Here are two good reasons for keeping an inflatable paddle board on the deck of your sailboat if you are a cruiser.
- Paddle boards help you repair your boat when you are out to sea. We ran into a sea spider, a tangled mass of nylon line that wrapped itself around our propeller. We were motoring from Wardrick Wells to Staniel Cay, admittedly in fairly shallow water (about 20 feet) and relatively calm seas. Still, diving on your prop in the middle when you’re out to sea is not the easiest thing to do, especially when your dinghy is tied up to the davits and you can’t put down the sea ladder. It was easy to get into the water, but not so easy to get back on the boat, even with a boarding ladder on the side. Solution: put the paddle board in the water, just below the boarding ladder. This provided a platform for the tools Ryan needed (a line cutter and a heavy duty wrench) to clear the propeller, and also an easy step back on board.
- Paddle boards help you tie up to mooring balls. I dropped our boat hook overboard while trying to pick up a mooring ball that did not have the usual float for the line that you pull on board and fasten around your cleats. Instead of pulling on that line, I hooked the line attached to the heavy cement block on the bottom, the weight of which dragged the boat hook out of my hands. Twenty-knot winds and waves quickly carried the boat hook into shallow waters that we couldn’t possibly navigate without running aground. As Ryan laconically observed while we watched it drifting further and further away from us, “a boat hook is a fairly important piece of boat equipment.” Yes, indeed, and there it was, way over there. What to do? Paddle board to the rescue! I threw the board into the water (after making sure that the painter was attached to the boat of course), got aboard, and paddled after the hook. After retrieving it, I muscled my way, upwind and up currant, of course, to the mooring ball, pulled the line out of the water (it was simply drifting!! with no float!!) and held on valiantly, standing tall on my board, like Alvid the Norwegian Pirate queen, while Ryan maneuvered the boat over to my side. Even had I not dropped the hook overboard, we would have had to put the board in the water. Sure, we could have dropped the dinghy, but then we would have had to anchor first, which is sort of stupid when you’re trying to tie up to a mooring ball. The paddle board was much easier, simpler, and faster. Efficient!