Hello Jo, congratulations on your book! It is really beautiful and jam packed with inspiration and information. How are you feeling now it is out in the world and can you tell us a little bit about the idea behind it?
Oh thank you, that’s so kind! First of all I would like to say thank you so much for supporting the launch with the generous gift of a FINDRA merino wool neckwarmer to 20 lucky people who pre-ordered the book. It really means so much to me to have your support. I am wearing a FINDRA neckwarmer in my author photo in the book and love it on those chilly days on the water! It feels a little surreal having my book out there in the world after working on it for so long to be honest and I am really grateful for the amazing response it has received. It’s written for, about, with and by paddleboarders.
A lovely teacher and SUP enthusiast at a recent SUP Festival told me she loves to dip into it when she has five minutes and it feels like it was written just for her. I’m so grateful for this.
There were three main ideas behind the book: First, to show how many beautiful and varied places we have available to paddleboard, from lochs to docks, harbours to canals, saltmarshes to the coast, SUP in the City and in the countryside. Second, it is a celebration of the wonderful SUP community and why the places they shared with me are so important to them. It is such a welcoming sport and I want everyone to feel like they belong. Third, I wanted to show how as paddleboarders we can be environmentally thoughtful in nature and towards marine life, like seals and dolphins, we are lucky enough to encounter. We have shared practical information, maps, where to buy a cup of tea or cake after and local guides and instructors who can take you out, which is always a great idea. There is also important safety information from highly respected paddleboarding experts. And of course, beautiful photography. I wanted to readers to feel they are visiting a place with me and experiencing it themselves. Much of the lovely feedback and reviews say this is how people feel reading it and seeing the stunning and diverse places.
Lots of people have been inspired to get into paddleboarding over the last couple of years, including the team at FINDRA! Can you give us a few tips on how to get started as recreational paddlers?
Of course! Although this list isn’t exhaustive and there is always more to learn! My top tip would be to have a lesson with a qualified instructor. It will be a great investment in your SUP journey and safety. They can teach you so much more about technique, safety and skills. If you can go on a course even better to really develop your understanding and confidence. Also, always wear a buoyancy aid or personal floatation device. Wear the correct leash for where you are paddling as this keeps you attached to your board should you fall in. I wear a quick release belt worn with my coiled leash around my waist. This is especially important paddling on rivers and estuaries where there is moving water as it sits higher out of the water and reduces the chance of snagging on debris like branches or moorings. It also means that if you need to release yourself from your board, if there is a risk of entrapment, it is more accessible than reaching down to your ankle. Here are a couple of brands you can buy them from: Panda and Palm.
Take a fully charged mobile phone with you and keep it on you, not in your bag on the board. Make sure you tell someone responsible on land where you are going, when you expect to be back, if you are delayed and when you return. Have an agreed plan in place for what they should do if you don’t return when you said you would. Dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature, which is especially important in the spring when we can be misled into thinking if the sun is out the water is warm, which it is not! I love my merino wool beanie and wear FINDRA tops and leggings under my dry suit pants and cagoule in colder months. In the summer, the leggings are great on the canal because of the side pockets for my specs and snacks! I always have extra warm clothing like my Rouleur top in the car for when I am off the water too. As paddleboarders we are essentially like sails, so be aware of winds on lochs which can be really quite big as we know and very much so by the ocean. Don’t go out in an offshore wind on the coast, you could be blown out to sea! Learn about tides, rips, currents and the weather before you head out and know that conditions can change whilst you are on the water. Above all, always paddle within your abilities and remember the SUP motto – If in doubt, don’t go out! There is a lot more safety advice in my book and on the Vertebrate Publishing website so do take a look there and I recommend some great online safety courses.
We know you travelled all over the country for your book and included quite a few spots in Scotland where FINDRA is based. Can you tell us a little more about your Scottish SUP experiences?
I loved paddling in Scotland – on the east coast in St Andrews, on the magnificent Loch Ness, beautiful Loch Tay and Loch Morlich in the sunshine and then sleeping under the stars on a beach on Great Cumbrae. I also visited Oban where the golden seaweed and pink sea urchins caught my eye and I was joined by seals. It was too windy to paddle on Mull so that’s on my wish list to go back to! There are so many wonderful places to paddle in Scotland and I would love to go exploring again.
Jo's Favourite Food for Paddle Boarding
My favourite sandwich for a long paddle is peanut butter. I use the peanut butter in my bliss balls too! Here is the recipe courtesy of Kate Percy and a photo of me eating them with my FINDRA leggings!
For about 20 balls:
- 25 g almonds or walnuts
- 200 g dates (pitted)
- 100 g dried apricots
- 100 g carrots - raw - grated
- A few drops vanilla extract
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 50 g porridge oats
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp mixed spice
- Pinch ground ginger & 1 tsp fresh ginger (I used fresh ginger & a lot!)
- 2 tbsp desiccated coconut to roll in
Blitz the nuts till small, add everything else & whizz in a machine (if you have one or lots of chopping).
Roll into balls & roll in the coconut.
I put them in the fridge in the bowl for an hour before rolling so they aren’t too sticky to roll just in your hands (no need for cling film).
I froze 96 of them before the coast to coast and they were fantastic.
Jo's Favourite Song
I listened to Dolly’s Try on my million metres rowing challenge back in 2013 and it’s always one I turn to when I have a big challenge ahead!
Win Jo's book "Stand Up Paddle Boarding in Great Britain" and a FINDRA Merino Neck Warmer
For the chance to win a copy of Jo’s ‘Stand Up Paddle Boarding Great Britain’ book and a FINDRA merino neck warmer:
- Follow us on Facebook and Instagram
- Like our posts about this competition
The competition runs from 7.30 pm on Sunday the 19th of June to 11.59 pm on Sunday the 26th of June. The winner will be announced through social media.