Without a doubt, one of the most fun watersports along the East Coast of the United States is paddleboarding. However, the coastal waters of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia have an abundance of oysters. I routinely paddle within close proximity of oyster beds but do so in away to avoid damaging a paddleboard. Learn how to enjoy the beauty of oyster beds while preventing damage to your valuable board. 

Paddle In Deep Water

One of the easiest ways to avoid damage to a paddleboard is to avoid trouble all together. With that said, steer clear of shallow waters that may be home to beds of oysters. You wont have to worry about making contact with the bottom if your in more than 8” of water. 

Furthermore, staying in deep water away from the shoreline is also a preventative measure to keep the board free of nicks on the sides or the top of the paddleboard. 

Wear A Board Leash

I’ll be the first to admit that I have fallen off of my paddleboard plenty of times in either calm or choppy waters. Without a leash, the board has a tendency to go flying over extended distances.

As you can imagine, a board without a leash can be launched into solid objects such as oyster beds. Not only will it cause damage to the board landing on the oysters, but also being removed from the shells. For this reason, you should wear a leash to keep the paddleboard within a few feet of falling. 

Know The Waters You’re Paddleboarding In

No doubt about it, local knowledge is highly beneficial to prevent dings and scratches to a hard board or by popping an inflatable

I typically paddleboard in the same areas around my home and, for this reason, know exactly where each oyster bed is located. 

One of the best ways to prevent damage to a board is to take a glance at the waters before heading out paddling. Local knowledge is number one when it comes to keeping your board in tip-top shape. 

Review A Chart

As a captain, I utilized charts on a consistent basis for route planning. However, they can be helpful if you’re scoping out a new area to enjoy paddleboarding. 

Locating oyster beds on a chart is simple by searching for the abbreviation Oys. Importantly, significant sized beds will be marked but small beds will not. 

Lastly, you can’t rely solely on a chart to determine the positioning of oyster beds. The chart will not provide an exact location, the size of the bed, and the number of adjacent beds in the area. 

Look At The Waters Ahead

Keeping your eyes on the waters ahead will help prevent you from running into oyster beds that are either above or below the surface. 

No question about it, we get distracted when we are paddle boarding because of the vast scenery that surrounds us. 

Despite the beauty, make sure to stay on a sharp lookout for objects in your path as you paddle through the water. Don’t run aground on an oyster bed because you were not paying attention. Importantly, if you’re on an inflatable board, you’re likely to pop the board. 

Read A Tide Chart

Tide charts are one of the most helpful resources for determining the direction of water flow and depth. 

It should be noted that tides vary based on locations. In some areas, the difference between high and low is minimal versus other areas. Paddling a board is more challenging in areas with a big tidal change versus a small tidal change. 

In areas where water flows in or out, you are more likely to lose control of the board as a result of the flow of water. Don’t get out of position and run aground on oyster beds because you didn’t pay attention to the hight of the tide or the direction of the flow. 

Avoid Oyster Beds Altogether

As a captain and paddleboarder, I can tell you with certainty that you are better off avoiding damaging your board compared to letting it become unsightly. 

In the event that you see oysters in your pathway I recommend steering clear. For the most part, you can identify oyster beds off in the distance. Don’t take a chance of coming in contact with beds because of the damage they can inflict. 

Damaging A Paddleboard Can Be Avoided

Look, you can certainly avoid damaging a paddleboard by being prepared in advance or by maintaining a sharp lookout. I have popped an inflatable because of a poor decision. Don’t throw money away on repairs or replacements.