My friend Katie Mayer and I tried paddleboarding for the first time recently. We'd both been curious to check it out for ages. When we learned a new business had set up shop at the Everett Marina, we finally did it.
Hydrology Stand Up Paddle started business in Everett in July. Erin and Dave Matthews are both certified stand-up paddling instructors and they wanted to share their love for the sport.
The day Katie and I tried paddling was hot and clear, with just the slightest breeze. We started in the grass, near where the foot ferry leaves for Jetty Island. Erin got us life jackets and showed us the basic strokes.
Then we headed down to the water. We launched the boards from the dock at the marina. I was a bit intimidated by the idea of getting on the board from the dock. Erin made it look easy, of course, but I was sure I'd end up in the water. As it turned out, I felt wobbly, but it wasn't that hard to get on the board.
After that, picking up paddleboarding was remarkably straightforward. Erin started us out kneeling. As we got used to the feel of the board and paddling, Erin showed us how to stand up. She did it smoothly and gracefully. Katie and I were a bit less graceful, but neither of us ended up in the water.
I've done some kayaking, and the basics seemed to translate to paddleboarding. Katie, who hasn't done much paddling, said learning to steer was the most challenging aspect. Still, before long, she was cruising around.
Erin took us on a paddle tour around the marina. The boards offer a unique vantage: It's as close as you can get to walking on water. We could see little fish swimming around below us as well as the gorgeous view of Jetty Island, the Olympics and the boats in the marina. Erin said she once made an 11-mile loop through the Snohomish Slough with her paddling partner, Jen Steele. The maneuverability of the paddleboard allows you to go places you couldn't in a larger boat.
As we paddled by, fascinated people on the docks and boats in the marina shouted out questions. One man joked that he'd lend us an outboard motor if we wanted to speed things up.
It was funny, but undeniably one of the joys of paddleboarding was the slow pace. We enjoyed meandering around the marina as Erin told us more about the sport and gave us tips. As we paddled, we saw seals just feet away and a mother duck with a baby scooting along behind.
At one point, Katie nearly fell off her board when she realized she was on a crash course with a docked yacht we both suspected was larger than her whole apartment. She recovered, though, and both paddleboard and yacht survived unscathed.
As we finished a loop, Erin's 5-year-old daughter arrived and asked if she could go for a paddle. Erin smiled and agreed to take her out later. All of Erin and Dave's three children have been on a paddleboard, and her oldest, the 5-year-old, can paddle one on her own. Erin grew up in Everett, and she remembers coming down to the water when she was a kid. She loves that she's building the same memories for her own children.
In addition to being a family activity, paddleboarding is something she enjoys just for herself.
“I feel empowered when I'm on the board,” she said. “I kind of feel like a badass. And I just really love being on the water.”
Paddleboarding is a great way to enjoy nature and explore, Erin Matthews said. It's good exercise, and it's also excellent for your core muscles, agility and endurance. It improves balance and is good cross training for other activities, such as running. While you can take a leisurely paddle, you can also go harder and work up a sweat. And while it's pretty easy to get the basics down, mastering paddling in all conditions is a challenge.
Erin said she loves the community she has found among paddleboarders, who are open and encouraging. And she said she hasn't found paddleboarders to be territorial, like people in some other sports she's tried. Paddleboarders simply want to share their love of the sport, and are happy to offer advice or tell newbies places to explore, she said.
“Anybody can be a great paddler,” Erin said. “Really, it's just getting out there and doing it. You get comfortable on the board and then you just push your bubble a little each time.”
Why try it?
Paddleboarding is a great way to enjoy nature and explore, Erin Matthews said. It’s excellent for your core muscles, agility and endurance. It improves balance and is good cross training for other activities, such as running. You can take a leisurely paddle or you can go harder and work up a sweat. And while it’s pretty easy to get the basics, mastering paddling in all conditions is a fun challenge.
Erin said she loves the community she has found among paddleboarders, who are open and encouraging. And she said she hasn’t found paddleboarders to be territorial, like people in some other sports she’s tried. Paddleboarders are happy to offer advice or tell newbies places to explore, she said.
“Anybody can be a great paddler,” Erin said. “Really, it’s just getting out there and doing it. You get comfortable on the board and then you just push your bubble a little each time.”
How to try it
Hydrology Stand Up Paddle will be at the Everett Marina, near the Jetty Island kiosk, on Saturdays and Sundays through the end of September. Board rentals are $20 per hour and include a short introduction. Lessons are $55 per hour, all gear included. They also offer rentals or lessons on Silver Lake on weekdays by appointment. If you’re interested in buying a board, they are dealers for Pau Hana Surf Supply Co.
Find them online at http://hydrologysup.com or www.facebook.com/hydrologysup.
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