Up until the last couple of years, volleyball was my thing. I played for a good part of 35 years and it has undoubtedly shaped my life. I can’t speak for other team sport communities but the volleyball world is incredibly strong and the game is built on sportsmanship. Into my mid to late forties, injuries began to seriously hamper my game and playing put my career as a massage therapist in jeopardy. Can you say depressed?
At about the same time, my cousin Jackie (and now Paddler in Crime) asked me if I wanted to take a stand-up paddle board class with her, run by Eastern Mountain Sports. I had seen this paddleboard thing here and there in the bay and I was all for trying it out.
And now, before I bore you to death, I’ll fast forward to now where I own a board and SUP has become my thing. I miss beach volleyball terribly (almost painfully) BUT, I love SUPing and over the last two years, it has helped ease my suffering 😉
When you are out paddling, you get stared at. SUP has been around for quite awhile (even here in RI) but it is still very new to most people. When kayakers and fisherman on the water greet you, they always say, “I’ve been wanting to try that but it looks so hard. Is it hard?” Seriously, nine out of ten. Verbatim.
I call stand-up paddle boarding hiking on water. Sure, sometimes it can be a workout. Wind, current and choppy water can put you to the test but mostly I find it incredibly relaxing. I never think to myself, “Oh, I need to workout. I should go paddle.” Usually my self talk goes more like, ” I need to escape this insanity and go bond with Mother Nature.”
The board is super versatile. You can paddle while standing, kneeling or sitting. Lying on your belly, you can paddle with your hands (this usually means the wind is god-awful). When it’s time to chillax, you can sit or lie down on the board and just float your stress away (you can buy or make an anchor if you want to float awhile and not worry about drifting). You can carry pretty much anything you want to on the front (or back); a cooler, your dog, a small child (really!). Put on some deck straps and get a dry bag and you can secure your car key, phone, towel, food, etc.
Have I sold you yet?
The next big question is, “Where can I do this?” Anywhere there is a boat launch or shore where you can park and put in. The major factors to pay attention to are the wind, the current, the tide (for ocean/salt water locations), and depth of water (paddle boards have a fin that’s about 6″ long). You also want to avoid very rocky or weedy areas. I will be sharing some great locations in future blogs.
RI locations to rent:
- East Coast Paddle Sports in EG and Wakefield
- Narrow River Kayaks in Narragansett
- Kayak Centre of Rhode Island in Wickford
What you need to get started:
- board and paddle (I recommend going to East Coast Paddle Sports in Wakefield. They have several brands and you can demo)
- leash: coiled if touring, straight if surfing
- life jacket (required by law): many varieties I will touch on soon
- dry bag: various sizes depending on what you want to keep dry
- vehicle or roof rack to carry your board
I know you want to try. It looks like fun. It IS fun. It is NOT hard. My children can do it. Put some adventure in your life!