I love wakeboarding. I look forward to the biggest wakes as they are more fun and they allow me to try new tricks. Sometimes the local lake is so crowded that you may wish there was a place you would go and have fun without all those people.
The ocean is big enough, but can you wakeboard there? Is it safe to bring your boat in the ocean?
Can You Wakeboard In The Ocean?
Yes, you can wakeboard in the ocean. It is riskier to wakeboard in the ocean than in the lake as the ocean is deeper, the water is colder, and there might be some rough currents. When wakeboarding in the ocean, you need more safety equipment and safety gear to avoid drowning.
Whether you are a beginner or a pro wakeboarder, there is a lot you need to know before you head into the ocean. Read on.
How is Wakeboarding in the Ocean Better than in the Lake?
You will have as much as fun as you need wakeboarding in the lake, but you can enjoy more in the ocean. You will be more buoyant on saltwater, so you do not have a chance of sinking even if you have a small wakeboard. The fact that you are more buoyant means that beginners will have easy time learning (but the ocean is not so friendly for beginners as we will see later).
Your boat will produce bigger wakes in the ocean. This is especially ideal when you need to perform tricks and have more fun.
Even better, the ocean is never crowded. You can go deep into the ocean as you want and have fun without coming across other wakeboarders or boaters. Although going deep into the ocean with a wakeboarding boat is not recommended, you will still have so much fun away from a small lake.
If you have a large enough boat that can withstand salty water, you can even bring your golden retriever and have fun.
What are the Dangers of Wakeboarding in the Ocean?
The ocean might have better wakes, but it has several dangers that a wakeboarder should be aware of. Unlike the ocean, the lake is calmer, so the ride is smoother. If you are learning how to wakeboard, smoothness of rides in the lake will offer you a nice learning platform while the roughness of the ocean can be a danger to you.
I recommend the ocean only for experienced wakeboarders who can handle its roughness. Some of the dangers you will experience in the ocean include:
Currents claim several lives in the ocean every year. The rip currents near the beach claim up to 100 lives every year. The tidal and rip currents are dangerous, especially if you bring a small boat in the ocean. If you are not experienced in wakeboarding, even small currents will be very dangerous for you.
You can ensure you are safe from currents by checking current tables before you head out. Knowing where the currents will be can help you choose a route where the waters are calm.
Ocean water is cold. The temperature of the water is between 7 and 12 degrees Celsius in most parts. As such, there is a risk that you may be hypothermic after wakeboarding in the water. Hypothermia is a condition where the core body temperature drops because you are losing heat more than you can generate. It may lead to reduced brain function and your organs may fail if you are exposed to it for a long time.
Submerged Rocks and Traffic Hazards
When the tides rise up, the rocky shelves are hidden, but on low tide, these rocky shelves may come back up. These rocks may only be under the surface of the water, and you can drive over them causing damage to your wakeboarding boat. The surface of the ocean will also be very rough.
Wakeboarding in the ocean also means you have to bring your boat in the ocean and pass through several hazards. These include ferry lanes, float plane runways, and marina entrances among others. You also need to learn the designated traffic patterns in harbors.
To ensure that you are safe, you need to bring an experienced captain. Someone experienced in boating in the ocean will know how to read unusual wave patterns and help you escape them. There are markers that the captain can check to understand how shallow the water is.
Bad weather is a problem when you wakeboard in the ocean. The winds are strong, and they will make it challenging for you to keep your balance. Another problem is fog. Visibility becomes limited in some seasons that you cannot wakeboard at all.
You will need to ensure that you can see the shoreline at all times. If the fog is too much and you can barely see a few meters, you need to head back to the harbor and try wakeboarding another day.
The storms can get very dangerous in the ocean. If you see signs of a storm, you need to stop wakeboarding and head back to the shore. You can avoid all these problems by reading the weather chats before you head in to the ocean.
You also need to ensure your boat has sufficient lighting so that other boaters can see you when it gets foggy.
Sharks and Other Marine Wildlife
Sharks do not attack people on normal occasions. They stay away from boats and only come close if they detect blood or if there are fish where your boat is. You need to stay at least 200 meters away from any marine animal you see to be safe.
Some dangerous marine animals include killer whales, sea lion rookeries, sharks, and bull elephant seals. In the lake, you risk facing a gator, so you can take the same risk and wakeboard in the ocean. If you do not disturb the wildlife, you are safe.
There are other smaller animals in the ocean that can sting you and some poison you. These include jellyfish and stingrays.
Beware of Dehydration
There is so much water in the ocean, but you cannot take that water. If you go wakeboarding deep in the ocean, you need to bring your own clean water. Otherwise, you may have problems out there.
How Can You Wakeboard Safely in the Ocean?
If you take all the needed safety precautions, you will be safe to wakeboard in the ocean. You may suffer the normal strains and sprains once in a while, but nothing as serious as hypothermia if you take the necessary precautions.
If you are a beginner, wakeboard early in the morning when the water is calm and do not go far from the shoreline. You need to learn how to use the tow rope and other wakeboarding gear before you get on the board in an ocean.
Another way to stay safe is to work with a licensed boat operator who understands the body of water you are wakeboarding. Such a boat operator will understand seasons when it is not safe to wakeboard and routes that have rocks.
You should only wakeboard during the day. You can go there early when the water is calm, but there should be daylight. Even if you trust you wakeboarding skills, always bring the necessary safety gear. You need a life jacket and a helmet to keep you safe.
Further, you need to bring someone, a spotter, who will sit at the back of your boat and guide the driver based on how you are wakeboarding. If you fall, let go of the tow rope. When getting back into the boat, ensure that the propeller has stopped completely.
You need to have a rescue plan if you fall into the ocean and you lose your board. The water is so cold and you cannot survive for long. With a life jacket, you can float long enough and wait to be saved, but you still need to have a plan.
If you hear thunder and see lightning, get back into the boat and ride to the shore. As much as you may want to have double fun, avoid drugs and alcohol when you are wakeboarding in the ocean (and anywhere else).
Can you bring your wakeboarding boat into the ocean? You need a large boat to wakeboard in the ocean. The boat should be able to handle the rough conditions such as the currents that are common in the ocean.
The location of the waters you need to wakeboard in and the weather of the area will determine whether your boat is enough. Factors such as wind speed and potential for a storm will determine how well your boat rides and how smooth your wakeboarding is.
Even if your boat can handle rough ocean conditions, you still need to check weather forecasts. The boat also needs to have the right safety features such as a VHF radio. You do not want to be stuck in the ocean, probably with your pet dog.
You can wakeboard in the ocean just as you do in the lake, but you have to take extra precautions in the lake. Check state laws on boating, the weather, the condition of your boat, and get the right safety equipment.