Some quick notes:
HOTTER THAN HELL AT NOON AFTER EATING THREE SPICY BURRITOS.
We love the heat, and we loathe its brutal oppression. That's why we spend so much time in the water. Stand Up Paddleboards (SUPs) and kayaks are phenomenal tools to alleviate the sweltering gloom of elevated temperatures. Don't join a crazy sect that wants you to drink poison Kool-Aid! Go Paddle! When the thermostat shows 110 degrees Farenheit, it's time to get into the 75-degree lake. Quail Creek State Park offers a tremendous variety of shoreline, so, depending on water levels you might be paddling into the tree-lined corridor of the creek's entry on the north end of the reservoir, or you may enjoy SUP yoga in the cove on the NE section, just past the end of the no-wake buoy line. Cliffs look great on the east wall, and you can always file your fingernails on the dam. Take pictures, or it didn't happen!
PRACTICE LIKE YOU WANT TO PLAY.
Oh, you actually WANT to get proficient on your board? You want to be able to walk most of its length, do quick pivot turns, and actually paddle in a relatively straight line? The great news is that it just takes time in the water. A good coach can help reduce the amount of time that you spend, dramatically. The coach might be dramatic, too. Worth it. Look for events in your area or areas you plan to visit. There are usually clinics and training sessions that accompany paddle festivals and races, along with plenty of "everyday", friendly, neighborhood paddlers that are stoked to share their passion with others.
SAFETY FIRST. DUDE. SERIOUSLY.
No one need sacrifice their life for this sport. Exponentially increase your odds of surviving an on-water mishap by sporting a US Coast Guard-approved PFD (personal flotation device). Type 3 vests or Type 5 (CO2 inflation belts) tend to be used with frequency. Do some research, and invest the money in a quality vest. That $15 PFD you saw at Giant Stuff-Mart was made for $3.00 in a Chinese sweatshop. Are you going to trust your life to that thing when it is really needed? Work with the best quality you can afford, and upgrade when you can. You are worth it! SUP paddlers are not required to have ankle leashes used in most cases (that I know of), but it's a GREAT idea to use one; you should not have to lose your board to a high wind just because you were too lazy to take 30 seconds and connect yourself to it. Leashes don't float, but a good one should connect you to a board that absolutely does float.
PADDLE WITH A FRIEND.
Sometimes, you just need to paddle alone. I get it. We all get it. I like to think about it this way:
- Cold temperatures
- Light levels (daylight vs. sunset)
Know your thresholds. I can (now, but not when I first started) paddle into a 25 mph wind. I'm not going to do it if it's dark outside, nor if I'm alone. There are too many variables that could be devastating, should something go wrong. Basically, you are better off to bring a friend and be prepared for your conditions and contingencies. Make plans. Share those plans with people on the shore. If you are with a friend and a situation arises, guess what? You have a friend to help you out. In constrast, if conditions are great, you'll just have a great time with a buddy.
SHARE THE STOKE.
When people use their lakes, rivers, reservoirs, and ocean to recreate, they tend to get posessive, in a good way, of the environment and water they play on. Share your fun times on social media, and help spread the word about paddling. You'll help to build the community, and THAT is good for everybody.
Just bought a kayak or board? No problem. Rental operations like ours are virtually everywhere that there is water. Take your gear and your friends out. They can rent a kayak or SUP on -site. Then they can explode with glee, just like you did when you first dug in to take that initial power stroke.
BE GRATEFUL FOR EVERY DAY.
It's a blessing to be able to paddle at all. We paddle in the desert! It's crazy! We have four reservoirs of any recreational consequence, and a few smaller ones within our county limits. They are all enjoyable to paddle on and decompress, do sprints and intervals, fish on, or just lay there on the surface. However you want to paddle, do it with gratitude for the privilege.
See you on the water!