When preparing the move to England, we sold our two stand-up paddleboards. Oh, how it hurt! Two beautifully crafted 11-foot hard SUP boards that acted as artwork hanging on our living room wall when they were not used for paddling. Having to sell our BOGAs was heartbreaking. We had had such good times exploring the Finnish lakes and seaside on them.
Now that we’re more or less settled in the UK, we are finally in a position to buy new boards. The two boards arrived last week. I picked them up in my MINI and stuffed both of them in the boot of the car. On my own. No need for a roof rack. They’re inflatable and come with a high pressure pump, all nicely rolled up in these clever backpacks. Yes-yes, until this summer, I really thought inflatable SUP boards were a bit like those air bed pool loungers. Swaying in the tiniest of waves. Sandwiching in the middle when you stand on them. Well, I was wrong.
The hubby got a Naish ONE and mine’s Red Paddle Co Race. They’re both 12’6”. That’s 3.8 metres for us metric people. Very difficult to handle and have around if they weren’t inflatable. We live in a small flat on the third floor with no extra storage space. Now we can either leave the board backpacks in the car or bring them up the stairs and unload them in any corner of the flat. You can simply store the boards in the carrier bags.
This past weekend we went paddling twice. Our maiden voyage took off from Kew Bridge Arches with Active360. The setup of the boards was extremely straightforward. Carry the backpack from the car. Unroll the SUP body and start pumping. The first couple of minutes were a breeze. But with a volume of 340 litres, I was sweating heavily when approaching 10 psi. The boards can be inflated to 15-25 psi. Definitely a good warm-up exercise. With a few breathers, I was able to bring the board up to 16 psi in about 10-15 minutes. I got the hubby to install the tracking fin, but it seemed easy enough. No tools required. And equipped with buoyancy aids, off we go on the Thames.
Paddling on the Thames is still unfamiliar to me. A tad scary even. The water’s murky, there’s tidal changes, currents and streams. Plus, I have no idea how to deal with the busy river traffic. It’s not like on the lakes of Finland, where I could paddle for hours and see no traffic besides naked people running from saunas and jumping into the lake. Going with a group gave me some reassurance. Paul from Active360 provided excellent practical tips and guidance. He knows the river inside out.
It was a perfect summer day for paddling. Standing tall on our boards, we took a leisurely pace to Richmond and stopped there for some refreshments. Sunscreen was essential. A refreshing dip would have been nice. Even though some claim that the River Thames is the cleanest river in the world that flows through a major city, I did not even want to rinse off my sweaty palms in it. Heading back towards Kew Bridge, the tide helped us kindly along the way. Just one hiccup on the trip, I was almost run over by some rowers. Getting tangled up in those long oars and blades would have been painful. I never did appreciate the fact that rowers face away from their rowing direction.
Having checked the weather forecast for this week, I can look forward to some evening board meetings on the non-tidal part of the Thames, which coincidentally starts at Teddington Lock. It’s a 10 minute walk away with my SUP backpack. SUP’s up!