Some things you might have thought to do with your paddleboard
What can I do with my paddleboard? Most of us know the answer to that question. I paddle for the workout or to surf or explore. Those are great, but you can do other things with your paddleboard that might add a whole new dimension to your sport.
Paddleboards make great observation vessels. The fact that you’re standing means you have an unparalleled point of view. If you’re fascinated by fish and other marine life, a SUP is great! At the beach I’ve observed sharks feeding on baitfish and hung out with dolphins, manatees, and seals. All from my paddleboard. Back home on the Hudson River I’ve seen crab, bluefish, golden carp, and schools of thousands of fish!
Pro Tip: Keep your strokes gentle so you don’t scare the fish away. Wearing polarized glasses can also cut down on the glare to make your experience even better.
Paddleboards are also great for birdwatching. Not only can you get to some out-of-the-way spots, you can approach very quietly. There are some great waterproof ID guides so you can put a name to the newly discovered creatures in your neighborhood.
If looking at the fish from above isn’t enough, did you also know paddleboards are a terrific snorkel platform? There are many terrific snorkel sites that are out of range for a swim, but not for a paddleboard. All you need is a SUP with some tie-downs for your gear — nothing fancy. Once you go in the water you can tie your board to a convenient mount, or if nothing is around, yourself. (Use a waist leash to keep your legs free.) Your board is now a good visual marker for boats to see you or even attach a dive flag. Whatever you do, don’t leave your board untended. An unexpected wind or current might leave you without a ride home! And make sure your paddle is secure before you begin your swim.
A paddleboard is also a great play platform. A big all-around board works best here. All you need to do is let the kids take the board and… that’s about all you’ll need to do. Just keep an eye on them. Pretty soon they’ll figure out they have a diving stand, king-of-the-hill perch, observation post, splash castle, and whatever else their young minds can think of. I’ve had four of my children and nephews on one board, hand-paddling it up and down the beach. (Why? I don’t know.) Beach rules usually don’t require kids to wear PFDs, but or you might want to put a life vest on your little ones. Be careful that board doesn’t drift into deeper water, which you can easily prevent this by standing nearby and holding the leash. That way the kids can overturn the board to their heart’s content while you’re close by in case anything happens.
Everybody knows that a paddleboard is a great platform for yoga, but what about general workouts? If you use your board for exercise — which many of us do — why not add in some general calisthenics? Try doing sit-ups or crunches on your board. You think planks are tough? Try one while floating! Pushups get a new dimension when your surface is all wobbly, something I learned firsthand via PaddleFit!
As a bonus, the people on shore will be mighty curious as to what you’re doing. You might even attract a crowd. Some people even combine a swim as part of their paddleboard exercise regimen.
Speaking of swimming, a paddleboard makes a great safety boat for swimmers. Open water events require safety boats. Many have to be human powered because the boats operate right alongside the swimmers. Typically these are kayaks, but paddleboards have a few advantages.
The higher vantage point means you can spot a distressed swimmer easier, or one that may have strayed from the established route. (This happens fairly often.) A SUP has a couple of disadvantages though. Part of the job of a swimmer’s escort is to pass food and water to a swimmer. This is a little easier in a kayak because you don’t have to kneel down and potentially lose balance.
BTW, don’t choose a fast, narrow raceboard for this. You don’t really need the speed because even a slow SUP is faster than a swimmer, and the extra stability will help you serve your swimmer better. Tired swimmers can hold onto the nose, but if you ever actually have to do a rescue, make sure you know how to do the board flip rescue. This gets a tired person quickly out of the water.
And in winter, you can use your paddleboard as a sled!
There are also paddleboard games! You can do so much more than race. What about paddleboard tag? You can use the nose of your board to tap another instead of your hand — make sure your boards are tough enough for this! (Inflatables work great!) If you have some floats you can create a slalom course. You can use the same floats as goalposts for paddleboard hockey! Use those paddles to whack a beach ball down a watery field. What about paddle polo? There are accessories that will convert your paddle into a racket. These will test your turning and bracing skills, plus they’re a hell of a lot of fun!
I’m sure there are other fun things you can do with your board that aren’t listed here. Please let me know if you have any ideas and PaddleXaminer will be happy to add them on, with credit to you!