Try Stand up Paddle Boarding!

by: Doug Alderson, Outdoor & Nature Expert

Georgia and Rick on SUPs I recently joined my friends at Lake Hall for some fun with stand up paddle boards (SUPs). SUPs are a cross between surfboards and kayaks. They look a lot like surfboards, you stand on top of them, but you paddle them with a long paddle.

For first timers, you start on your knees near the center of the board and stand up when you feel comfortable. Once you feel balanced and can relax a bit, you realize why so many people are trying the SUP. The water is inches from your feet, and so it's fun to peer into the depths. That's why water bodies such as Lake Hall and the Wakulla, St. Marks and Wacissa Rivers are ideally suited for the sport. 

As you might expect, there are several different styles of boards for the SUP enthusiast. There are the longer and wider boards for beginners since they tend to be more stable, and shorter and narrower boards for those who like more maneuverability. Turning the bigger boards is a bit like turning a barge. It's best to lean into the turn and drag a paddle or do a sweep stroke on the opposite side. Even then, it's not easy.

Doug falls in the water paddleboardingSo, after trying the larger, stable boats for a spell, I took a turn on a short narrow boat. An audience waited on the shore to watch the fun, sure I wouldn't make it past the lake's dock. I did! But as soon as a westerly wind hit me in the deeper water, I was rocking and trying to keep my balance. I successfully turned this more responsive boat around, but soon lost my balance and fell in most ungracefully. My audience would have been disappointed if I didn't!

It's easy to climb back onto a SUP, and once I was situated on my knees, I stood up... and soon fell into the water again. I was probably about 50 pounds too heavy for this board, but I was determined to "get back on the horse," and so I managed to stand up for the short distance to shore. What fun!

Now that I've tried the short boards, I can stick to the larger boards, and try the SUP for some longer excursions. Maybe I'll even try some yoga poses on a SUP. So, if you have a chance to try a SUP, take it!

Doug Alderson. Outdoor & Nature Expert from Tallahassee, FL Author:

Doug Alderson

Outdoor & Nature Expert


Doug Alderson is the author of several books, including Waters Less Traveled: Exploring Florida's Big Bend Coast (University Press of Florida 2005), The Vision Keepers: Walking for Native Americans and the Earth (Quest Books 2007), New Dawn for the Kissimmee River: Orlando to Okeechobee by Kayak (University Press of Florida, 2009), Encounters with Florida's Endangered Wildlife (University Press of Florida, 2010), and his newest book, Wild Florida Waters: Exploring the Sunshine State by Kayak and Canoe (Earthways Press, 2011). Additionally, his articles and photographs have been featured in magazines such as Sea Kayaker, Coast and Kayak, Wildlife Conservation, American Forests, Sierra, Mother Earth News and Shaman's Drum. He has won several state and national awards for his books and magazine features. Doug also works as the paddling trails coordinator for the Florida Office of Greenways and Trails.

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