So I got fancy new paddle board for my birthday last week. I figured I’d tell you all about how it went in the very first week. Hint: it’s awesome!
How it came to be
Not super proud of this but this is how it went down. We watched Blue Crush 2 on Netflix this winter. The main character goes back and retraces her dead mother’s steps in a moment of self discovery. Yes it’s just as cheesy as it sounds and I loved it! Mostly I loved the idea of surfing and went on and on about how I wanted to try it again and was on my way to being a big wave surfing superstar. Then we would have to move to Fiji and I’d get sponsored by Roxy. Like for months, turns out Richard was listening. Actually he’s pretty typical with that male pattern selective deafness but he always seems to remember when it comes to gift ideas. Anyway turns out he had this all planned including transporting it home which is hard since we most often roll together. I walked into the store to use the bathroom and saw him looking at it an uttered a simple yet firm NO. Then we talked about it, I looked into the specific model, since this is to be the launch of my surfing career after all. Then we picked it up together the next morning an the roof of my little truck. It seemed like a bit of a luxury considering I’d never even tried it!
What I wanted in a board
I have some ideas of what I want to use it for but no real notion of how they will work out yet. I wanted to use it to get boats honey flips over in the lake and do some yoga on it maybe even with a local group. But I also wanted one I could catch some waves with or at least play around with in the ocean and try stand up paddle board surfing with. Truthfully and less glamorously it probably will be used for work from time to time. We could feasibly do some mooring service from one or use it to extend wharf work past low tide. Since I’m small it doesn’t need to be too big and I don’t really care about going fast or using it for actual transportation. But, I have vowed to get groceries on it once this year since we live in a place where that’s possible. My fitness time is also my me (and sometimes away from honey time) so I want to be able to manage it by myself. That means at least when I pop down to the beach at the end of the driveway I want to be able to load it in the truck myself.
Apparently stand up paddle boarding is a wicked form of exercise targeting your whole body particularly your abs and burns a surprising number of calories. I’m not sure it that’s true but I’m really just in it to have fun. SUP is very weather dependant especially here and some years I get really into one thing. So I wanted it to be rugged and last until its a SUP year again if it sits for a while. Also because of this I didn’t want it to be terribly expensive.
What I got
It’s nothing fancy and should I decide to compete in the SUP world championships, which is a thing, I’ll need an upgrade. I got the Pelican Rider 10 ft SUP from Canadian tire so for the foreseeable decades this should be fine for my needs. This Baja 100 Stand Up Paddle Board is essentially the same thing but comes with some rigging and handles. I could maybe possibly foresee myself also getting a surfboard if I do foster a love of surfing. But for now that’s up there and as likely as me running an ultra, completing a 1/2 Iron or finishing yoga teacher training which is to say not very likely.
You do have to pay for a paddle separately and I picked out a leash for my ankle too. I didn’t get the rigging or handles for now and to be honest I probably won’t. The pelican board I picked out is a relatively wide and short one which means it’s pretty darn stable. I read some reviews from SUP magazines (again it’s a thing) and they were pretty great actually. Apparently it’s a good all around board and it was pretty recommended across the board. The majority of reviews I read said that it was a great all around board for the casual user but it’s most distinguishable feature was the price. Listed price $529 CDN ($400 USD) it’s up to half the price of comparable boards. On sale at $299 CDN it’s a steal. All included the set up and taxes cost $500 CDN. The consistent downfall in the reviews is the weight At 47 lb its at least 15 lb. above comparable boards. But this also makes it a rugged board too, one that likely won’t get damaged.
On the way home from the store on my birthday we stopped at my mom’s since we were talking about it the night before at dinner and it looked cool on the roof of the truck. As soon as she opened the door she said, “I want to try that!” so we decided to come back that night. Then I parked the truck with the board still wrapped on it for the day and drove a half tonne full of garbage. I switched vehicles, grabbed the wetsuit for my mom and we set to it. Honey and my step-dad assembled it, attached the fin and the leash and we were on our way. So it took us longer to get dressed then assemble it. I went for a turn first then my mom and then both of us together. It was fun in the lake but I wasn’t totally sold.
Alright I’ll admit it I was a bit cranky, maybe more than a bit cranky actually. Richard was having his poker buddies over, we were both exhausted and the house was a mess. He said he would clean the house, probably my least favourite activity but after taking the garbage out that was it. So on my first afternoon off in weeks I got to clean the house top to bottom. Honey loaded the paddle board in so I felt like I had to go. I wore my shorty wetsuit since it was overcast and foggy and the water was 15 C (59 f) brrr. Also the hatch opened twice going down the driveway and our neighbours might have heard the tornado of swears I unleashed, sorry about that!
I took it out in the lake and quickly tiered of that. The waves were pretty good at the beach swells but nothing to noteworthy. I did struggle to get it across the road by myself taking a couple of breaks. Well that was a totally different story! I went in and out a few times on my knees and then paddled out standing up on the way out and kneeling on the way back. I got tossed off a few times and that leash really came in handy! After an hour it was fully foggy and I didn’t care, I tossed the paddle up on shore and played with it as if it was a surf board for another 45 minutes. I might have even caught a wave for a moment or two here and there. I dragged it back to the lake parked the truck right up against the water and left the hatch open took it for a rinse paddle getting off and flipping it over a few times and loaded it directly into the truck from the lake. When I got home you couldn’t beat the smile off my face, even with a 47 lb paddle board.
Disclaimer: I took to this pretty quickly jumping into 2.5 ft surf after my first 15 minutes, with out a life jacket. I’m a really, really strong swimmer, not just a ‘yeah I do triathlons swimmer‘ either. I was a competitive swimmer for a time and a national lifeguard for 4 years pool and surf certified. I pretty much only worked at pools other than covering the odd shift at the beach here and there. Canadian lifeguards are the second best trained in the world after Australia and the written, fitness and scenario exam takes 8 hours to complete for pool and for surf it’s usually done over two days. The test must also be re-done every two years. Surf training includes the use of rescue boards which we are trained to use laying down and sitting on. We’re trained and tested for speed, agility, endurance and ability to preform rescues on them. So I had a lot of confidence in my swimming abilities and some familiarity with boards before I started, even though my certifications expired 12 years ago. I’ve done about 120 rescues, about 15 of those in surf and 5 as a regular beach going citizen since. So even though my mom isn’t a strong swimmer she was covered too. I did read that in some jurisdictions you must wear a lifejacket or P.F.D. when using a paddle board. You probably should too when your starting out, stay safe and stay legal!
The rest of the week
I was down at the beach and the lake every chance I got and I took it out in the surf twice more now paddling in and out standing up. The first time in super calm waters where I met another paddle boarding couple and got some tips like be cautious of the wind since you are a big sail. I didn’t even fall in but I discovered just jumping off the board over and over again is super fun. My paddle fits in the carrying hole upside down so it doesn’t get dislodged when you’re jumping. The next time in 3 ft waves and I defiantly caught a few waves that day. I still kneeled to turn around and it was pretty freaky heading back into shore standing and not being able to see the waves coming for the first time. I also made this super handy (super geeky) glasses flotation device. I tied some neon synthetic string to the knobby bits ahead of the hinges and through the slice of a pool noodle with a darning needle. The string will hopefully keep then near your head but should they fall off they will float. Keep in mind you’ll be blind looking for them.
I also went in the lake three times the first time I took a kid for a ride since he didn’t fit with his sisters on their board and did some sun salutations. The second time I rescued a flipped RC boat and saw a Great Blue Heron take off less then 5 feet away from me and wore a sweater. Finally the third time was at my mom’s and I was her passenger. Twice that week I wished I had it at work once was a cold underwear (don’t worry I planned for it) swim out to a mooring to attach an empty crib we were floating. The second time was (another underwear swim) out to a stuck float with a 2000 lb mooring attached to try to push it from a sand bar at low tide. Spoiler alert: it didn’t work and two hours later the tide came up and we were free. Being dry would have made each a hell of a lot more pleasant.
Week one tips
- Stay legal and stay safe wear a P.F.D
- Start slow
- Looking back on video it’s more stable then it looks at first
- Your paddle does float but if it’s all black, paint part of the handle a bright colour
- If you’re blind like me wear contacts or figure out a system with your glasses
- Since you’re likely to get wet then stand in the wind consider a wet suit. Plus having one extends the season and the things you can do with it.
- Practice getting on and off a few times in deeper (yet close to shore) water should you fall off
- Get a leash! It means you’ll never be separated from the board by more than a few feet.
- Go where there are lifeguards at first
- Even if you don’t plan on getting wet, plan on getting wet just in case. A few times I wore a sweater.
- Even if you just plan on using it in calm waters play a bit safely in gentle waves as it makes you a lot more confident in still water.
It’s really fun which you might have already guessed. It also seems like it will satisfied all my desires and then some. It does seem bullet proof strong but it’s also one HEAVY bugger. I’m pretty darn strong for a pint sized human and it was HARD to handle at first but by the end of the week I was managing pretty good. Get a leash it makes it no big deal if you fall off. Leashes are a good idea and if you are anything but the strongest of swimmers a leash is a necessity.
Also you might really consider a wetsuit at least a shorty one. I happened to pick one up thrifting a few years ago for $15 thinking it could help in those April-May boat retrievals and I use it for triathlons. It’s probably worth sourcing one since it really does keep you hella warmer. It both extends the season dramatically and the things you can do with your board. There is no way I could spend two hours in 59 f water falling in while trying to surf without it.
I’m not sure it burns the crazy calories they way it’s claimed, or that it’s a super intense core workout. And since it’s a paddle board I won’t be wearing my Apple Watch to track it and find out! I spent over an hour paddling back and forth in swells and I wasn’t exhausted but maybe that’s because it’s so fun. Also my ab muscles never hurt, only my armpit muscles in the slightest.
Don’t stress as much as I did over your board choice. Fast and far get a long thin (less stable one), for stability, surfing or yoga a shorter wider one. The sport (hobby?) is growing like crazy so if you find you’ve made the wrong choice you should have no problem uploading your old one. It’s super fun and if Honey and I didn’t have a tidal mud run scheduled that week I probably wouldn’t have run at all!