when i chatted with morgan a few weeks back about getting me up on the board and out on the water, we agreed that the best way to for me to get a grip on the board and feeling for what it’s like with TKS MIAMI is for us to get out on the board a few times and in different areas around miami. this would be a great way for me to determine and develop my skills, get comfortable with the board and perfect the techniques required for paddle boarding in different settings.
finding a work/life balance and living in a city like miami where everyone, every day seems to be on vacation sometimes seems impossible.
i agreed to escape from the office early on this tuesday afternoon so i could get in my first lesson and paddle with morgan. we met at the shop where i changed quickly into my suit and hopped into his truck to head out to the bay entry at purdy right up the street from their south beach store location. morgan unloaded the boards and parked the truck then headed back to meet me at the entry ramp, offering a little packet of sunblock in case i hadn’t applied any before.
we started off on land with him measuring my reach against the paddle for sizing and then moved into the need to knows on land. he showed and talked me through the ways to hold the paddle (blade facing out) placement of hands and methods for success with the stroke of the row. we moved on a quick peep at footing placement on the board (center of the board is best) and then pulled out boards into the water to get started.
this would be my fourth attempt at paddle boarding but this time i felt quite a bit of confidence just from my three minute on land intro lesson. morgan mentioned to walk the board out until it was all the way in the water then get on and begin paddling and once i had some momentum to stand up, this would be the best and easiest way to get up, and it was! he talked me through paddling with and against the currents, wind direction, how to take on waves in the water (nose first toward the wave and / or paddle on the opposite side of the board) and what to work towards (maintaining speed and working towards decreasing the start / stop fluctuations in speed).
i was feeling good, feeling confident and as we began to round our first set of yachts, morgan pointed out for me to to be aware of some waves coming in. i saw them, tried my techniques without success and fell (looking cool, like my friend derek instructed me to do via text just minutes before). no big deal, i came up quickly and grabbed my hat that had fallen, and saw my chaos had caused morgan to fall too and lose his phone in the shuffle. true to the temperament of this community, he just hopped back on his board with an oh well and we continued on our way up through the canal.
he talked me through, pointing out what was coming up, reminding me of form and technique and along the way chatted with fellow paddlers and some kids on kayaks giving them tips for success too. when we got a spot where the water was a little calmer, we stopped for a moment and went through some tips to note on how to recover or tackle some other challenges that may occur in the water like quick stops, changing direction, spinning around and fanning out. we paddled under the bridge and out to an area where there were a collection of under-loved small sail boats on moorings from the sailing school, snapped some pictures and headed back inland.
i had begun to find my way and become in sync with the board, water and paddle by this time so was able to keep up a little better with morgan’s pace on our way back with the wind behind us in my favor. as we got with in eyes distance of the entry dock, some bigger waves started rolling in and determined not to fall right before i made it back to shore, i turned my board and tackled them nose on, paddling slowly on the opposite side of the board. successfully, i made it closer and closer with morgan patiently waiting and we finished up our first paddle lesson, with a last look back into the water and happiness settled in my heart from the success i had over the past hour.
we ended the day loading up the boards and with a high five of shorts and made plans for our next paddle out in a week or so when he returned from vacation. from the first paddle to today’s the biggest helps were the key things to remember that were shared, the little birdy in my ear along the way reminding me of technique and addressing new challenges in the moment and the attitude to just get into it, have fun, and if i fell off the board to make sure i looked cool doing it.