Independent paddlers

You’ve paddled with us, loved it and bought your own kit. There’s a world of amazing places to discover, but there’s a few things you need to know first.

Code of Conduct for use of Bristol Floating Harbour

We’ve worked closely with Bristol City Council since 2014, helping write a code of conduct for safe use of Bristol Floating Harbour by paddleboarders. It’s a busy waterway and having a few simple guidelines makes it easier for everyone to share the space. If you’re got your own kit and are heading out without us, take a look at this before you do.

  • Anyone under 18 years paddle boarding should wear a suitable approved
    buoyancy aid.
  • All paddle boarders should be attached to their board by a secure leash.
    Clothing should be suitable for weather conditions and water temperature.
  • Paddle boarders should be able to swim at least 50 metres.
  • Consider kneeling in the proximity of landings and quay walls.
  • Youth paddle boarding in the harbour can only be carried out as part of an
    organised session run by a Harbour Master Office (HMO) approved
  • Group sessions must be agreed with the HMO in advance to avoid conflict
    with other water activities and all users should check the Local Notice to
    Mariners prior to going on the water.
  • No deliberate immersions are permitted.
  • Before going on the water all paddle boarders should check the latest harbour
    water quality information.
  • Individual paddle boarders are not permitted to use the harbour in dark hours
    – there must be a minimum of 2 people.
  • Paddle boarders must ensure they have one or more white lights when out in
    dark hours, for all round visibility. It is recommended that at least one of these
    lights is flashing.
  • All paddle boarders must be licensed by the HMO prior to going out on the
  • All boards must be insured for third party risks to £3 million.
  • All boards must be launched and recovered from the Baltic Wharf low quay
    area set aside for this purpose.
  • Users must not attempt to paddle board in the vicinity of Junction Lock or Underfall Yard.
  • Paddle boarders should keep to the starboard side

Updated July 2018

Licensing for use on Bristol Floating Harbour

Reasonably priced day and annual licences can be purchased in person from the Bristol City Council Harbour Office, Baltic Wharf, BS1 6XG. Here is their full list of navigation charges. They will want to see proof of insurance to issue a licence

Insurance for use of Bristol Floating Harbour

A quick Google search will reveal many SUP insurance companies. However, we recommend you join an organisation such as Water Skills Academy or British Canoeing,  both of which include insurance in their membership fee.

Use of waterways outside of Bristol Harbour

The above licence covers you from Baltic Wharf, through the city, past Beeses Tea Room and up to Hanham Lock (The Old Lock and Weir Pub). From here you’ll need a waterways license from the Canal and Rivers’ Trust. This helps to pay for upkeep of the river and canal network. You can buy one online on their website or, even better, it’s included in membership of British Canoeing.

The sea is free to use for everyone although some land owners do charge for launching and landing (mostly an honesty box system). You might want to consider some training with us or another SUP school first though.

Storage of private paddleboards

Storage can also be arranged via Bristol Harbour Office in the Baltic Wharf Dingy Park and Dutch Barn. The list of charges is on the above link but may be subject to a waiting list. Sorry, but we are unable to store private paddleboards ourselves currently.

Where can I paddle?

We live on an incredible island for paddleboarding. Our rivers are beautiful and serene, and we’re surrounded by some of the most spectaular coastlines in the world. Once you’re trained and confident, we recommend getting your hands on a few guidebooks and planning your own adventures!

Pesda Press publish an excellent range of canoeing and kayaking guidebooks to the coast and river network and most of the information is entirely relevant to paddleboarding too. Just bear in mind your average speed might not be quite what is expected of a kayak – unless you’re paddling downwind that is!

Always check the weather conditions before going out. Ensure you’re suitably equipped for the conditions and have the appropriate safety and rescue training. If in doubt, don’t go out.

See you on the water!

Tim, Kate and the team.