I’m not really the kind of person to refer to people as “fam” (I’m just old enough that I suspect I’m using it incorrectly, or else using it after it’s already on its way back out.) I’m also not really the kind of person to ask, “sup?” so I’m just really killing it with this post title so far, huh? But it is also the standard abbreviation for Stand Up Paddleboard. I feel silly calling it a “sup” though. I can’t help it. But here we are. I think titles are the hardest part of this for me, and apparently introductory paragraphs are a work in progress as well, so let’s just pretend this hasn’t been a very rocky start and move right along.
The brutal heat of the family lake getaway finally broke on Sunday evening as a storm blew in. Under other circumstances, such an upwelling of wind and influx of leaky clouds would put something of a damper on a lake trip. Luckily our camping was of the cabin variety and not the tent variety so the rain and brief thunderstorm really weren’t a problem and the cooler temperatures were a welcome relief.
Of course, the wind picked up precisely when my Uncle Dan was ready to test drive the paddleboard. It felt a little mean to turn him loose at the boat ramp with white caps on the waves and a definite rain shadow visible in the distance. Luckily he’s an experienced kayaker and generally athletic, so the wind and waves were a challenge that he overcame without much struggle, but sunset and phone notifications of imminent rain sent us all back to the cabins pretty swiftly.
Earlier in the week when it was still warmer, Kalen and I took the paddleboards out in the evenings, launching from the boat ramp and exploring the coves immediately around the marina. If the ramp or marina had been much busier, it wouldn’t have been as nice, but Truman Lake is never terribly busy compared to other lakes, and particularly during the week, the traffic is very manageable (that is, almost nonexistent). We paddled to a brush pile where we often fish, intrigued by the top of the pile protruding from the water. We were both surprised by the complete lack of tackle caught in it, as crappie fishing often has a lot of collateral damage when jigs and sneaky minnows snag sticks.
One cove featured several large fish near the shore, presumably spawning, that we think were grass carp. One nearly jumped onto my paddleboard, but I was too surprised to get a good look at it, and I certainly didn’t get a picture (you’ve seen my skills, don’t pretend you’re surprised).
Paddleboarding coves is often very tranquil and relaxing, but I did experience rage for the first time whilst paddling. We had just ventured into a cove when a large ski boat zipped in with music blaring and making a large, inconvenient wake. My instinct was to flip them off as we paddled back out, but I refrained because I figured they could easily run me over with their boat. I’m sure none of you would do such a thing, because my readers are cool and considerate, but if you happen to be boating with someone less considerate, maybe tell them to not be a dickhead and at least turn the music down for 15 minutes while the paddleboarders look for wildlife. As it was, we paddled back to the marina because we were going to have to go more than one cove over to get away from the sounds of the party barge and by then it would be past time to head back anyway.
The next day was much more fun, though. Monday afternoon, a few more family members wanted to try out the paddleboards. Kalen and I were joined by my Uncle Dan again, my Aunt Leah, my cousin Maggie and her two little girls. We headed to the beach so that we could let everyone try the paddleboards in the adjacent cove and the girls could still play at the beach. Although the morning was mild and sunny, when we arrived at the beach and began to inflate the paddleboards, it had clouded up again and begun to rain. This was not the disaster it could have been though.
Firstly, it meant that we had the beach to ourselves. The rain didn’t last long and wasn’t more than a sprinkling. The skies stayed cloudy which meant that we weren’t too hot and didn’t risk sunburn (fortunate, because my rash guard shirts and sunsuit were all dirty by this point). The weeks of warm weather had also warmed the lake itself considerably, and even though the air was plenty cool, being in the water was very comfortable. The wind was a bit of a challenge, as were the waves that it created, but because the beach was empty, it created a great opportunity to practice paddling in more difficult conditions.
I normally wouldn’t suggest trying to paddle at an actual swimming beach, but since exactly zero other people were there, we didn’t have to worry about being in anyone’s way or running anyone over. The buoy barrier provided a little extra security, and because it was a maintained swimming beach and not a cove, there was no danger of falling on a sharp rock or being impaled on a submerged tree. Good news because I did truly fall this time. There is no video evidence, but if there were, I would share it with you, because it felt like it would have played well. I paddled out to the most windward corner of the beach and tried to stand, but when I was at just the right (or perhaps wrong) angle, the wind and a decent wave hit me at just so. I windmilled my arms and shuffled my feet and after an unreasonably long two or three seconds, realized I wouldn’t be able to save this and took a deep breath.
My family looked on from the shore with surprise and concern. And then I stood up. The water was about four and a half feet deep. So I got that out of the way! Overall, I’d give falling off the paddle board 4 out of 5 stars. I won’t be just falling off on purpose, but it was not bad, and even a little fun, especially if you have the ability to laugh at yourself and the security of not being impaled by a submerged tree. I still don’t know how easily I’d be able to get back onto the board if I hadn’t been able to touch the bottom of the beach, but that’s a problem for future me.
My supposedly waterproof phone pouch also developed a fault and when I returned to shore after my fall, I noticed that it was about half full of lake water. It’s worked fine in the past when I used it to attempt underwater videos as I paddled along, so I don’t know if it has a hole in it or if I didn’t get it properly latched. My phone is a new enough model that it can handle a fair amount of water without issue, so it wasn’t a disaster, but I’d rather not tempt fate and will have to examine the pouch further to see if I need a new one.
Over the next couple of hours, we all took turns on the paddleboards, and the girls even had a great time as we knelt and paddled them around the beach in turns. Maggie and Leah got the hang of it very quickly as well, managing to stand and paddle around. I was the only person to actually fall in the whole time, but I did only fall the once, so maybe it was a fluke. Yeah, that’s it.
We did discover something that had not previously occurred to us, and if any of you are considering getting yourself a paddleboard, it might be noteworthy. Kalen and I are neither very tall (I’m about 5’4″ and Kalen is about 5’7″) and the adjustable paddles that came with our paddleboards suit us just fine. Dan is much taller (taller than six feet I’d say, but I don’t know exactly), and so is Maggie (again, I don’t know exactly, but she’s taller than me), and the paddles were a little on the short side for them, even extended to their full length. They both managed just fine, but if you’re tall, know that you might be more comfortable with a longer paddle. You probably already were thinking that as I’m sure you’ve spent a lifetime ducking under door lintels and trying to keep your feet from hanging off the ends of beds. But just in case, keep that in mind.
And just because we all need it now and again, I leave you with this looped clip of a tranquil, sunset boat ride.