Over the summer I bought an Amazon Local deal for stand-up paddle boarding (SUP). Several of my friends on FB had posted pictures of themselves giving SUP a go at Lake Tahoe and various other locations around CA. I’m always up for a new fitness adventure, especially when it involves water sports. So, I purchased the $15 deal.
Ani and I arrived at HMB Kayak, and I was surprised to see that it was basically a tent on the beach. (I’d expected more of a proper storefront, I guess). We decided to forgo true wetsuits (there was no way I was going to try to squeeze into one of those) in favor of our dri-wik yoga pants and wetsuit jackets. One of the employees gave us a very brief (and I mean very brief) basic intro on how to paddle, and we were on our way.
How many of you are thinking that I should’ve chosen a tamer waterway for my first SUP experience, rather than Half Moon Bay, open ocean, on a windy day? Oh, and it was also high tide. Yeah, hindsight.
I started out on my knees, keeping balance pretty well. A few moments later, Ani had dropped into the water, and was having some difficulty getting back up onto the board. So much so that she needed the employees to come out and help her. All the while, I was still floating along, balancing on my knees. I was having a good time, amazed at my balance. I’d been out there for about 15 minutes. So when I was feeling super confident, I decided it was time to try to stand up.
Not a good move. I fell off right off the paddle board. After failing to pull myself out of the water and back onto the board, the way the guy had told me, I decided it was time to make my way back to shore and switch to kayaking. As I mentioned, wind was really strong, and it was high tide, so I’d gotten pretty far out in the 15 minutes I’d been floating on my knees. To get back to shore, I had to swim for 20 minutes, against the current, lugging the paddle board behind me (attached to my ankle). That same employee came out to check on me, and I assured him I was a strong swimmer, and didn’t need any help. Which was true – I swam back to shore without too much trouble, but I have to admit, I was very tired by the time I’d hit land.
So, I decided to try kayaking. Again, after very minimal instruction, I was out and trying to get myself into the boat, balance, and get out on the water. I fell out of the kayak a bunch of times close to the shore, but finally righted myself and found my groove.
I kayaked for about 25 minutes, and was really enjoying myself. I got pretty far out, was enjoying the sunshine, the ocean, the boats, the harbor, the sea lions. Feeling so proud of myself and lucky at the life that let me enjoy an afternoon of fun at the ocean on a Friday afternoon. Just as I was finding my zen… the kayak flipped over!
The current was so strong, and I was so exhausted from falling all the other times, as well as the huge swim, and I couldn’t even turn the boat right side up, let alone entertain the thought of pulling myself back into it. I had the oar in one hand, and was trying to keep a hold of the kayak with the other, while staying afloat. (I did have a lifevest on, thank goodness).
At this point, I knew I was too far out to get myself back to the shore. I wasn’t pancking, but I was a bit worried about how cold the water was, how close the sea lions were, and how far I was from where the employees of HMB Kayak could see me. Then the current started to really pick up, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to get back.
Just then, some women who were walking along the pier saw me, started yelling, and tried to get help for me. I told them I was fine, and that there was no emergency, but they said to hang on and that help would be there soon. I was feeling utterly embarrassed that I had to be saved, but I realized that it was true, I needed some help.
Luckily for me, a wizened, old fisherman with a small motor boat came to my rescue. When he pulled up, I told him I was too heavy for him to lift up, but he assured me that he could get me out. He pulled me out of the water, and I was angled directly into his lap. Awkward! But I wasn’t worried about it at a time like that. He got me into his boat, made sure I was ok, which I was, and brought me back. When I told him how embarrassed I was, he said that on the open ocean, things can go from “fine” to “bad” in no time. And I know he’s right.
I was just grateful to have his assistance, and to make it back to shore safely.
All in all, I am glad I tried it, but my adventure helped me realize a few things:
- I need to do more research about the company I use. HMB Kayak was terrible. They gave little instruction, sent me out ill-prepared, and I’ll never use them again.
- My next SUP/Kayak will be done on a lake or smaller body of water. The ocean is way too rough for a beginner.
- I am strong. I have come so far, and I have so much to be proud of. When I look at myself in this photo, I notice significant changes in my body. I have a ways to go, but I am happy with the way I look now.