Rescue services in Australia have issued a safety warning following a string of incidents where paddlers struck trouble taking on conditions beyond their ability.

The most recent saw a paddler winched from the ocean after drifting kilometres off Sydney’s North Head, struggling in the strong offshore winds that combined with a solid groundswell.

“It’s certainly a concern for us and it’s something we’ve been seeing regularly,” Phil Campbell from Marine Rescue NSW told The Paddler.

“Paddlers heading out on a journey without taking enough note of the conditions or their own fitness, tiring very quickly and requiring some assistance.

The Perfect Boat for any Paddler

“It’s easy to use strong winds to travel in one direction, but it may be much more difficult to get back home again.

“So we’re urging anyone who is thinking about going out for a paddle to make sure they’re not just carrying an EPIRB, wearing a PFD and other safety gear, but also carefully checking weather forecasts so that if there’s bad weather on the way, you can get back home in plenty of time.”

Marine Rescue pointed to the rescue of a surfski paddler near Port Hacking, in Sydney’s south, as another example of where a training group underestimated the ocean they were heading into. 

Carrying the correct safety equipment is crucial – but it doesn’t negate the dangers of the open ocean.

The Perfect Boat for any Paddler

“Simply put, you need to make sure that both you and your craft are fit and proper to handle the weather conditions that are being forecast that day.”