Full moon paddling is a fun and surreal experience. If you are observant, watching the day critters go to bed and the night time critters take over, is part of the fun and excitement of paddling after dark. There is always a lot of beaver activity after sunset that is serendipitous to happen upon.
Finding a small lake to get started building confidence in night time paddling is a great idea for a first time event. If it is a State or County Park, finding out what time the park closes is one step in the preparations. Find out the Sunset and Moon rise times. The IWTA Newsletter provides the times each newsletter or you can Google it.
Here is a planning list of considerations:
- Paddle with a buddy or group for safety
- Dress for cooler night time temps
- Avoid areas that have snags. Scout out the lake in advance.
- Check out the vessel lighting regulations for Iowa. Go to http://www.iowadnr.gov/portals/idnr/uploads/boating/ia_hb.pdf.
- Wear a head lamp plus pack a spare and/or batteries.
- Whistles are a great safety accessory for attendees. Discuss signals in advance. S-O-S is typically three quick blasts.
- Wear and securely zip your PFD
Paddle to the furthest eastern section of the lake for the closest view of the moon as it rises. It can take 30 minutes before you see the moon rise over the horizon. Be patient. If it is a cloudy night, you may not see the moon at all. Find out in advance if it will be a cloudy night. It gets very dark on the lake if the moon is not visible. Be prepared with extra lighting.
Be prepared for vessel reloading after dark. A lantern stored in your vehicle works great for the extra lighting needed to make the job easier.
Make an adventure out of it. Enjoy the night sky and full moon over a campfire with friends. After you exit the water, go to the fire pit you pre-scouted for a campfire, post paddling. Supplies needed can include glow-sticks, local firewood, lighter and lawn chairs.
Food could be as simple as snacks, s’mores, marshmallows or hot dogs. Another option for a cooler evening; bring and warm chili over the fire. If you have unlimited time, a dutch oven inspired meal or dessert would provide a great late night activity.