One of the most fun things about SUP is meeting the amazing people who are involved with it. In January, when we got PaddleFit certified, we met Baltimore’s Jessie Benson. Next Sunday, April 28, she’ll be a special guest in Music City. With our own Liz Vehyl, Benson will be teaching one of her sought-after FloYo classes, which are combinations of yoga and pilates: on the paddleboard, of course. Register today, because space is limited.
For the first few years when we paddled around Nashville, people looked at the boards on our cars and asked us where we were going surfing. Kayakers and canoers had their events and the few SUPers we knew had theirs.
But things are different now. People shout “paddleboards!” or “YOLO!” when we drive by. We see other paddlers out on the water. And there are lots of paddling events that include people no matter what it is they like to paddle. So, Nashville Paddle Co. was stoked to be asked to participate in the Cumberland River Paddlefest on Saturday, April 13, presented by Paddle Adventures Unlimited. It takes place on Old Hickory Lake (876 Burnett Rd., Old Hickory, TN 37138).
There will be free events and activities for all manner of paddlers, canoe, kayak and SUP. Lots of clubs and non-profits who do work on our waterways, including TSRA and the Cumberland River Compact (to whom we donate a portion of our proceeds) will be there, too. Come join us!
Nashville Mayor Karl Dean is a big supporter of the area’s waterways and watershed, it is one of the things we like best about him. (He’s long been a supporter of the Cumberland River Compact and the Cumberland River Dragon Boat Festival.) So, we are stoked to join TSRA, Metro and others for a paddle with the mayor day on April 20. Paddlers of all stripes—canoe, kayak and SUP—will float down the Stones River. This is a 1.5-mile paddle from Stone Hall (better known as the Kohl’s parking lot) to Heartland Park, although you can paddle back to Stone Hall for 3 miles total.
To kick off the season and encourage people to paddle with the mayor, we are not charging to rent boards that day. But we have a limited number of boards, so e-mail us at info [at] nashvillepaddle.com to reserve a board (plus paddle and pfd). If you’d rather reserve a canoe or kayak, e-mail Neel.Deshpande [at] nashville.g
Let’s show the mayor what SUP is all about!
The outdoor temperatures this weekend were finally warm enough that we could hit the water for a few paddles—four miles on Saturday and another four on Sunday. It felt great to get out there, even if the water on Percy Priest Lake was just 47 degrees. One of the fishermen we passed said the fish start biting at 50 degrees. The fisherman wasn’t the only one wanting the water to warm, at those temperatures we really did not want to fall.
But despite paddling with great caution and making sure not to take a swim in that water, we felt great after paddling, better than we have inside at the gym during the past few weeks. That experience, combined with this New York Times blog post by Gretchen Reynolds, underscores the importance of exercising outside. There’s a 100% chance of rain in Nashville tonight, so we won’t be able to paddle outdoors much this week. But at least we now know that there’s some science behind the fact that we can’t wait until it is paddling weather every day.
If you are born before January 1, 1989 or if you are sticking to your SUP when on the water, you aren’t required by law to take the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) Boating Safety Exam. The certification is designed for folks operating motorboats and PWCs (aka Jet Skis) on the state’s waterways.
But some Nashville Paddle Co. and Nashville Power Yoga folks spent our Friday night at the Ellington Agricultural Center taking the class and getting certification, and our water-loving brains learned a lot. (I know! Exciting Friday night. Don’t worry, we had margaritas afterwards.) Our instructor was a good combination of funny and serious. He had some entertaining advice about what not to do with your friends when you’ve been out on the water with a few beers: “If you say to yourself, ‘Hey, this seems crazy,’ it is probably crazy.”
But he also gave us tons of serious, practical advice, too, all of which will be useful this summer. We may not be driving a powerboat or a PWC, but we certainly see them crossing our paddling paths. We all share the same launches, waterways and beaches, after all. Getting a reminder on the right of way rules for boating was useful. Getting the low-down on emergency rescue and other tips when things go wrong was invaluable. Getting the TWRA nod of approval on our new MTI inflatable PFDs was priceless.
We’d love to see more stand-up paddlers get this certification. The more paddleboarders who know the boating basics, the better.
Today was a “snow day” in Metro Nashville, which meant while most of the white stuff melted before noon, public schools were closed, and it decidedly was not paddling weather. Earlier in the week it was 60 degrees warmer. But there were 105 mile an hour winds that day, so, again, not SUP weather.
To keep up with (and improve) the balance training when not on the water, lots of folks use Indo Boards or the like. I didn’t have one at home, but I wanted to get in some practice during the rough weather. Being both naturally frugal and crafty, I decided to make my own balance board.
I took the trucks and wheels off an old skateboard a friend had lying around. For the easiest practice, I pop that on top of an air-filed exercise cushion and shift my weight. If you talk to me on the phone while at home, I’m probably standing on my “board.” Glue some wood stoppers on to the bottom (near each end), pop that on top of a cut piece of PVC, and you have a more challenging balancing board for rolling across the room (I covered the rough edges of my PVC in red duct tape).
None of this is fancy (as you can see from the photo), but it helps curb the SUP craving when the temperatures don’t cooperate.
The first two days of the week Margaret got PaddleFit Level 1 and Level 2 Certified, along with Liz Vehyl of Nashville Power Yoga. This is a great professional program that helped refresh some technique issues, practice water rescue, review board and paddle construction, and learn new PaddleFit classes that we can teach on the water this summer.
The next day Margaret headed to Crystal River, Florida with 40 other paddlers from around the country, including folks from YOLO Board, Radio Chum and Distressed Mullet. Thanks to the hospitality of Paddleboard Orlando, we paddled with manatees in the crystal clear water. Turns out, manatees love paddleboards, too.
Then Margaret went to Surf Expo, an industry trade show, where she bought new boards, paddles, waist pack PFDs and other gear to use in Music City this summer.
It is going to be a great season.
We’ve had an usually warm winter in Middle Tennessee. We paddled on Thanksgiving and Christmas hiked on New Year’s! No complaints here. But when the sun comes out in winter, we get questions about availability of rentals. Are we open? Are we teaching?
The answer is: It depends.
No one wants to paddle more than we do! We promise. But we look at more than the outside temps. We look at the water temps, the current, the wind, the water levels, the paddling experience of the renters and other factors. When the water is too low, there are rocks and other hazards. When the water is too high, there can be current issue, debris floating in the water and other hazards. We don’t want anyone to miss out on the fun of SUP, but we put safety first. If you have specific questions about a winter lesson or rental, ask us at firstname.lastname@example.org