This weekend I took advantage of a free Zozi deal I blogged about last week and tried out stand up paddleboarding for the first time. After driving about an hour southeast of Washington, D.C., to YK Kiteboarding and Stand Up Paddleboarding in Maryland’s Chesapeake Beach, I got my sea legs, so to speak, on a wide and surprisingly stable board and managed to hold my balance while cruising the bay without falling off. I wouldn’t quite say I’m a master, but I did take home enough tips to share them.
- Stand up paddleboards are boarded two ways: either you step directly on the far side of the board with one foot, then the other, or you climb on the board with your knees and then raise yourself to a standing position. I chose the former, as it seemed slightly less complicated, though it was odd to feel as though you’re stepping on water.
- The paddle is quite long, and can reach up over your head as you’re switching hands. The owner of the rental company recommended making a scooping motion with the paddle as you move it from front to back. (I really have no idea whether I succeeded in doing this, but I do know my arms got a workout.) I typically took about two to three strokes on each side of the board before switching.
- The same rules apply to weddings as they do to paddleboards. Don’t lock your knees while standing too long or else you’ll end up falling over. It’s best to bend them slightly and try to ensure that your weight is evenly distributed.
- The term “engaging your core” sounds like gym jargon, but it’s true. The more you use your entire body while paddling, the better your balance will be.
- Look up. It helps stabilize you, and hey, you’re supposed to be enjoying the view, so you may as well look at the scenery as opposed to your feet.
- Give yourself a break, as paddleboarding is not only tiresome for your legs but also a bit tough on your feet. (Mine were fairly swollen after about an hour of paddling, and my husband got a blister, ouch!).
- Sunscreen is a must. You’re out on open water just waiting to get crispy.
- Avoid jellyfish if at all possible or be prepared to get stung. (Some of us were not so lucky.)
- Watch out for the wakes of passing boats. It’s best to try and arrange your board so it’s perpendicular to the wake; if you’re riding parallel to it, you’re more apt to tip over.
- Be friendly. Stand up paddleboarding is still new enough that many people haven’t seen it before, and they may be apt to stare. A smile and a quick greeting is a nice way to acknowledge them, as a big hearty wave does little for your balance.
Photo: Dallas Killian
- Nat Geo Expeditions