Blogging 101 taught me that the name of the site and the site’s URL don’t have to match. That was great news. “WHAT SUP?” was my first choice for a URL when I started shopping for a name, but it was taken in all its forms. So I stuck with SUP Days, The Stand Up Paddleboarding Life, which really didn’t communicate my intent. So what is my intent?
Stand Up Paddleboard Surfing for Life is more like it. Not just for the rest of my life, but for life now, today, in this moment. I see the world differently when there’s surfing in my life. The pure joy of standing on moving water; the sound of a wave breaking around me while balancing on a board, is transcendent.
Once again, I’m getting into shape, working on my balance, keeping an eye on the weather, the surf, and my time. This evening I took a walk to the beach and got a shot of some rocks and watched waves.
It was chilly and windy and not right for me. The sun set and left a trail of light on the incoming tide. There might even be good SUP Surfing conditions tomorrow, or the day after.
While reviewing the October issue of STANDUP PADDLE MAGAZINE I came across an article that started out interesting and then stopped me dead in my tracks. A European crew had taken surf boards, paddle boards, and kite boards to Iceland, along with VERY THICK wet suits, in search of cool places to paddle and surf. Sort of a search for the endless winter.
I was familiar with the terrain having spent a year there with the Air Force in 1968. I was stationed on the south east side of the island. I worked in a power plant supplying the only power the site had. We called the place, Hofn-by-the-sea. Just before I returned state side, a surfer from California showed up with board and wet suit. Both board and wet suit were locked up by the base administration so he’d still be alive for his year of duty. Here’s a photo of the installation shot from one of the Air Force jets.
The STANDUP PADDLE MAGAZINE article was well written, and had photos of surfing and paddle boarding with icebergs in the water. One full-page spread showed a black and white image of a standup paddleboarder riding a left with an extremely rugged rocky backdrop. The caption read, “Franz does a bottom turn. Hofn gives the word ‘solitary’ and entirely new meaning.” I had the same experience there though I never put my toes in the water.
This shot below is from the north side of the air base where I worked. The base, as I knew it, closed in 1992. It’s now a civilian-run air traffic control station.
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.