Wind vs. SUP
Weather, and particularly wind, can be unpredictable in SW Florida. The last thing a paddler wants while on the water is a change of wind direction or speed, but you should always be prepared. You never want to exhaust yourself by fighting the wind if you don’t have to, so one of the most important techniques to learn as a stand up paddler is how to lay down and paddle against the wind, surfer-style.
If the wind picks up, and you can no longer move forward, lay down, put the paddle under your chest, and paddle with your hands using alternate strokes - left then right. This method is similar to swimming freestyle, and should decrease wind resistance enough to help you move slowly towards your destination.
An alternative option is to get down on your knees, paddling your board like you would a canoe. Bring your hands down the paddle, so they're much lower than you’re used to. Then, use your normal paddling technique in this modified position.
The most dangerous wind that SW Florida paddlers might face is the offshore variety, blowing from the shore to the Gulf. If you get caught in a strong offshore wind, and are getting pushed farther away from the beach than you want to be, get as low as you can on the board and paddle back in. Do whatever you can to avoid becoming a human sail.
Ocean Tribe Outfitters is a branch of Sanibel Sea School that helps the local paddling community better explore, enjoy, and understand the ocean. Visit oceantribeoutfitters.org or follow us on Facebook to learn more.