle since we routinely help each other in and out of boats. Try to limit your group and trip locations so that paddlers can get themselves in and out of their boats and launch without needing up close and personal help.

Stay six feet apart in the water. This is pretty easy since most boats and paddles are more than 6 feet long. As long as you are a full paddle or half boat distance away from other paddlers, you are good. Just remember to allow space when going through narrow areas or launching and landing.

Keep your water and snacks to yourself. Part of traditional paddling hospitality usually includes sharing snacks and even drinks. Avoid sharing or touching anything that you did not bring with you.

Stay safe. Always wear your PFD. Dress for the water temperature and conditions. Take your safety equipment and signaling device. When on a river always check the water levels. For the Trinity River  go to: .

When you are done, post your trip on the Trinity Coalition Facebook Page or Trinity River paddle Trail Association page