Stay Safe on Sunrise and Sunset Paddles
Sunrise and sunset paddling is fantastic for many reasons. The views are often spectacular. Many times, the winds are calmer at sunrise and sunset than during the middle of the day, and there are usually fewer motor boats on the water.
There is also something inherently magical about being in nature during these transitory periods between daylight and darkness. There is a stillness and a sense of beginning, or closure that is hard to describe – I am sure most of us have witnessed sunrise or sunset from the beach and felt that magical moment of transition; that somehow, we have witnessed an event that we wish we saw every day. From the water, that powerful moment is magnified many times over. There is a sense of stillness that transcends place and time – we feel aligned with nature. Like we are the sole owners of our little sliver of the natural world.
However, special care should be taken when paddling in low light – either before or after the solar transition. You must have a light on your craft. It is a legal requirement and a smart thing to do. This light is not to guide your way, but rather to let other vessels know your whereabouts. Humans have pretty good night vision, and there is a lot of light available to paddlers. The light marking your vessel will only hinder your navigation, so try placing it directly behind you so that your vision will be in the shadow of the light. Avoid high traffic areas and try to stay fairly close to shore when you can.
And, as always, file a float plan that details when you are heading out, returning, and the area you will be paddling in.
By all means, get out on the water at sunrise or sunset. If you are hesitant to go on your own, we invite you to join the Ocean Tribe Paddlers and let us help you master the dusk and dawn paddle patrols.
Ocean Tribe Paddlers is a club hosted by Sanibel Sea School that helps the SWFL paddling community better explore, enjoy, and understand the ocean. Visit oceantribepaddlers.org or follow us on Facebook to learn more.