Up river without a paddle

You may call this cliché but it has happened to me TWICE this season with a group. I haven’t been so disappointed in myself on a paddleboard adventure as those times. Always coming prepared with my toolkit, extra water wicking clothes and enough duct tape to wrap an entire paddle board – I should come with an extra paddle. Let me add another cliché to the pile, ‘you get what you pay for’. Silly me, I bought paddles that were pretty cheap and we were no more than ½ mile down the river when the paddle split from the pole….sinking deep into the waters below.

Firstly, your paddle should not split at minimal force, let alone sink.   All thinks water ought to float. In any case this was the culprit. Right where the paddle met the pole, it split off. In this case, I tethered to the paddleboard with no paddle and paddled for two. Once in the clear, I gave her my paddle and took the pole. All survivalist mode, I paddled close to shore, sticking the pole into the sand and launching forward. On a positive note, I kept up and probably burned a whole lot of the anguish (and calories) on the effort.

This led me to a paddle exploration. My journey was to find the best paddle for the job. To my amazement, I didn’t have to look further than my own backyard. What are the odds? Bending Branches |Aqua Bound located in Osceola, Wi are the WORLD’S largest paddle distributer. Keeping to my passion too – buy local! This company is amazing. After calling them up and telling my exasperated story, they were cool, calm and collective as they said, ‘come on over, we will make a paddle right here for you’.

I’ve now used Bending Branches in all my latest excursions and with no avail. They are sturdy but light and accommodating to all heights.

I bought 10.   One of which is so beautiful, I can’t bear to use it and is a fixture in my living room.

What’s in your toolkit?

First of all, one ought to have a toolkit. If you’ve heard of the phrase, up creek without a paddle, you will understand that preparedness is the key to a successful paddle excursion.

My toolkit isn’t fancy, but it is practical. In fact, most of the items I have listed below I swooped up at a warehouse sale or goodwill. The links to Amazon are for illustrative /descriptive purposes only.

First pack a smile, some back up items and may the best paddle be with you.

  • Screwdrivers (flathead and philips) & Allen wrenches:  If you need to change out, put on or take off your fin, you will need to unscrew it from your board. Unfortunately, fin screws are not universal.
  • Pliers– For the unruly screws and fins.
  • Screw sets– size screws and plates in case you lose them or need to replace. Most sets are the following dimensions:
    • Phillips head, stainless screw, 6-32 x 3/4″
    • Stainless threaded plate, 1/2″ x 5/8″
  • Or you can try this!  SBS – “No Tool” Stainless Steel hardware… No tools needed, except sometimes a needle nose pliers.
  • Rope: Thin nylon cord rope to construct ties for your boards. You ties can be used for leashes or anchoring down weights.
  • Weights: 5lb dumbells work the best!
  • Bungies: Bungie cords come in handy for tethering boards together or even strapping teaching materials down to boards if you need to go out on a longer paddle.
  • Duct Tape: In the bad case you gouge your board, use tape to cover to avoid water in your board until you are able to repair.
  • Rail Tape: I recently started using this on the nose and sides of my boards. Folks seem to run boards up the shore and into docks like an old aluminum canoe. This helps prevent chipping and damage.
  • Epoxy kit– For board repair and up keep. I use Solarez UV Cure for easy quick repairs:
  • Box knife: To cut rope or bungies and even tape.
  • Extra Fins/Paddles:  And of course, if you are an avid SUP-er, you probably need an extra fin, paddle and leashes. They tend to go missing! My recommendations are: