With just six paddleboards and a passion to get people out on the water Mersea Island Watersports began life in 2013 and within weeks we had to expand our fleet to cope with the growing demand and it hasn’t stopped since!
As watersports fanatics ourselves, nothing is more exciting to us than sharing our enthusiasm for all things watersports and getting people out on the water with the knowledge they need to be safe and have fun. All our instructors have been trained to a high level in their sport and most have grown up on Mersea Island so know the channels and creeks like the back of their hand. In addition, we conduct extensive pre-season training to ensure that all are meeting our high expectations.
We offer lessons for all age groups and abilities as well as equipment and kit hire plus kid clubs, parties and corporate events!
With five different ways to float, the water can be accessible for all.
MEET THE TEAM
All our staff are DBS checked & have RYA Safe & Fun Safeguarding Certification. They are tested for Covid-19 in accordance with government guidance.
Mark is the big boss and the owner of MIW. He has spent his whole life on the water and is never happier than when he is paddling on or in something or holding on to a very big sail whizzing through the water on a windsurf or foil. He is endlessly patient and thinks he has the best job in the world as he gets to do what he loves for a living.
Paul joins us from Essex Outdoors and their loss is our gain. He brings over 25 years experience in running outdoor and adventure activities. Paul will take on the role of Operations Manager and will be responsible for regulatory compliance, safety, staff training and centre management.
Lucy’s 5th season sees her become Senior Instructor for Paddlesports (although she will also keep her previous title of chief mermaid spotter). Currently she is brushing up on windsurfing so she can add windsurfing instructor to her list of water skills. She is a talented artist and out of season she can be found in her studio painting beautiful seascapes.
Super capable Lucy is the lovely, smiley person you see behind the desk when you come into MIW or who you talk to on the phone. Outside of work she is a fabulous sailor and one of the team captains at Cadet week in 2021.
Donna is the Business Manager and keeps the lights on, the bills paid and tries to impose some sort or order on everything. She likes a neat office and is always tidying things away so no one else can find them which drives everyone mad. When not at the office she is on her paddleboard or her boat with a gin & tonic.
What would we do without Caitlin? Mature beyond her years, she is super helpful, masters everything in less than a minute and comes up with the most brilliant ideas. She is also pretty handy on a paddleboard and in a kayak. Just about to start A levels, she is doing all her theory training to become a SUP instructor the second she turns 18. Last summer she got her RYA Powerboating qualification so expect to see her whizzing about on the water making sure everyone is ok.
Gabby has been sailing since she was a very tiny person. Now an RYA qualified instructor she is passing on her skills to other tiny (and big) people. A really active part of the Mersea sailing community, Gabby is gunning to finish high up the winners board at her final Mersea cadet week this year. She is back for her second season with us.
BEN & CHARLIE
Two more local Mersea lads, Ben and Charlie have known each other all their lives so they know each other as well as they know the waters of Mersea having grown up almost literally on the water! This is their first (of hopefully) many seasons as instructors at MIW.
Currently studying Economics at Sussex, Tim’s passions are watersports, watersports and more watersports although if he had to pick a favourite it would be sailing. He has previously worked as a lifeguard, as well as volunteering for the RNLI and helping coach the optimists series at a local yacht club. He has prior experience of working with children at Mersea Outdoors and we are excited to have him onboard.
With more disciplines and brands appearing every year, the different range of watercraft available on the market has become overwhelming for many, making the decision on which type to buy very complicated and confusing. Tests and reviews of kit go some way to clarifying the situation, but ultimately there is no substitute for trying equipment for yourself.
With many years experience in the watersports industry we have links with all the international manufacturers so it means we are able spend a lot of time testing the latest watersports products to find which is first-rate . Our good family friends at Fluid Lines share our desire for the best and stock all the kit we use.
We are a recognised test centre for RED paddleboards who are the industry leader and with good reason. We are constantly changing the types of boards we have from them meaning customers have the opportunity to try tourers, explorers and different length boards.
We like to shop local where we can and our kayaks are designed and manufactured not far from us, in Norfolk. Launched in 2010, Tootega sit on top kayaks are an internationally recognised brand. We find them to be not only striking to look at but fantastic on the water.
In 2018, we took over the old Saw Mill at Coast Road and refurbished it. Previously used for boat building it now provides changing rooms, showers, a kitchen/bar and a comfy sofa for you to catch your breath after your water adventures. It is also an excellent venue for parties.
WHERE TO FIND US
Our address is 110 Coast Road, West Mersea, CO5 8NA. Once you cross the Strood (the causeway linking the island with the mainland), follow the road all the way up, into the village and out the other side. The road turns into the Coast Road and the sea should be on your left. Past the houseboats, and Dukes Seafood, you will find the Coast Inn pub on your right and we are next door. Go up the pathway next to Micro Scooters and you will find us at the end. Make sure you park first though! Coast Road car park, the boatyard carpark near the houseboats are all within a 5 min walk or use on street parking, but please be considerate of private driveway access. Cashless parking using MiPermit is available in all car parks: www.mipermit.com. Please also check tide times and depth. Link to page. Anything over 5m and you will need to leave a 45 min buffer either side of the tide to get across the Strood as the water covers the road.
OK! So we are biased but Mersea Island really is a largely unknown gem. This idyllic location is a great place to be and we are fantastically placed for you to explore our unique coastline, along with the many creeks and islands. Our location offers both sheltered channels and open water, so is perfect for all the sports we offer. The calm end of the Besom fleet for paddleboarding & windsurfing, the open water for wing foiling, the creeks for kayaking and the channels for learning to sail. There are 5 small islands to circumnavigate and miles of creeks and inlets that make great short cuts if you find the way. This is all whilst staying in the Mersea harbour. If you want a more challenging explore, please ask our advice for longer paddle journeys.
You’ve booked a session, now what? We’ve collated a list of frequently asked questions below.
Stand up paddle boarding or SUP is now one of the fastest growing sports in the UK. The boards look like surf boards and are paddled using a single blade paddle from a standing position. The simplicity and versatility of SUP means they can be ridden on lakes, river and the sea. It’s easy to learn and great fun as well as being an excellent core muscle workout.
Pretty much everything you need.
SUP – board, leash, paddle, wetsuit and buoyancy aid.
Kayaking – kayak, paddle, a wetsuit and a buoyancy aid.
Windsurf – board, rig, wetsuit and buoyancy aid
Sailing – buoyancy aid. You can hire a wetsuit if you need to but otherwise just bring something waterproof.
Sure thing! Go explore! Look round the estuary, marshes and backwaters and see what you can find. (You may even find Mersea’s famous Sammy the Seal).
The kayaks we use are extremely stable. You probably won’t flip over while paddling with us but if you do our guides are skilled at kayak rescue and will have you back in your boat in jiffy.
In summer shorts and a T shirt are fine for an introductory session, although you can hire a wet suit if you prefer. We advise wearing old trainers or water shoes as there can be sharp shells hidden in the sea bed. For poor weather or winter riding we suggest a wet suit as standard. Don’t forget to pack dry clothes and shoes as well as a towel.
Being able to swim is not essential for SUP, as you will be wearing a buoyancy aid and attached to your board via the board leash. However, you DO need to be able to swim to windsurf, sail and kayak.
If you are generally confident in the water but are feeling a bit unsure or apprehensive then book a 1-2-1 session so we can help build your confidence.
Anyone can paddle board, as a guide we would recommend from 8 upwards and they must be accompanied by an adult. For younger children we recommend you book a dedicated family session. These can be booked by emailing us. For kayaking, children as young as 4 can get involved as they sit in the front of a double. Because of the upper body strength needed for windsurfing, we recommend a minimum age of 12 years. All ages love and can come sailing but under 8’s need to be accompanied by an adult and competent swimmers.
You’ll need to arrive about 15 minutes before your session’s start time to get changed.
Yes, all our instructors hold SUP instructor qualifications from BSUPA (British Stand up Paddle Association). In addition they are all DBS checked. They also hold relevant qualifications in kayaking, sailing and windsurfing.
We have a newly refurbished centre that has changing facilities, a place to leave your stuff and hot showers for when you come off the water.
Generally, we suggest you leave them behind. Salt water doesn’t have any love for electronics. However, we do have some pretty amazing scenery so if you want to take some photos, we have waterproof cases for sale. If you are paddling solo then we definitely recommend taking some form of communication with you.