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:

Float your (house)boat yoga

Sure, you have likely done yoga at your house.  Probably have mastered boat pose.  But have you done boat pose on a houseboat?
It has been a dream of mine ever since visiting the canals and embracing the house boat culture of Amsterdam and  Sausalito, CA to combine houseboating and paddleboarding.  This summer, I did just that.
Launching from the Boomsite Public Landing just a few miles north of Stillwater, the public landing offers an easy entrance point to the waters of the St. Croix River.    Taking advantage of an early morning paddle will soon get you to understand why this sweet town is called Stillwater.  Something quite magical happens as you float southward, down the river on a paddleboard.  Paddling with the current, you will greet the Wisconsin coast on the East and obviously, Minnesota on the West.  Ecologically forward,  paddleboarding offer a blissful moment where you are allowed to not only see the sights but HEAR them.  Over this last season alone, I have seen more wildlife on the St. Croix than in my adventures in Costa Rica or Hawaii. Oh and the only emissions you will burn is your own calories.  From what I understand, the venture is about 700 calorie burn.
It is about a 2 mile paddle southbound to the docked 1977 Gibson Houseboat, “Poser”.  The Houseboat offers a floating rooftop studio.   Once aboard, yogis will experience a rock the boat flow as the currents of the St. Croix surround the vessel.    Going through a flow sequence, you can set your drishti (focus) on the view of the new bridge and the old liftbridge construction.  The Poser remains tethered in her dock during the rooftop yoga session and offers a safe and secure place to challenge your practice while she floats in the beauty of the St. Croix.

Typical Float Your Boat Session:

  • 90 minutes Summer Sun Vinyasa on Water
  • 45 minutes of paddle boarding from Boomsite Landing
  •  45 minutes of Sun Salutation on the House Boat
  •  Limited to 6

Paddle-cation: more and more hotels offer paddleboards (Updated 5/24/18)

Paddleboards abound. Bucket extra.
Paddleboards abound. Bucket extra.

Re-reading this post from nearly 2 years ago to the date, brought water to my eyes!  What a wonder it has been to be able to take the passion of paddling across the world.  Since writing this post, I’ve more than doubled my paddle-cation experience.  I hope after reading my experiences, I hope your vacation ventures out onto the water.

….Renewed post from 5/10/2016; all information has been reviewed and updated as of 5/24/2018

I travel a bit for my job. And I travel more for my soul. The window to the world’s wonder seems endless when you invite nature to be your travel partner. That just got a little easier. Hotels, resorts and even state parks are offering paddle board rentals! You just supply the energy, balance and zen.

After clocking 6,000 plus miles in March and into April, I decided to take note of some of the favorite paddle destinations (and a few that I just can’t get out of my head – even if I didn’t cover on this trip).

Arizona:  Lake Havasu, AZ
While I would much prefer to venture out to Havisuppi Falls, Lake Havasu is easy to paddle board around – that is if it isn’t spring break! Typically you can just show up, right by the original 1830’s London Bridge and there are 2-3 outfitters that will supply you with a board. We lucked out and it wasn’t crowded. We paddled out along the channel and down to the beautifully carved out land for a nice 3 hour run. The channel can get crowded and some experience is required as you paddle around those big motor boats. Rental information can be found by various dealers. 
Difficulty = Moderate

California:  Morrow Bay, CA
Thanks to a friend, I was invited to paddle out from into Morrow Bay.  It was likely, the BEST ocean paddle I’ve done to date.  It was a sheltered bay area, surrounded by estuaries, Morrow Bay was quite likely the best place to find yourself out in the water with the porpoises or in the reeds listening to the birds.  Paddle boards are available right off the boardwalk in the bay area and at most resorts. Find out rental deals through Morro Bay Stand-up.
Difficulty = Moderate (NOTE Difficult to not even possible in wind)

California:  San Diego, CA
San Diego remains to be in my top places to paddle and yoga.  One can find a nice easy paddle just off the shores of Mission Bay and La Jolla.  My recommendation is to go early in the am to avoid the wind and people.  Bliss has a paddleboard operation at both locations.  Feeling daring and want to hang with the crowded surf?  No problem – try your luck off of Ocean Beach.  And that’s what you will need.. a lot of luck.
Difficulty = Easy to Moderate (NOTE Difficult to not even possible in wind)

Costa Rica – Tamarindo
Firstly, let me tell you where NOT to go paddling–where the crocodiles live.  Lesson learned.  We saw a few cute little sharp tooth jaws sticking out of the estuary new Tamarindo beach before a guide steered us clear.  There are a few flat wave areas on the coast that are amazing to navagate, so long as the wind stays away.  Rainy season is best!  Dry is windy.
Difficulty = Difficult

Germany:  Berlin, Germany
What is more amazing than visiting the Spree River in Berlin?  Standing on it!  That’s right, even in Berlin, you can jump on a board at the Standup Club and float down the river, or simply enjoy one of their yoga classes near the floating swimming pool.  I recommend this for everyone, just to experience this part of the world from a water vantage point.
Difficulty = Moderate (Easier in warm weather)

Hawaii:  Kihei, HI
Most resorts, including the one I stayed at – Mana Kai, offers paddle board rentals.  Unfortunately, I spent more time in the water than on the board simply because the winds were high during my time.  However, early in the morning is best to take your board out into some inlets, see some fish, watch some whales and ride along with some sea turtles.
Difficulty = Difficult

Mexico: Cozumel
Cozumel is paradise!  I visited in the December time-frame, over the holidays, and found it to be the perfect temperature and surroundings to have fun on the water.  There is very few SUP options that I found, but Ha Haak Paddling was conveniently located on the beach, on the one calm side of the island.  It was the most tempered ocean Sup Yoga I’ve experienced.  The rental company keeps close tabs on you while in the ocean, which was nice since I was alone (NOTE: you should always paddle with a buddy).

SUP in Cozumel Mexico

Difficulty = Moderate (NOTE Difficult to not even possible in wind)

Minnesota: Crosby, MN
Stay-paddlecation right in our backyard.  In September, we packed up our newly minted SUP board trailer and ‘camped’ at True North Base Camp.

Paddling at True North Basecamp

While we anticipated being able to paddle from one lake to another without portage, the lake at the base camp was a pleasant little lake to take on your strongest meditation game and poses.  I understand that Paddle North now rents out paddleboards at the location.  So no fear – paddleboards are near!
Difficulty = Easy


Stillwater, MN
While there are no public boat /shore access in Stillwater – Boomsite landing is an option to traverse the St. Croix Riverway closest to Stillwater. The closer you paddle to downtown Stillwater, the choppier the water.  Lots of boats like to showboat and that isn’t always fun for a paddler. BUT, staying close to the landing and traversing north, you will find a beautiful way full of nature.     St. Croix Stand Up Paddleboard Company has a fleet of paddleboard which they will deliver to either site for a great price and insights on waterway navigation.
Difficulty = Moderate (NOTE Difficult with boaters)

Paddling the choppy waters of downtown Stillwater

Nevada:  The Westin at Lake Las Vegas, Nevada
Completely off the strip, this resort offers direct lake access from their sandy (man made of course) beach bay. You feel like you are in Italy as you paddle in the little bay and then under a tuscan bridge to the lake. Paddle boards are available daily to rent – and they are not those hard fiberglass ones. They have 11 ft. boards that allow you to do yoga quite easily. Call Lake Las Vegas Water Sports for more information and to make reservations: (702) 600-9860
Difficulty = Easy

Wisconsin: Apostle Islands
Paddling around the Apostle Islands can last a week!  It offers miles beautiful beaches and caves to navigate, that it is worth getting a board for a few days.  In fact, this area has been ranked the top 10 paddle areas in the US for years.  There is a reason why.  Apostle Island Rentals will deliver a board to your camp or where-ever you are lodging.
Difficulty = Easy to Difficult

Mind you, this is the short list of far away places.  Don’t overlook your local parks and state parks.  Nearly all of them have paddleboards to rent in the summer seasons.  Get out there!

Get on board this Summer!

Do I dare say it… the ice is nearly off the lakes and rivers!  We have some fun activities planned for the summer – LaunchintoSummer

  • Tuesdays  5:00 – 5:45 – Forest Lake Farmer’s Market SUP
  • Saturdays 9:00 – 10:00 am  – Boomsite Marina/Landing; Stillwater MN
  • Sundays 9:00 – 10:00 am – Houseboat Yoga; Stillwater MN

Check out the Class Schedule link above for more info!