Well Stu I’ll tell you, surfing’s not a sport, it’s a way of life, it’s no hobby. It’s a way of looking at that wave and saying, “Hey bud, let’s party!” ~Jeff Spicoli
Since the day our family rented paddleboards to cruise the salt run along Anastasia Island State Park in St Augustine, Florida, I have wanted to own one. Long after the teenager headed back to the beach to chase crabs in the sand, I was still out paddling, watching the water for the dolphin that had been swimming with us periodically, and bird watching. It was a great workout, all the stabilizing muscles that had to work at keeping me upright as well as my arms and legs got to feel the burn. That was three years ago and paddleboarding had not yet caught on here in the interior.
Two years ago I noticed a local outdoor store was holding Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) demo days, then another outfitter began selling them, and they started renting them to use on area lakes. We first covered SUP last September. The annual Arkansas River Canoe & Kayak Race added a SUP category recently. This year an outfitter specializing in paddleboarding opened in Northwest Arkansas on Beaver Lake. The sport is growing and gaining attention here in the heartland and I couldn’t be happier. So a few weeks ago I went out to a demo day and tested three boards. The experience solidified my desire to own one.
Last week, after much deliberation about adding yet another hobby to my gear closet, I got the hookup from our friends at Ouachita Outdoor Outfitters. They have some beautiful boards in their store, lightweight composites and whitewater boards, but I needed something sturdy to take out on flatwater and lakes. A) I tend to be rough on equipment. Ask my bike mechanic. B) the plan is to carry it around to share the joy of SUP with family and friends. We have semi regular gatherings at my in-law’s lake house with as many of the nine grandkids as possible and every last one of those water babies will want a turn. I purchased a Hobie DuraSUP. The website describes it as perfect for a “rental fleet, demo board or rugged terrain” so I can only assume it’s going to stand up to my abuse.
I suspect my adventurous mother-in-law will want to give it a go too, she loves to kayak out on the lake in the quiet of the dawn. The first adventure with my new toy began at Lake Catherine State Park. I put in at the Marina in the no wake zone and paddled in the coves around the swim beach and the cabins. I got a lot of confused stares and a few questions. The most asked question was “where did you get that?”. I told them to go see Jeremy or Jake at Ouachita Outdoor Outfitters. Be prepared, they might convince you that it would be a good idea to shoot for a paddleboarding 1st like descending the Little Missouri on one.
So go see our friends at Ouachita Outdoor Outfitters. Let them be your guides to getting on the water for great fun and adventure as well as a great workout.