August 2016

Paddleboards are popping up everywhere these days. After years of kayaking, I was curious to see what all the hype was about. Is it tippy? How could paddling around standing on a board be so appealing? Don’t you get tired, or bored, standing all the time?

Is it tippy? I was surprised how stable it was. My first approach was to crawl on; I carefully creeped up on the board, expecting the placid looking beast to tip me into the frigid lake water with the slightest jerk of motion. Once successfully on the board, I got up on my knees. Still dry. Yay! So, I rocked ever so gently from side to side to get a feeling for the tipping point, like I would in a new kayak. Barely a few ripples on the calm water. That was good enough for me; I popped up from my knees to my feet, rocked the board a bit to gauge the stability from on high, and off I went. My knees were stiff for the first bit. It felt like the board might be luring me into a feeling of confidence, with nefarious plans to plop me in the water like a drylander. A few clumsy strokes with the paddle – wow that’s one long paddle! – my knees loosened up and I relaxed into stroking the board along.

What’s the appeal? I discovered a different perspective entirely from standing on the board. It feels like a new gift; the ability to walk on water. The view into the water is better from higher up, so I could see the watery flora and fauna more clearly and to greater depths. Somehow, just standing on a near flat board, instead of sitting down low in a boat with sides, offered a light fresh feeling of freedom too. OK, I get it. Standing on a board has its own special appeal. But is that all?

Standing all the time? I liked it, well enough. But, it seemed like a bit of a novelty and I was done with the introductory little voyage. Yet, not quite ready to get off the water, I sat down to dangle my feet in the water for a bit. Wow! I shifted around, straddling the board so that my feet were on either side and then sitting sideways so both feet were on one side, like the board was my own mini-dock in the middle of the lake. Now we’re talking! And then it happened. I knew I found my new favourite way to be on the water!

It’s been three summers of paddleboarding for me since that first encounter. I paddle alone, with my husband, and with friends and family. Calm water at high tide on a warm summer evening and a small nearby lake on a sunny day; those are my two favourites. Standing up, paddling with energy or long lingering strokes, sitting down with feet dangling, laying on my back with my fingers trailing in the water, belly down stroking with my arms like a surfboard. All awesome ways to experience the water from my new favourite way to be on the water in the summer.