Saturday, September 15, 2012

SUP-tastic Day!

Behold: 5 rookies in this photo (and that isn't the entire crew!)
So... How much SUP if you could go SUP would you SUP if you could just SUP?
As Chris demonstrates, everyone started to paddle out on their knees but were soon standing like veterans
ANSWER: Well, lots.  This time we took out a pack of rookies to tackle Stand Up Paddle boarding for the first time.  From 3 to 43 years old, from Oklahoma to Ohio, our group was ready to rock on fantastically flat water.  One piece of advice: in the height of summer, when you know that 7 boards are needed, be sure to make a reservation! The crew at Jupiter Point Paddling was wonderfully accommodating even with 30 campers on site and life jackets everywhere, but were also very glad that I had taken the time to let them know in advance.

The weather was beyond amazing during an especially hot summer.  Slathered in sunscreen and wearing polarized sunglasses, we set out as a group with 7 SUPs - two of them bearing kids on the nose.  Jacen (3) is old hat with this now, but his 8 yr old cousin was excited to be out on the water for the first time.  The weather and tide were so forgiving, she even braved standing up all by herself.  Jace was so inspired, that he decided to stand up by himself too (pictured in background)!

Way to go, little Mak!
A short paddle out to the sand bar, and the entire crew stopped to check out some of the local wildlife.  Chris has a shell-covered sea urchin (pictured), but we also found live conch, huge sea cucumbers, and tons of fish.

The clip below definitely shows off the beautifully flat water and extremely low tide that morning. Most of our group was chilling out on the infamous sand bar, while my toddler is chasing down his dad. Jacen's biggest hero is rarely allowed out of sight anytime we go on an adventure, because Daddy is always up to something fun.

Stand Up Paddle boarding is quickly becoming a hot new past time around the world.  A recent article in Outside magazine (Sept 2012, pg. 34) breaks down the rising conflicts between SUP users and surfers (more on that in the future).  It made me realize that while I am part of this new beginner trend, we choose to play on inland waters for our SUP adventures right now - especially with a toddler in tow.  While I cannot wait to try open water paddle boarding for myself, I still believe that when going out for the first time keeping to the mangroves and natural areas is the best idea.

Chris and Stephen, already standing up like pros.
Taking a dip
Talk about shallow water!
One of the highlights this particular outing included a first for our little section of family too - our first MANATEE!  Normally manatees travel in packs, but this easy going gal appeared to be all alone.  I spotted a large, dark shadow moving towards my two oldest nephews and shouted for them to keep an eye out.  She meandered straight into our group of 7 SUPs and everyone stopped paddling immediately. We all wanted a chance to see the endangered animal without harassing her, and she made it easy by literally wandering up to basically everyone in turn.  This 5 minute interaction was my husband's first wild manatee sighting, and my first non-injured wild manatee.  Jacen was just in awe.  My camera actually died about 2 minutes before the manatee appeared, so I have to thank my brother-in-law Todd for taking this shot - and sharing it!

Keith & Jacen are on a 12' SUP, so this shows great perspective on just how big sea cows are!
 As our family fun came to an end, we even saw a spotted eagle ray cruising along the grass beds.  The water clarity was some of the best we have had all year.  Now that school is back in session and water is far less busy during the week, I am already planning a kid-free SUP excursion for the first time.

If you want this experience for yourself, as always I highly recommend Jupiter Point Paddling. The location and staff are awesome, especially with rookies.  You can make reservations by phone, via the website, and even through their Facebook page. This link will take you wherever you want to go:

This was a great way of sharing our new passion with family, and giving them a fresh experience during their standard Florida vacation week.  Even though they travel down each year, trying something new pumps up the fun for everyone!

Don't forget that family visits are about more than just hanging out during dinner.  The next time you are going away to visit family/friends, or they are coming to see you, take the time to plan out some new special adventure for everyone to experience. That is how the best stories, coolest pictures, and most remarkable memories are made.

-Callie Sharkey


alina said...

I really like your blog. I really appreciate the good quality content you are posting here for free. I was looking to buy an Pumps for SUP but was looking for all the characteristics. Thanks for sharing all the information with us.

Callie Sharkey said...

I hope you found a SUP! I finally got my own last year - a 10' RAVE sports with the very long grip so I can sit or do yoga without sliding off because my balance is less than awesome.