Getting on the water safely

A Guide to Social & Physical Distancing for Paddlers

It's days and weeks like these that remind us of the strength, compassion, and perseverance of our communities. It's also in these moments that we remember why we, at Pelican, took to paddling in the first place. When we just need to get away from it all – from the news, our screens, our anxieties – we seek renewal of mind, body, and spirit in Nature through paddling. Now more than ever, as social distancing becomes part of our everyday lives, we look to the water to maintain our sense of peace. However, with a list of restrictions that seem to grow every day, even endeavoring to go for a paddle can be confusing. We've been asked a lot about our take on the matter, so we've put together a quick guide to social distancing for us paddlers to help navigate in this time of uncertainty.

Covid-19 Safety First

Safety First

First and foremost, always make sure you're entirely up to date on all instructions, regulations, and restrictions from international, national, and local authorities. These limitations may include travel, social togetherness, and access closures, to state a few. While waterways may be open, many facilities are now closed or closing, including public restrooms, visitor centers, and public campgrounds. Please make sure you plan accordingly. An excellent place to start would be by reviewing our Resources links below before embarking on any paddling trip. Even if everything looks free and clear, please consider the best interest of public health before venturing out.

Covid-19 Keep it Simple

Keep It Simple

The allure of paddling has always been in part to its simplicity. It's so easy to experience that unique feeling of being on the water. We step outside, load up our kayaks [or boards], and head towards those sacred places where we can feel free and at ease, one paddle stroke at a time. The good news is, it's still easy to get out and go paddling! In light of the times, we recommend simplifying even more. Choose trips that are a little closer to home to avoid the need to make stops where you may encounter more people. Also, given the rapid growth and gravity of the situation, we are only recommending paddling solo or as a household family.

Covid-19 Paddling Slol

Paddling Solo

Paddling alone is the best way to practice social distancing; however, there are still associated risks and it is typically not recommended. Remember, It is never advised to set out on a river trip alone – whether calm or whitewater – and, should you choose to paddle by yourself, you should always paddle within range of your own ability. Please review our full list of considerations below for all paddling trips.

Covid-19 Family Paddling

Family Paddling

When thinking about "group" paddling, a family trip should be the first and only choice as it's still OK to be near family members with whom you have already been in close contact with inside your household (but only those family members that you are currently living with). A family that lives together can still paddle together! Even so, there are still some social considerations to make before loading up and heading out in the family caravan.


Before embarking on a Solo or Family paddle trip, please review the nonexhaustive list below to ensure the safety of yourself and those around you in these challenging new times.

  • Abide by all instructions, regulations, and restrictions from international, national, and local authorities.
  • Keep travel distances short.
  • Keep your distance (6 feet) from others on and off the water.
  • Avoid crowds and take turns at put-ins and take-outs.
  • Plan your route appropriately and be mindful of conditions, weather, etc.
  • Bring and wear the appropriate safety gear and clothing.
  • Bring a charged cell phone or communication device.
  • Inform someone where you're going and when you plan to return.
  • Upon returning, make sure to clean gear, clothes, and yourselves.

Keep Calm & Paddle On

As we move forward together, remember to exhale and renew yourself with the energy of Water and Nature. Stay calm and paddle on; we'll see you out there (from a distance).

Elbow bump.

The Pelican Team

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