coastal british columbia  

Seven days of Stand Up PaddleBoarding:starting out  

T headed out - photo from the office window
T headed out - photo from the office window

My earliest memories go back to the late '50s. I'm a toddler on the beach at the cottage, I'm in the water, I always want to go further out but of course I always sink and the best I can do is dog paddle. I can't remember a time when i couldn't swim and I was always very comfortable under water, but I would lie on our dock and look out over the water's surface and think why only in winter? I want to walk and to the islands. I want to walk out to the neighbors raft with the trampoline on it. Most of us know you cannot build Styrofoam pontoons for your feet and walk on water but I always wanted to. It's not some messiah complex. It's far more pragmatic than that. I would just like to get around on water as conveniently as on land.

Well my friends, I think I have my wish and its name is SUP.

We got a pair of Glide touring Stand Up Paddleboards. 12.6" x 30" x 6". They are wide and stable on the water and at 35 pounds they handle easily for their size. We picked up a couple of adjustable length paddles and a set of wheels to run them down the road to the beach.

Watched the video on MEC's web site [twice] and;

Day 1

My first run was about 1 km down the shoreline with the falling tide and into a 4inch chop. I did what the MEC video suggested and started out on my knees and stood up after I figured out the paddling and got used to the motion of the board. The wind really catches the board and me. Just like a canoe, if you keep the SUP just off the wind, you only have to paddle on one side. The wind will keep you true.

evening glass - about 2 km: I read somewhere that SUP was unique and that other skill sets for non transferable. What a pile of crap. All canoe strokes and paddle grip apply. Stand straight up, fall straight down. How many sports have you learned that in? Balance is easier when in motion. I'm thinking keep your knees bent, keep your nose centered over the board, and lower your center of gravity at the first sign of adrenaline.

Day 2

morning glass 2 km:

evening glass - about 2 km:

Day 3

morning glass 5+ km: I have been prone paddling out front here for nearly two dozen years. Never have I made it up to the head of our bay. Made it up and back down the far shore to Page point. I would have kept on going but the tide was dropping and there's a soft mud bottom to walk home through if the low tide catches you out.

MGW 2 km: my good wife dreams of walking on water. It's one of those recurring themes that visits her from time to time. She started down the shoreline on her knees and wanted to know basic paddling technique. The closer the paddle is to you the more power you can apply so you want the paddle close to the boat/board without it scraping down the gunwale/rail, It's OK to bump your board with the paddle while you learn but the goal is to just clear it. You want the whole blade of the paddle in the water for as long as you can comfortably keep it in the water on each stroke. Twice as much exertion does not always equal twice as much speed/distance. She started getting bored or brave and stood up. We were moving into a light chop and brisk wind and it started steering her towards the shore. "How do I turn faster?" I told her "start with the paddle close to the board and end with the paddle far from board. Push the board with the paddle stroke in the direction you want to go." Well she had been standing on the board all of about 10 seconds at this point, and apparently did not have the full feel of it yet, because the next time I look back she is just a splash and an empty board. I looked back too long because my feet went forward with the board fast and I didn't hang in the air for long. I'd really like to blame her for my first fall maybe I'll leave it be.

B said he tried stand paddle boards before and figured the slide forwards and backwards was more likely to land you in the drink than side to side.

So MGW got back on her knees for the rest of the trip down the beach and got a little more comfortable with her paddling. We turned and she stood up and we just raced down wind and with the flooding tide. We stop paddling altogether and just let the wind push us probably as fast or faster than we would be walking down the cobble beach 20 feet to our port. I can see that wind can make a big difference in headway.

T for evening glass: this was T's first time on a SUP. He's done a lot of board sports and stood right up on the SUP and never looked back. We paddle out through the boats at anchor across the bay past Page Point and back, about 3 km.

Day 4

morning glass 6+ km:this is getting really comfortable. My knees are bent less and I'm balancing way better. This is way better than walking on water. It's faster and cooler in the direction of the path is 'infinite'. No boat in the way, like the difference between a motorcycle and a car, it just puts you that one bit closer into the environment around you. I paddled prone out here for long time and its been kind of dropping off the last few years. I've got to say it's nice to stand up and look around. People on the shoreline wave and talk and that never happened much when I was prone paddling.

T & his girlfriend A: had fun and want to do it again

Day 5

morning glass for an hour: started to rain on the way back. Great big drops breaking the surface and gulping. The volume rises to a crescendo and falls off. I haven't been on the water enough lately but looks like I got the cure.

afternoon ripple for an hour: I'm getting wired on this. I could've watered the garden or gone out on the water. So maybe it'll rain a little more.

T for evening glass - about 3 km: T started out way back on his board. I watched him, stern way deep, plowing water for a long while before I asked him if he felt more stable with the bow out of the water and he said he was looking for more speed. I told him racers on water are always looking to plain as fast as they can. Can't go fast until you get up out of the water. If you're in a motorboat you hear the engine roaring until the boat plains, and then it quiets down and you go fast. He had been trailing me up to that point. He adjusted himself forward on the board, pulled out ahead and just generally pissed me off for the rest of the run.

Day 6

morning glass 5+ km: I used to like to run. You know when you get your technique down and your body is in good enough shape that you can run without pain, so there is just your breathing and your feet on the pavement. All the internal dialogue, the clutter of our day-to-day lives, replaced with silence. I think I am finding that again out paddling.

Day 7

morning light ripple 5+ km: didn't think I would go that far, but just kept going.

MGW 3+ km: this is her second time out and MGW was ready to go as soon as I got in from my morning paddle so we headed across the bay with a 3" chop hitting us sideways. She jumped right up on the board and set to adjusting her paddle, her stance and position and by the time we were turning into the lee of the far shoreline, she was standing up straighter, paddling better, and she looked downright comfortable. We followed the shoreline up past Page point.

The din of Saltair Mill felt quiet as we slipped in behind the first island and up the narrow protected channel. The tree branches and to the water on both sides and at high tide that looks like many Eastern rivers. We sat sideways on the boards and dangled our feet in the water and talked. What a deadly day. By the time we got back out into the bay the wind had dropped and we paddled home on glass passing through the impromptu collection of anchored sailboats, converted fishing boats, and the odd live-a-board. Every once in a while I'd hear MGW break out laughing. Great to see her enjoying this so much, and working her next paddle into her schedule. We do a lot of gardening because we have it in common. Probably more than we would ever do on our own. You have to put a little extra effort into the things you have in common if you want to keep building relationship and I'm just so happy that stand paddle boarding might be one of those things.

A young guy came out of an old sailboat and dropped his bicycle into the bow of a little rowboat and climbed in. Soon he was 20 or 30 feet off my port and exchanging pleasantries. "Morning" says he to which I reply "Morning". We go on for a ways, the three of us in a row and he says "look at that. You're barely paddling and you're keeping up with me". A moment later he added "I'm starting to change my mind about those things". I told him how much fun we were having with these boards. Over paddling prone, I just like to stand up and take a look around. I like that I am not sitting inside a boat, blocked by commonsense and self-preservation not to stand up and have a better look. I like standing in the middle of the bay on a glassy liquid plain that pulses with the energy of every entity that touches it. This is so much fun.

evening ripple - short of an hour: In *Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Phaedrus is walking with his son near the mountain home of friends. He sees his boy is end gaining, that is to say, his brain is a thousand feet up the trail ahead of them.

This stand up paddle boarding pulls me into the here and now. I find myself picking points out, up ahead, but it is only to steer by. I'm not in a hurry. I don't need to get anywhere and I don't want it to end.

Glide Quest touring Stand Up Paddleboard
Glide Quest SUP

A week in

  • SUP is easy to pick up. We were all comfortable within a few paddles.
  • We fell in the water a lot less than we thought we might.
  • It's not real strenuous. Without specific training we put in hours and just felt a light burn.
  • It's not a big core workout, but it's a lot of times, and we all felt was toning us right away.
  • It's a little addictive like rushing home to meditate. Can't wait for the next hit of calm.
  • I think we're paddling at about walking speed and we're just poking along.
  • I'm about ready to pack a lunch and break out of this bay


If you'd like to try out a Glide Quest touring/racing SUP or live in the area and want someone to paddle with, send us an email and we'll try and make it happen. We're on the north end of Ladysmith a few hundred feet from a public access. email us at

check out for more info on Glide SUPs

*Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a book about a guy taking his son on long motorcycle trip. If it is a book about mechanics it is more the mechanics of problem solving, motivation, attitude adjustment, understanding how different people approach the world and of course, quality. I read it when I was about 16 in school and again ten years later on beach and it was a completely different book each time. It armed me with tools that I use most every day. I recommend it often.