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Training and inspiration for a multi-day paddleboarding trip

Updated: Jun 14, 2023

Photo: VIMA Photography

For the multi-day paddleboarding trip I am planning for in Finland in July 2023, I am undergoing as much paddle training as possible.

I am also attending webinars about paddling in different countries and speaking to people who have done it before, including Adventure Queens mentors Gee and Kate.

I've got my new touring board from Red, and now it's time to get on with some practice SUPs.

Training Courses

Foundation Safety and Rescue Training

Being in different places and on different waters means I need to know as much about water safety as possible. So I enrolled onto a Foundation Safety and Rescue Training (FSRT) at The River Stour Trust Centre with Paddlesports Coaching. (From January 2023, the Foundation Safety and Rescue Training is now replaced by the new Paddlesport Safety and Rescue course).

This British Canoeing course empowered me with skills to rescue and safely manage common emergency situations in a sheltered water environment. I gained confidence in self rescues and rescuing others. This award is all about keeping safe on sheltered water venues, equipping paddlers with a range of rescue skills so they can deal with any scenarios which may occur while on the water. See my blog post about it here: Paddlesports training - Foundation Safety and Rescue Training (

Nottage/Trinity House River Users course

In April 2023 I attended a 6-hour training course at The Nottage, a local maritime museum located on Wivenhoe Quay; Nottage/Trinity House River Users course. The Nottage Maritime Institute is a Registered Charity, established in 1896, and The Nottage runs a variety of courses throughout the year with a nautical flavour.

Thanks to the support of Trinity House, the fee for this full day course was only £10. It was aimed at all new river users, including canoers and kayakers, gig rowers, stand-up paddleboarders, wild swimmers and more.

The syllabus offered elements useful to anyone who is new to going afloat on the river for pleasure, including personal safety afloat, lifejackets and buoyancy aids, emergency equipment, weather, tidal streams and range and more. I found the course really helpful.

British Canoeing Coastal Navigation and Tidal Planning Course

I also booked onto the British Canoeing Coastal Navigation and Tidal Planning course (CNTP) through With Dave. I signed up for the course to have a better understanding of tides and the sea, as well as navigation. This will be so helpful for me as a swimmer as well a paddleboarder.

The course is a safety course for anyone paddling any craft on the sea in a moderate sea environment. I learned to plan a safe effective trip in a tidal environment with tidal flow up to 2 knots and winds up to force 4.

This online course is really helpful for when I am paddling solo on the open sea in a foreign country.


After my river users course with the Nottage, I decided to purchase a detailed topographic map, and I found an admiralty nautical chart from Stanfords.

The British Canoeing course was also really helpful in helping me to understand the chart. The session on maps and charts was super helpful as I’ve been looking at my massive nautical chart and not really knowing where to start. But now I feel much more confident that I can take a bearing on a compass, plan a trip and measure distances and grid references on a chart and map. Vital for my Finland adventure.

I am also hiring a Garmin Etrex 20 GPS from the local outfitter for the duration of the trip, but a chart is a good idea to have just in case. The Garmin is waterproof to IPX7 standard and lasts up to 25 hours on 2 AA batteries. It allows for mapping for marine, outdoor or road use. With its high-sensitivity, EGNOS-enabled GPS receiver and HotFix® satellite prediction, eTrex locates your position quickly and precisely and maintains its GPS location even in heavy cover and deep canyons.

Practice SUPs

I bought my new touring board, a Red Voyager 12' 6", in April and have been having lots of fun trying it out on the water.

When planning a SUP expedition, it’s always a great idea to do trial runs with gear to make sure the logistics of planning go accordingly. Test runs are extremely important in helping you figure out what you really need, what you can leave behind, whether or not you’re bringing too much, if you have spare space on your SUP to carry more, you get the picture. Test runs also allow you to test out your gear like your water filtration and GPS systems to make sure they are in working order before you leave allowing you time to fix any problems that arise.

Before embarking on such a challenge I wanted to do some practice SUPs and camping trips.

So I spent a night alone at the end of May camping at Peggy's Pasture Campsite in Norfolk. I went for a paddle here on the River Wensum and tested out all my kit. Little things like remembering a mallet for tent pegs are now on my kit list!

I also went for a paddle with a fully loaded board to see what it was like paddling with it on the River Stour in Suffolk. This went well and I feel more confident packing the board with bungee straps.

I also recently practised self-rescue on the sea which was helpful for reassuring me that I can get back on the board on waves, if I need to. I had a little paddle as well on the waves, with the kit to see how the board handles. I still have more plans to practise before going on the trip as well.

Inspirational People

  • I became inspired by the Adventure Queens, particularly speaking to Kate and Gee - my mentor (right). I also spoke to my Adventure Queens mentor Gee at the show, which was so helpful. She helped me with kit and thinking about things I hadn't even considered. She is a hugely talented person who has done a lot of active adventures, so it was great to meet up with her in person.

  • Following people like Jen (@sup_erjen), Shilpa (@sup.loving.shilpa) and Sarah (@plussizepaddler) was inspiring to see that ordinary women could do epic long paddles. I also loved Fiona Quinn's book Ignore the Fear. Fiona set out to see if she could stand up paddleboard up the west coast of Britain, 800 miles from Land’s End to John O’Groats (LEJOG).

I had a chat with Ricky from East Coast Adventures who gave me some advice about lightweight tents and camping stoves. He kindly let me try one of his Red Voyager 12’ 6” Voyager MSL paddle boards, which inspired me to get one. I met up with one of his instructors Amanda in April for a go on the board and really liked it, it is very stable. Amanda gave me some great advice about stance and paddling into the wind, as well as ideas about kit.

  • In February I listened to a talk by John 'SUP The World' McFadzean organised by East of England Paddlesports. John is on a lifetime quest to stand up paddle in every country of the world. John talked about how to ignore the demons in your own mind, how to push yourself further each time and how to step up towards longer distance paddling. This was really interesting and I follow his adventures on social media.

  • I also signed up for several British Canoeing International webinars, including: Paddling in Norway and Paddling in Nepal. During 2023, BCAB will be sharing a range of webinars aimed at those looking to paddle overseas or exploring places to paddle.

  • In March I attended the National Outdoor Expo as an Ambassador, and was keen to catch up with Jo Moseley, author of bestselling Stand Up Paddleboarding in Great Britain – Beautiful Places to Paddleboard in England, Scotland and Wales.

Jo contacted me to congratulate me on the AQ Grant and kindly published a small piece about my paddleboarding adventure in her Stand Up Paddle Mag UK column.

In 2019 Jo, then aged 54, was the first woman to SUP coast to coast picking up litter and fundraising for 2 MinuteBeachClean Foundation and the surf therapy charity, The Wave Project. She is also the host of the popular The Joy of SUP – the Paddleboarding Sunshine podcast.

At the National Outdoor Expo I found the talk by @SUP_lass very inspiring, You've bought a SUP board, you've got the skills, so what's next? I had a quick chat with Caz afterwards about my adventure and the best board to take.

I also went along to the British Canoeing talk about paddle adventures, but found that tailored a bit more towards paddling with children.

  • I was also inspired by adventurer Cal Major's films; Scotland: Ocean Nation which is available to stream for free on STV Player. It’s a 3-part series following her 800-mile SUP expedition around Scotland’s wild and dramatic coast, exploring our human connection to the ocean and its role in all of our lives, and in the climate and biodiversity crises. I loved the stunning scenery and talk about reconnecting people to blue spaces to help with mental health.

  • John Reynolds Soft Tissue Therapy, functional movement and rehabilitation expert, has been helping me with my sciatica pain and with strength and conditioning exercises to get me adventure-fit.

  • The three winners of the Grant are being generously supported by the wonderful folks at Eddie Bauer, Komoot, Osprey, and Adventurous Ink. I can't thank them enough for their generosity.

Blog posts about Finland

See blog posts here about the trip.

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