It’s a full life, a good life. We live at the beach. We ride bikes, take hikes, but with warm ocean summer comes the longing to do more than drag my toes in the water. In early summer 2015 I saw a stand up paddle boarder ride a long right, carve graceful turns, and make quick snappy cutbacks. It looked easy but I’d been told that when things go wrong, they go really wrong. The ocean, the board, the paddle, other surfers. Too many moving parts I thought. Too many thoughts is more like it.
Donna was the first to try it. Who but Donna would see Mother’s Day as the day to try standup paddle boarding in the harbor? It was chilly. I felt low, so I brought the camera and stayed wrapped up at the shore. Donna went straight out on a 10-6 inch Riviera Stand up Paddle Board (SUP) from Jeff Clark’s Mavericks Paddleboards and didn’t look back.
Matthew was upside down with his dog Zeus thrashing in the water in a matter of minutes. But he still came back with Zeus mounted on the nose both of them smiling.
A few weeks later I walked the beach at medium low tide in my shorts, in bare feet. I saw another paddle boarder catching waves and it kind of got under my skin. Could I manage it? Would my back hold up? Would my left shoulder survive? Only one way to find out.
We booked an outing from Jeff Clark’s Mavericks Paddle Board shop and showed up on a perfect Princeton Harbor day. Warm air, no wind, cloudless sky. Birds welcomed us. Jeff’s shop is like a little slice of the tropics complete with grass inside and out (AstroTurf.) Beach balls were piled in bins outside the changing rooms that were set off by bright striped curtains. I got a 10-6 inch board that was about 33 inches wide. It looked like a wide, stable platform but on the water I was shaking as I paddled away from shore. I didn’t fall but used every muscle in my legs to stay upright. My feet hurt after an hour. I discovered muscles that I didn’t know existed. But I didn’t fall and wanted more.