Thursday, August 30, 2012

Adventures in Paddleboarding

Well, I had my first experience with paddleboarding on Sunday. I posted a quick FB update about it, but I thought I'd go ahead and tell the WHOLE story my little corner of the world.

It all came to be when my neighbors, Bradley & Parla, saw me catchin' some rays on my balcony this weekend.  I was taking advantage of the first sunny day & clear blue sky since '91. You see, we share this little catwalk/dock in our backyard which makes the perfect place to put in kayaks, paddleboards, basically anything without a motor. They shouted for me to come down and give it a try when they finished paddling around the island.

They came back about an hour later with a peaceful, uneventful trip to report. Now it was my turn, along with Bradley's friend Paul. We set out with no problems....just a relaxing little Sunday paddleboarding, right? Calm, quiet creeks, sunshine glistening off the water, conversation about the beautiful weather. Pretty sure I jinxed us when I said something along the lines of, "This is easier than I thought!"

Just about that time we had to go under a low bridge. Yep. And Paul warned me about 30 seconds before I went under NOT to put my feet down if I happened to fall off underneath the bridge. It was shallow and the rocks/oyster shells would cut me. Cool. Not only do I have to squat on the paddleboard AND balance AND paddle....but I also cannot fall off. Or else!!!

Success. Obstacle #1: Conquered.

Rounding the next bend was when we hit the current. We had been flowin' right along up until this point. But that current, it's no joke. About 5 minutes into the fight, it was clear that my paddleboard was not going in the direction where it was pointed. In fact, it was doing the complete opposite and spinning in circles like a duck with one leg.  Paul, at this point, thinks I'm a pansy- weak and tired....and probably a complete idiot.  So he tries to give me tips: "Try two strokes on one side, two on the other!"That's what I'm doing!" Did he not realize I was an expert up until this moment? I tried everything from kneeling on the paddleboard to laying on my stomach and paddling with my hands. Nothing was helping my cause and the current kept taking me backwards. Finally he came to a remarkable conclusion: my back fin/rudder/whatever you call it... was gone. (Did you know paddleboards have those things? Well they do.)  Steering a ship without a rudder is no easy task, let me tell ya. And we were probably another 45 min away from the dock. Paul to the rescue. We switched boards so that he had the gimp one for awhile to hopefully get us around the next bend.

Obstacle #2: Solved. Thanks Paul. And might I add, that we switched boards without falling in. I was kind of shocked.

Smooth sailing at this point. A very still and quiet stretch of river. Then came the problem: dolphins. For 98% of the population this is exciting and wonderful. However, me no likey the dolphins :) Sharks? big deal. But dolphins, I don't want to be in the water with them. Its an irrational fear, I know this. Ask me why & I'll tell you. Anyway, this gave me 10x more incentive NOT to fall off of the board.

Obstacle #3: I remained standing. The dolphins caused me no harm.

The final stretch of our journey. I felt sorry for Paul because he had the gimpy board for the remainder of the time. I offered to switch back but he wasn't having it. However, an offer that he did not refuse was when I suggested he hook on to the back of my board and I pull him in the rest of the way to the dock. He proceeded to stretch out on the board, prop himself up on his elbow, and allow me tow him in. Where was Parla with her camera when we needed her?

So we made it back. My hands were the sorest part of my body the next day from having a death grip on the paddle for an hour and a half. But, now I'm schooled in paddleboarding and I can't wait to do it again!


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