It seems these days if you go to any body of water you will see someone on a stand up paddle board.
They are on the lake, in the river, at the beach, it’s become a huge craze and I definitely wanted to check it off my Life List. Stand up paddle board or SUP for short has been in existence for centuries. Africans were the first to stand on dugout canoes using a paddle to get around. The Hawaiians upped things to a new level when they used SUPs to catch waves. The Hawaiians really are freakish water men. Everything done in the ocean is next level in Hawaii.
I’ve always loved everything about the water. Whether it’s Surfing or swimming, sailing, diving, snorkeling heck if it’s on or in the water I’m keen to give it a try.
SUP is no different and to my good fortune a friend Graham “Morgo” Morgans has agreed to help me check this one off the Life List.
Morgo calls the night before and explains the tide in the river is going to be a little difficult to navigate but it was the only time slot he could manage. Okay no problem I reply.
I was expecting a small cruise along the river and maybe some power paddling back to the beach. Maybe 30 mins on the board so I could say I’ve done it.
How wrong could I be?
The alarm shatters my blissful slumber, I pry open one eye and the digits on the clock face are displeasing at best. I’m not a morning person, never have been and find it’s far better for my health to roll over and go back to sleep at 5am. Not today, I rub my eyes, throw on shorts and a shirt, have a quick bite to eat and race out the door. Despite the early start I am genuinely excited to try paddling.
Upon arrival I see Morgo has already unloaded the boards. He tells me he has put in a 200m open water swim to warm up. I think he is mad, but each to their own. I ask Morgo to get a quick photo of me holding the board and paddle. Lifting up the board I’m blown away by how big and heavy it is.
“Excellent” I say, “let’s go”
I push the board out to knee deep water and hop on. It is pretty simple to be honest. With my surfing background and the fact the board is so buoyant I’m good to go straight away. The actual paddling I found to be pretty easy too. The calm flat water is great place to start. Using one of these boards in the surf is a whole different animal, an experience I wish to try.
We paddle across the river and up a tributary. Motoring along nicely then the realization hits me, we are riding the tide and it’s moving like a freight train. I am hardly paddling and we are clocking kilometer after kilometer. I asked Morgo, “So how do we get back?” maybe he has organised someone to pick us up further down river.
“What’s wrong with you? We paddle back you big baby” he replied with a grin from ear to ear.
Up the creek with a paddle
Morgo gives me the signal to turn around which I am delighted to see. My feet and calves are cramping as I work hard to maintain my balance. I can feel my abs getting a work out. This is a pretty serious workout.
We make the turn and it’s every bit as bad as I was expecting. I try to up the stroke rate, we paddle like mad men. An old lady shuffles past us along the river bank, she is headed in the same direction! I think we are fighting a losing battle.
I look at my watch and we are already an hour into the return paddle. Fatigue is setting in and we have only just made it back to the entrance of the tributary and the main river. The water here is hectic and I am concerned I’m going in for a swim. Morgo goes first and catches a rail and gets wet. It took everything I had in me not to laugh.
I notice a small eddy that I can use to my advantage, I get in position and with some heavy stokes I’m through. Feeling pretty chuffed with myself might I add.
Back at the beach I step off the board exhausted but mighty proud I have not fallen off. During the adventure we spotted some fish, a shark and a fever of stingrays. A wonderful experience but I am not overly smitten with the sport.
I certainly don’t have a desire to go out and get myself a board.