So, earlier this year I found a new love for sport in the form of paddleboarding after taking a lesson with my mum (you can read more about that here). A number of sessions later, here we are with boards of our very own, heading out on exciting adventures on as many weekends as possible and having the time of our lives (well, most of the time anyway). When I say most of the time, what I mean is that I have discovered the not-so-glamorous side of paddleboarding in recent weeks, and some things that no one seems to tell you before you get committed… Who can relate?
1. Wetsuits are the devil.
Wetsuits are often ridiculously difficult to get on, in fact, I own a paddleboard but not a wetsuit because I simply cannot find one that fit my fat feet through and doesn’t sag around the bum and back. It’s basically a full workout to put them on in the first place, let alone getting them off! I was recently given a top tip on using Vaseline to help slip the legs on, but am yet to try this out for myself; will keep you updated.
2. The sea is a cruel mistress.
Ok, so someone did tell me this, a few hundred times. As much as I knew the sea could be dangerous, until having an incredibly scary experience being swept away by the sea into some rocks within minutes of heading out (not even being over-dramatic or anything), I didn’t really comprehend how dangerous and unexpected it can be. The experience taught me a lot, and showed just how inexperienced I was, and although we survived, it massively knocked my confidence in the water.
3. Owning your own board isn’t as fun as you might think.
We had a few sessions in our local area at Croyde and Watermouth Cove before investing in our own boards, and they hand you a lovely fully inflated board, paddle, wetsuit and whatever else you need and you’re free to enjoy yourself. However, with your own board and kit, there’s the cleaning, maintenance, transporting and a whole other lot of hassle, and I’ll get onto that in my next point…
4. Inflatable paddleboards are a two-sided coin.
I LOVE the feel of standing on an iSUP, they feel so much sturdier and safer than traditional hardboards, and that’s why when I invested in my own board, I opted for an inflatable alternative. However, the effort it takes to pump the board to the correct PSI is RIDICULOUS. I am barely even strong enough to do it by hand, and the few times I have done it, it’s taken far too long (nearing an hour). We’ve not got an electric pump, which is an absolute life-saver… if only you didn’t have to do the hardest part by hand as the pumps limit it still 3 psi too low…
5. Inflatable paddleboards are heavy.
Again, all for iSUPs, love them, but when you’re walking what feels like miles from the car to the waterside their weight is inconceivable heavy. I have a small-ish board (10,0”) and find it’s a challenge and I have to swap arms on most trips. My mum’s board however, (10,10”) is a whole other ball game, I can walk approximately 10 steps before I feel like I’ve been lugging round a set of 100kg dumbells for a day. On the plus side, those bingo wings should be gone in no time, right?
6. Standing up might be easy, but there’s a lot more to learn.
Going back to my point about the sea being a cruel mistress, my struggles in the water came largely from a lack of knowledge of tides, wind speeds and a whole host of other things. I had checked out all of these things beforehand, but had no idea what I was looking at really, and had I have known, I probably would have decided that it wouldn’t have been the safest idea in the first place. When the weather is perfect, there isn’t so much to worry about, and with the glorious summer we’ve been having, I was lulled into a false sense of security, so am very eager to learn what is, and what isn’t safe weather to board in.
7. Sand just gets EVERYWHERE, I mean literally everywhere.
My car being filled with sand is one thing, fine. My feet being covered in sand is another, again, fine. But when you’re finding sand on/in every single millimeter of your skin it gets a little annoying. It’s one of those things that you can rinse of and rinse off, but some little grains still seem to be lurking about somewhere. That’s not even getting my started on the whole shoe fiasco… I usually wear flip flops, but with the summer having drawn to a close, I’ve had to move into trainer territory, and once you’ve worn a trainer to the beach, you’ve essentially damned it to sandy hell for the rest of its life.
8. Be wary of your sunglasses.
I love sunglasses at all times of year, they’re an accessory that helps you to see, helps your hair look better on a lazy day, make you look cooler in every circumstance. No one ever told me when I first started that it was likely I’d lose my glasses, and because I didn’t fall in until around my 4th/5thadventure, I hadn’t even really considered the risk of losing my favourite sunglasses. That is until my other half lost his expensive pair of Ray Bans in Theoule sur Mer after the woman had specifically mentioned that if we fell we should be sure to hold our sunglasses to our faces… I still haven’t lost a pair to be fair, but it has come a little close for comfort a few times.
9. Paddleboarding is exhausting.
While you’re out paddling, you can often go let an hour or two slip by with little to no notice. Yes, your arms might be a little tired but you really don’t notice quite how much of an energy drain this full-body workout is until you get out, pack the boards away and finally sit down. Then, it hits you like a brick wall and makes you feel like you could sleep for WEEKS. It really is exhausting! I’m guessing your stamina will build, but the low impact nature of this sport just means that you barely notice how hard your body is actually working until the very end.
I could go on with this list forever, I don’t think I was particularly well informed before I went out paddleboarding for the first time and have had a pretty steep learning curve so far. I still love it though and am excited for the adventures to come (although still a little scared from my near death experience). Have you ever been paddleboarding? I’d love to hear about your experiences!
P.s. I am SO sorry to the poor soul who I took out with me on the most dangerous expedition around, a girl who had never paddleboarded before and was ridiculously brave the entire time. Can’t wait to write a book/film about this and make our millions!