When standing up, you see everything that a kayaker or canoeist gets to see, and more. You have a distinct vantage point that allows you to see farther below the surface, depending on the water conditions. For people who are interested in fishing, snorkeling or diving, stand-up paddleboarding is a great way to scout for new places to enjoy.
As I mentioned in the last blog entry, since I started stand-up paddleboarding I have been getting a new appreciation for waters I have canoed and boated and waded in for many years. It has been interesting to note the sights and sounds.
I’m fortunate to live close enough to the river that I can leave work at lunchtime, paddle for about 40 minutes, and still make it back to work in an hour. I am amazed at what I have been seeing in those short excursions. In one spot, I’ve found old wood and rock cribs that were left over from the days when the river was used extensively for floating timber to mills. Last week, I found a sunken aluminum boat.
But the natural wonders are the best. I’ve noticed that I can get close to most fish, but when it comes to birds and other wildlife, there’s something about someone standing on two feet that must say “predator” to them. They seem to get unnerved quickly.
No matter, I still get plenty close enough to enjoy it all. A few weeks ago, I was chasing schools of whitefish that were slurping bugs off the surface of the river, which was like glass. Last week, I cruised by an old wooden wreck along the shore. The shadow of my board on the deep side sent minnows flying out on the shallow side. They must have figured a giant pike was coming in for lunch.
The same day, a pair of ospreys were chirping their annoyance at me for getting too close to their nest. A nearby eagle was chirping, too. It seems strange to describe their call as a “chirp,” but that’s exactly how it sounds.
All of the river’s sounds seem especially rich on a paddleboard. If I head out in the morning, the water is usually flat, but at lunchtime there is a little chop. Moving into the waves – or ripples, depending on where you’re from – the sound of the board slapping on the water drowns out a lot of the surrounding sounds except maybe for the deep chugging of a lake freighter headed upriver.
But turn with the wind and everything becomes much quieter, instantly. Now you can hear more birds, conversations on the shore, fishermen in boats cursing their bad luck, and wind rushing over the reeds. You can still hear the water meeting the bottom of your board, but it has a completely different sound and feel to it when you’re running with it instead of against it.
I’m a lucky man to be able to squeeze all of that into a 40-minute tour of the river.
~ Tom Pink