My oldest daughter has an SUP. Stand up paddleboard, in case you need to know. Her mother-in-law also has one. They rave about how fun they are, how easy they are to use, how great the muscular work-out they provide.
So I sure enough wanted to try and see for myself last November in the bay water of Palacios, Texas. Perhaps I should have received warning signals from the opposing phrases “easy to use” and “great work-out”. But, of course, I didn’t. Read on.
Prior to the scheduled day, we had determined that if there was even one little bit of wind we would cancel this adventure. I looked out the window on the appointed morning, and saw ripples on the bay water. Surely a text would come saying “No way” from the other three gals. The other three younger gals. No text came so Karen and I took the short walk from our RV’s to the bay.
In the above picture you see me looking at the SUP while my good friend Karen is watching, and the SUP owner is behind me getting ready to board her board. She and her daughter (at the end of the launching pier) advised Karen and I against standing on the boards, since it was our first time using an SUP. Even the young 16 year old daughter, a strong competitive swimming champion, was a sit-down and paddle rider.
I’m always eager to sit down so it seemed like a magnificent idea.
But check out the width of this board compared to the ridiculously short length of my legs. I did climb right on the thing and assumed a seated position with my short legs sticking out in front of me as best as I could manage.
And away we went, headed left of the pier in a northerly direction. We had determined that we would paddle north to the beach area, rest a bit and then paddle back. Check out the red arrow on the below picture. Kinda looks like an anchor actually. No coincidence. The trip felt like my anchor was down the whole way. Anyway, that red mark indicates where the beach area is. You can’t tell in the picture but it’s quite the distance. See how small the buildings look on the beach?
Yes, quite the distance when you look at the below map picture and arrow indicating where the beach is. Past one large fishing pier and three small ones. Karen’s husband Craig is standing on the launching pier. His exact words: “You’ll never make it back here against the wind”. Ha, we’d show him. Or would we?
Do I need to tell you that I was quite a distance behind the other three? Of course I don’t. But actually I was paddling and sitting there on that board like a big girl. Big old girl. Whose back very quickly decided this position was excruciatingly uncomfortable. But no one was going to be aware of that. No way. Simply B, tough old coot. ??
As we passed merely the first pier near East Bay park I decided to reposition so my legs could dangle. Again, the width of the board versus the length of my legs. Not to happen. So I put both legs on one side and sat there for a bit, going basically nowhere but feeling a little more comfortable. At least the other gals couldn’t see me just sitting there since they were far ahead of me.
The wind continued to increase so I assumed the original position, only with my legs crossed, and kind of just held my arms out hoping the unfortunate flap of “wings” on my upper arms would serve as a sail. Call me a genius or not, but I did find myself moving swiftly toward that north beach area. At some point the other three board riders had made the turn back south to return to the original launching area. They zoomed on past me and so I executed a pretty good turnaround back to the south without ever reaching the beach. Against the direction of the wind. Sitting and paddling because floating with those nasty arm “sails” was obviously totally ineffective against the wind.
Honestly, the three others were having rather significant issues against the wind, but they stayed the course while I was well out of their eyesight behind them. Going nowhere, frankly. But trying real hard to paddle that stinking board.
And it was then that my back absolutely and utterly demanded a change in position.
At first I put my arms back behind me in a reclining position. But that provided little relief to my lower back. So finally I just laid myself down on that there board and looked up at the sky. Suddenly I just did not care about making it back to the launch area. Suddenly my back felt sooooo much better. The sun was shining on me like a warm hug. I could hear the wind and it seemed to say “There, there, just relax. It’ll be okay”. Bliss, I tell ya.
Had the wind been in a northerly direction I likely would have quickly ended up on the coast of the Dominican Republic or something as I floated along at a rapid rate of speed.
But I was headed in a safe direction, toward the beach. No worries.
Until I heard a voice. God? Uh, no. A fisherman. I opened my eyes and I was about 12 or so inches from crashing into a man on a fishing boat with about 5 fishing poles in upright positions.
He loudly said “Are you okay?”. Loudly like maybe he thought I was, uh, dead? Or at least comatose? Or possibly I looked like a drunk just lying there not moving. I said “Well no actually I’m not. My back is killing me so I’m just laying here for a bit.”
He asked me if I’d tried paddling while on my knees for a bit. Well, wouldn’t that have been a brilliant idea? So while he watched I managed to assume a kneeling position on the board. Though he seemed to be smiling pretty widely I didn’t hear any laughter. But of course I wasn’t wearing my hearing aids. Maybe he was laughing.
****For the record, this was a pretty impressive lesson in humility for me.****
So I paddled for a bit on my knees but not in a southerly direction. That was not to happen. NOT TO HAPPEN. The wind assisted me in my quest to reach the beach and as I was heading that way, along came the other three women in the same direction. They said they were concerned about me. I’m opting to believe they, too, couldn’t make it against the wind. 😋
As I looked toward the beach area who was there but Craig and DeWayne, husbands of Karen and myself. They had seen that whole near-crash with the fishing boat and subsequent interaction with the fisherman. Oh happy day. I had surely provided an abundance of entertainment for the onlookers. Entertainment like a horror movie? Nah, their broad smiles was a clear indication of recent laughs.
So the four of us pulled our SUP boards up onto the beach area and the men loaded them up in the back of our pickup.
And then, no back pain at all, I walked with the gals back to the camp while we laughed and talked about the big adventure we’d just experienced. Walking? Talking? I’m all about that sort of exercise.
You won’t believe it, but I said “I want to try that again back in Kansas on a day with zero wind. But I’ll stand up next time.” And I meant it! But hopefully without a big audience, and with no fishing boats to run into.
Stay tuned. But go ahead and change the channel. It’ll be a long minute.