By Chrisanne Sikora
Project Manager – Social Media
“It’s like skateboarding-plus-surfing-plus-canoeing.” That’s how I tried describing stand-up paddleboarding to a friend as we talked about what we were looking forward to doing this summer. I’d been curious about trying stand-up paddleboarding (or SUP as it’s often called) after watching people paddling around a harbor near Chatham last year. I did a little research to see if there were any places closer to home where I could try SUP. As it turns out, my local sporting goods store offers outdoor “adventure” classes, so last month I signed up for one of their Intro to SUP classes.
We began the class by meeting our instructor, Tom, and introducing ourselves to our classmates. After a little explanation of what we were going to learn in the class, Tom helped us get fitted for life vests and set up our paddles. Next, he went over the different parts of the SUP board and taught us the basic paddling strokes we’d be using: forward, sweep (turning) and stopping. We practiced our paddling strokes on the grass for a little bit, and then trooped down the hill to the river where Tom helped us get onto our boards and explained how to fall correctly if we should lose our balance.
We paddled around near the shore a little bit to get used maneuvering the board, and then headed off upriver. I’ll be honest I was a little nervous about paddling against the current at first, but it turned out to be pretty easy once we got going. Being out on the water, falling into a rhythm with paddling, was really peaceful. I watched a duckling swimming near the riverbank; a couple of dragonflies hitched a ride on my board; fish jumped out of the water trying to catch the little insects buzzing around the surface. We spent almost two hours on the water but it didn’t feel that long at all.
I’m happy to report that I didn’t fall off my board once. I did, however, have to duck under some low-hanging branches several times once or twice and got tangled up in some weeds by the shoreline for a bit. Guess I need to practice that sweep stroke. It was definitely a good workout and fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Looking forward to doing it again sometime!