Surfing basics: what surfing gear do you need to get started?
Surfing is an exciting sport that can appear mysterious to non-surfers, but new surfers can get started with a few pieces of equipment and a little practical advice. So, you want to enter the world of surfing, but you?re not sure where to start? First of all, it?s important to note that surfers are the members of a global "club" that has its own rules, rituals, music, clothing, and even vocabulary. For an outsider, all of this can appear quite mysterious, but once you join the club and love it, you?ll catch on quickly. But, if you don't want to feel or look like a "kook" (an inexperienced and goofy new surfer), get your hands (and your feet) on this basic surfing gear.
When it comes to surfboards, size matters. The most important aspect of any surfboard you will own will be its ability to keep you afloat. A bigger person needs a bigger board. You should not be taller than your board stood on end. Surfboard companies now make what they call a ?fun shape? board, which is a more stable board for beginners and infrequent surfers. This is a medium length board (somewhere in between a shorter, high performance board and a bulkier long board) with a rounded nose. Expect to pay $300- $400 for a new board, and less for a used board. If you have never surfed, try to find a used board to get started. As you learn, you?ll be better able to choose a new board that will be right for your body and your surfing style.
Taking care of your board will help it last to see many years in the water. Purchase a ding repair kit at your local surf shop. Dings are nasty little cracks and holes in the fiberglass of your board that let destructive moisture into the board's foam interior. The foam will suck up the moisture and damage the interior foam. In addition to repairing dings as soon as they occur, be sure to rinse your board with fresh water after each use, and store the board away from sunlight to avoid discoloration.
To remain attached to your board (so that you don?t have to chase it to the beach after your first ?wipe out? and so it doesn?t interfere with other surfers) attach a leash from the back of the board to your ankle. The leash should be as long as your surfboard and will be attached to the foot you have in the back when standing on your board. Normal footing is left foot forward, and "goofy footed" is a stance with the right foot forward. Both stances are acceptable, and you should use whichever is most comfortable for you.
You will need to apply surfboard wax to your board anywhere where your feet are going to touch. The wax gives you traction as water glides across your board and around your bare feet. When you are starting, apply wax to the entire top of the board. As you improve, you may only need to wax the sections of the board where your feet normally are. Choose a wax suited for the temperature of water in which you will be surfing. Colder water requires softer wax that will not get too slippery as it hardens. Warmer water calls for harder wax that won?t melt in the heat. Your surf shop will be able to sell you the wax appropriate for your area.
In warmer water, all you will need to wear is a pair of surf shorts or a bathing suit. Surf shorts are known for their flashy prints, but you might want to stick to something a little more conservative at first. If you are surfing in colder water, you may need a wetsuit. Wetsuits come in a variety of styles and weights. Again, a visit to your local surf shop should be all you need to find a wetsuit that works for you. If you buy a wetsuit, you will want a rash guard, which is a thin shirt used to protect your skin. Even in warmer waters, a rash guard worn alone can be a welcome addition to your surfing wardrobe as it acts as a sunscreen to your torso.
Speaking of sunscreen, wear it! Surfing is no time to try to get a tan. The sun from above and the glare off the water give you a double-dose of damaging rays. Apply a heavy-duty, waterproof sunscreen before entering the water, and remember to reapply throughout the day.
Be informed before hitting the beach. Most surfing areas have a local surf report, which you can find on the web or through a surf shop. Lifeguards are also good resources for surfing information. They are often surfers too, and they can tell you where to, and more importantly, where not to hit the water. Pay attention to surf warnings and remember that in surfing, as in any sport, if you put safety first, you'll avoid many unforeseen problems. Don't ever go out in the water if you feel uncomfortable about the situation. It is not worth it. You can surf another day. There will always be waves.
Surf?s Up, Dude!
Most seasoned surfers are welcoming to newcomers because they remember what it was like when they caught their first ride. They love the sport, and they will be happy to share their surfing tips with you. Drop by your local surf shop and talk to some people. If a surfer takes you under his or her wing, pay attention, and be grateful that you?re gaining membership into one of the most exciting clubs in the world.
Viewing wildlife safely: photography, tracking, and identification
Viewing wildlife and animal tracks safely, getting the most out of your experience, including purchasing backpacks, hiking boots, clothing, and field identification guides.
Viewing wildlife in its natural habitat can be easier to do if a few simple rules are followed... quiet, look, listen, and do not touch! Safety is an important issue, and we are going to look at ways to be safe when participating in this wonderful hobby.
Know where you are going. This sounds simple enough, but you would be surprised at how many people just take a drive into the countryside, park their vehicle, and walk into the woods. While many may return unharmed, many more become lost. Planning, deciding on a destination, and getting a map of the area to familiarize yourself with where you will be going, are the first steps to be taken. Many county maps will also point out areas of interest and places specifically for viewing wildlife. Going out into the ?wild' is not necessary to view wildlife even. Many state and counties offer marked trails to follow. These are an excellent way to try out this hobby. Clothing and Footwear
Dress appropriately. A sturdy pair of hiking boots is a priority. Make sure they fit properly, as a pair of ill fitting boots can be a danger in itself. They should also be waterproof, as this will help keep feet warm if you end up out longer than intended. Even morning dew can soak feet, and wet feet equal cold feet. Dress in layers. Outdoor temperatures can vary drastically nearly everywhere, summer, fall, winter and spring. The hottest day of summer in a southern state can be followed by freezing temperatures overnight. While you may not plan on being out overnight, always be prepared ahead. Always plan for the unexpected when dealing with nature. Backpacks
A backpack is a necessity for even a short excursion. You should try on a backpack for fit. Wider straps are always a good bet. This will help distribute the weight evenly. Check stitching, make sure it has been constructed well. A backpack that falls apart right away will do you no good. Make sure it is comfortable and has enough room for the basic supplies that should be carried with you. Always pack a basic first aid kit, water, map, compass, (know how to use the compass), bug spray, and a pair of binoculars or viewing glasses.
Never Approach Wildlife
Remember that you are out in the wild to ?view' nature. Never approach an animal, no matter how cute it is. Never presume that a baby animal has been abandoned and needs your help. Mother is most likely not far away, and in truth, baby animals are the most dangerous to view, as their parent can be quite aggressive if they feel you are endangering their young. While large animals instantly come to mind, this rule applies to even the smallest. For example, a mother turkey will chase, attacking with claws and beak, if she feels you are too close to her chicks. While you may not find this dangerous, believe me, it is quite scary when you are the one being chased. You also risk losing your sense of direction and becoming lost is most hazardous. Extras
A ?field identification' guide is a good investment. These come in everything from full sized volumes to pocket sized guides. These are available for everything from mammals to fish, birds, particular regions, states, etc. One I have found to be particularly helpful is a guide to animal tracks. Many times while out viewing wildlife, the most I have encountered is the animal's footprints. This handy little book allows me to ?see' what animal has just walked where I am now standing. A journal of where you have went and what wildlife you viewed or tracks seen, is a good way to enjoy your hobby even after getting back home. This can be as simple as a spiral notebook. Finally
Always leave nature the way you found it, if anything, cleaner. Take your garbage out with you. If you encounter trash along the way, be a good friend to the wildlife you are viewing and pick up the trash. Remember, viewing wildlife is a privilege, help take care of nature so the generation after us can also participate in this wonderful hobby!
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