I have a ghost board. It’s true! It’s appeared in online magazines and Facebook posts, been part of online profiles and forums. It’s been seen by friends, fellow paddlers, and strangers. But nobody in my family knows it’s there except for me. You’d think a fourteen foot monster couldn’t hide for so long, especially in a garage where it barely fits. Yet there it is, lurking, the biggest thing in the entire room, completely unnoticed.
My wife Kirsten prides herself on being observant. She’s an artist, so you might say noticing things is her trade. She can spot an unwashed dish in record time or intuitively notice a crooked picture on the wall. She’s good, I tell you, but she hasn’t spotted the ghost board. She’s looked at it, touched it, and even laughed at it, but she doesn’t know it’s there.
Origins of the Ghost Board
How did this happen? How did “Ghost” materialize? The day I completed the Cape Cod Bay Challenge in 2015, she said to me she was interested in doing the event too. Oh my God, that made me so happy! Imagine, doing one of the most exciting events in my life with my favorite person? I even let her try out my Amundson 12’6”, my ride for the voyage. She liked it. She liked it’s stability, its speed, and even the yellow color.
And then my mind started thinking. What if she did the Cape Cod Bay Challenge in this board, and I got something else? This board is nice, but it’s kind of slow. It’s very stable, but for me it’s maybe too stable. Perhaps I could find a fourteen footer for myself, something used and cheap, and she could ride the yellow board? Hmmmmmm…
Of course she already has a board, a 2008 Amundson all-around, but this, I argued, is so much better. It’s like her old board except newer and faster! It has tie-downs and a sleek kayak nose! “This is the perfect board for you!” I cheered. An athlete like her (she’s a terrific distance swimmer) shouldn’t be tied down to an ancient (in SUP years) ride. You need something new, designed for the Hudson River but battle-tested in the stormy waters off Cape Cod Bay.
Kirsten was kind of convinced, and she liked paddling the 12’6”. We went on a family excursion with her riding it. She even named the board “Boaty McBoatface” after that British research vessel. (Inside joke — look it up.) I started scouring Craigslist for anything that might be good enough. The funny thing is that it’s hard to find good boards in my area. You’d think the Hudson Valley would be a mecca for paddling, but really the opposite is true. There’s a long-standing prejudice to even touching the river, so strong in fact, used SUPs are hard to find. A cheap fourteen footer would be like a finding pirate treasure. However, after months of scouring, a fellow paddler wanted to sell me his fourteen footer, cheap! I pulled the money out of my savings account and headed out to get it.
And I Didn’t Tell Anybody
Yup, I sneaked a purchase. The funny thing was, after I got home, nobody noticed. I kept expecting to be busted, especially since I didn’t even have a bag big enough for this fourteen foot monster. I was using an adjustable one, which was waaaaaay too small. About two feet of fin and board stuck out the back and the bag flopped around the sleek board like a garbage bag around an oar. But no, nobody noticed. Months later I bought a brand-new bag. Kirsten admired the bag and laughed at what looked like a funny face at the rear. Still, she didn’t noticed the huge board lying alongside Boaty McBoatface .
I was going to announce its presence during a conversation about next year’s CCBC. And then, disaster! Kirsten told me she didn’t want to do it. It would take up too much time and require too much training. So she didn’t need that 12’6” now, and I had a board I could never justify.
And so the Ghost Board sits in my garage. The funny thing is, I ride it all the time. Despite it’s age, this thing is really fast! I’m breaking my personal times, repeatedly. If only I could tell my wife I own this super-fun board! If only I had the guts to own up to what I did.
I’m working on accumulating “marriage points”. Guys, you know what I’m talking about, those credits you get in a marriage for doing something extra nice, like for doing chores or going to your wife’s 30th high school anniversary. One day my wife, or son, or daughters might look hard at my quiver and notice this slightly shameful secret. Until then, “Ghost” will remain the phantom of the garage, often seen but never, ever noticed.