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:

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!


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9 Responses

  1. BARB mulligan says:

    Hi Michelle, very helpful article. We are looking to buy a paddleboard and I was wondering what the difference is between inflatable and non inflatable? And what would you recommend for our family me, a 12 year old and A 9 year old?

    • michelleg says:

      Hey Barb, Thanks! Psyched to hear that you’re interested in SUP! Here is a good article/review of inflatable boards, http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/Inflatable-SUP-Reviews
      Inflatables are very easy to inflate and are most obviously, easier to transport than a regular board. I have demo-ed one but it was indoors at the boat show. It’s not as stable as a regular board and that was indoor without wind or waves. There really isn’t a cost benefit, both types run about the same.
      East Coast Paddle in Wakefield has 4 brands of regular boards and 2 brands of inflatables. I strongly recommend you and the girls go test them out. It’s kind of like buying a bed 😉 For the most part you’re going to want something that feels stable and light enough for you to carry and load.
      Let me know how you make out and tell them I sent you!

  2. Dorian says:

    Great post, Mich! I love your easy-going writing style. Plus, you always try to keep it real, and I appreciate that. One small design note, I’d love to see the subtitle in the blog header in a bolder or bigger type face. Maybe it’s just my eyes, but I found it really tough to read. Ending on a positive note, I absolutely adore the title, MishPerceptions. How brilliant is that???

    • michelleg says:

      I have a lot of website design work to do!! It is taking some time to get a feel for manipulating the site. Thanks for the feedback, I agree wholeheartedly.

  3. Wilton says:

    This blog is really interesting. I have bookmarked it. Do you allow
    guest post on your site ? I can write high quality articles for you.
    Let me know.

    • michelleg says:

      Hello. Thanks for your kind words. At this time, I am not accepting guest posts. I will keep you in mind if I do.

  4. I’m a surfer at heart, but I do SUP every now and then when the waves are not cooperating. It’s a distant 2nd place to surfing as far as my favorite is concerned, but that’s not too bad considering how much I’m in love with surfing.

    Being a beach volleyball player, I’m pretty sure you had an easier time getting started. I’m sure you have the leg and arm power for SUP!

    • michelleg says:

      Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to respond! I find SUP itself to be very easy unless it’s really windy, that is NOT fun unless the wind is at your back and you don’t need to turn around, lol. Surfing on the SUP is a whole other ballgame. I truly admire you surfers! I’ve snowboarded for 20 years and I know I would love surfing but chose to SUP because it’s “kinder and gentler” 🙂

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