SUP with Presence

I paddled yesterday in conditions to my liking. The tide was low the wind was down, the waves were small and the crowds were gone. I caught a couple of waves, and those were fun, but the rest of the time I was sort of out of focus, off balance.

Enter yesterday’s post from Power of Presence titled “Paddle Barefoot – set your feet free!”.

The opening line “Paddle with an open heart and your mind will follow” gave me pause.  The whole post made me ponder adding breathing to my SUP outings.  And while bare feet are out of season for me, the whole notion of bringing a bit of consciousness to my paddling was refreshing.

I engaged with the author, and downloaded a paddleboarding guided meditation.  More on that when I’ve gotten waterproof audio gear.

 

Settled on SUP

I lifted these lines right off his blog.  What a great adventure.

“After a 4 1/2-month bicycle expedition around northwestern Europe, Joshua Sivarajah and his pint-sized paddling partner, Nero, weren’t ready for the adventure to end. So, they swapped bike for board, and embarked on a 1,777-mile journey down the Danube River—the continent’s second-longest river, nicknamed “Europe’s Amazon.” Photo: Joshua Sivarajah/ULI”

I found the site by looking for SUP sites, and sure enough he rides a SUP in some pretty interesting conditions.

As it turns out Joshua did some humanitarian work while on his trip by serving sandwiches for the Syrian refugee crisis.  Check it out here.

Real Surfers

Yesterday I read a blog post from Real Surfers.  It was the first surfing blog I followed.  For one the guy, Erwin Dence, has a great sense of humor, but two, which maybe is actually one, he’s a fantastic artist.  The image above is from his web site.  There’s more where that came from.

But yesterday wasn’t about Art.  It was about waves, or better stated, the absence of waves.  He and his buddies got Skunked, though it sounds like maybe there were some bitty waves.  At the same time, my backyard, Pacifica, CA, had huge waves.  Too big for me.  I’m looking forward to our surf waning a bit, which it appears to be doing.  Maybe the next swell will hit the northwest where Real Surfers is based.

But check out the drawings in this post.  This is what drew me to Real Surfers

The Manatees of Weeki Wachee!!!

We’d heard about paddle boarding in waters where Manatees live and took a tour with Anik Clemens from Anik’s Perspectives.  She’s lived in St. Petersburg, Florida the past 9 years and knows the SUP shops and venues for paddling.  She took us to the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park where we put in for the 6 mile down-river paddle.  She’d set us up with boards from the Kayak Shack that sat right on the water at end of the trip. We parked at the shack and got ferried, with our boards, to the put-in point at Weeki Wachee Springs.

The water was cool and clear.  The surrounding jungle close.  The river was teaming with small schools of Mullet and a smattering of Sheepshead thrown in for fun.  Needlefish slipped in and out of sight while Anhinga and Kingfishers punctuated the trees.

We shared the river with a few tour boats, and some fun-loving folks who climbed a tree to a diving platform.  As it turned out, Anik and our very own Donna were not afraid to take the plunge.  Check out the video for a two minute look at our trip.

We’d found six Manatees by the end of the trip.  The first one glided under my board like a ghost.  Down river a pup scratched its back under a submerged log.  My GoPro Hero 4 Silver captured most of the footage.  Super Slow Mo thanks to iPhone 6S Plus.

The little one is Kyra, Anik’s lovely 4 year old daughter.  Donna, Kyra, and Anik took a stab at singing Nimo’s song “Planting Seeds and Nothing More,” in front of one of the Weeki Wachee Springs mermaids.

If you like this post you’re sure to like our tour through the mangroves.

Sarasota Mangroves

The weather in St. Pete cooled for us which is a good thing given the 60 degree swing between the lows in Maine and the temperate Florida gulf coast.  We’re here to visit our niece and her daughter.  They’re cuter than cute and they love St. Pete.

Yesterday we drove to Sarasota where we shot video for a Chakra Meditation with Anik Clemens, Janice Baxter, and Donna Blethen.  Janice and Anik then guided us through the mangrove tunnels on SUPs provided by Surfit USA.

South Lido beach is a serious wild life area full of White Ibis, Belted Kingfisher, Great Blue Heron, Common Egret, Horseshoe Crabs, Little Blue Heron, Mullet, and more.  We had to lie low paddling through the close cover of matted mangroves that squeaked in the wind.  The overhead sky leaked through to shallow clear water then came blasting out in full fall blue once we exited a grove tunnel.

If only there was more time we’d surely do it in the early morning light.

SOPOSUP in Portland Maine

SOPOSUP is what. We met the owner, Raf Adams, at his store in South Portland, just a few miles from the surf at Higgins Beach off Cape Elizabeth.  After driving around Portland for a few days we realized that all you need is for the wind to lie down and there’s paddle boarding everywhere.  There’s so much water it’s just nuts.


The store was stocked with surf, glide, and race boards.  I was drooling over the lovely shape of the Focus boards.  Raf told us about great October waves they’d had at Higgins.

IMG_0477This Higgins right was photographed by Dustin Turin and it makes me want to see the place on a nice little 2-3 foot day.

We bought a SOPOSUP T Shirt and the latest STANDUP JOURNAL then drove out to Cape Elizabeth to watch the very flat ocean and grab a pretty solid bowl of clam chowder.


I took a minute to stick my hand in the water. It was cool but not the high 30s that settles in during the winter.  Raf told us he wore 7mm boots and wanted 9mm.  He’s seen below on the Presumpscot in January 2013

DSCN1549_1

Wish there were waves since SOPOSUP rents boards too.

The Speckled Ax

If the waves were larger, if the temperature was higher, if the wind would lie down I’d get in the water. Or so I tell myself.

We even saw paddle boards, yesterday, at the L.L. Bean mothership, where I went to buy boots but left with a bright blue non-spill mug with LL Bean stamped on the side.  I’ll curl up with it this winter watching waves while wondering just how cold it would be in Portland.  I might even ask my iPhone.


Outside L. L. Bean, in the breeze, I couldn’t pull my hands from the warmth of my flannel lined pockets to touch any one of the boards on display.   But today, while Donna stretched herself back together at Portland Power Yoga, I started a post from the Speckled Ax and felt like I’d come full circle and don’t really know why. A double cappuccino and salted chocolate donut can do that.

the speckled ax

Cooling Water

My back’s been out since trying to move cinder blocks for the outdoor shower drainage.  I’d heard they were only 5 pounds, but they seemed more like 500.  When the back is out there’s still plenty to keep me in the game.  We walked the length of Linda Mar at low tide.  It was one evening away from the harvest moon that peeks out tonight.  Slipping and sloshing through the clear cool water, still wearing shorts, but with a light down vest to keep the body warm.  The water is cooler in late September, but there’s still a lot of talk about el nino’s warm, wet winter.

There were dozens of surfers, one stand up paddleboarder, and a large number of kids playing in the surf and wading at the water’s edge.  Jingling bells announced two ice cream carts strolling up and down the beach.

Donna and I walked hand in hand and from time to time I shot video with my spanking new iPhone 6s plus.  I am pleased with the new toy and tried out the iMovie app for the following recap.

Broken Golden Rules

This past weekend I was in the lineup with other surfers for the first time since I started SUP surfing.  It’s been two months, and I still won’t go out in a large lineup, but there were only 5 people in the water.  We’d put in at New Brighton and paddled toward Capitola.  It was stunning weather, with calm ocean and blue sky. On the paddle up the coast we were accompanied by otters, brown pelicans, caspian terns, murres, and the odd harbor seal. We even saw one humpback, but it was farther out to sea.

The waves at Sharks were small and there were only 5 people out.  Maybe 1-3 feet with the majority of the waves flowing through at about a foot or so.  To me it was perfect.  Two of the surfers were clearly not comfortable in the water and hung to the side not making eye contact.  The other two were friendly and we shared the waves.  I caught a couple of nice little waves before the Golden Rule got broken.  I didn’t break it, and I’m still not sure how to discuss this with the rule breakers.  It’s so difficult to give a critique, especially to a surfer in the water.

Four young men with rented boards paddled into the lineup.  They didn’t look right on the boards, like maybe this was their first time in the water.  They paddled inside the area where the wave broke and then tried to paddle into waves after another surfer was already on the wave. I took off on a nice little right only to look up to see one of the “inside gang” trying for the wave too. I hollered “NO.” I don’t know if the guy stopped paddling or if he just missed the wave.

I finished the wave inside only to look up to see all three of them on the next wave, heading in my general direction.  It looked like they might run over me and land on the rocks.  I dove to the side releasing my board and paddle. Fortunately, nobody was hurt.  I collected my board and paddle and headed back out, a tad shaken by the close call.

So how do you talk to others in the water without yelling, shouting obscenities, and the like. I mean, it was a beautiful day.

Twenty-Nine and Counting

What SUP?  29 years, that’s what.  We spent our anniversary in a quiet Aptos AirBnB retreat.  A stunning little jewel tucked away in the woods.  Cora’s of California.  Sunday morning we got to the ocean with our SUPs and energy to paddle.  The tide was high, so we paddled from New Brighton up toward the Hook.  Donna had enough enthusiasm to push us both forward.  Keeping us company were sea otters, dolphins, murres, caspian terns, brown pelicans, harbor seals, and kids on the Capitola shore who sounded like they were at an amusement park.

Donna dropped me off at Sharks and continued to Pleasure Point where she stayed well outside the surf zone.  She was a spec on the horizon when I lost track of her.  But hey.  I found waves.  Little bitty things.  Just right for a newbie riding his bright white F-One Manawa.

Tom and Donna 29th-0022

And about those waves.

Donna and Tom Celebrate Their 29th Anniversary from Tom Adams on Vimeo.