Is it hard to balance on a standup paddleboard?
Some basic balancing skills are required - but this truly means just being able to distribute your weight evenly between your two legs. Your mind and fear are what make you often lose your balance!
Stay calm, if able, get onto your board in as shallow of water as possible. Use your paddle to help you - use one foot to stabilize the board (lightly holding it in place) - and then place that foot on the far side of the board, use your paddle to help boost your other foot onto the board and continue to use your paddle to help stabilize yourself if needed.
Where do I stand once situated?
Position yourself in the middle (typically where your handle is) or slightly in front of that. Your body weight will help you determine if you should be up further or back further. Your board should glide through the water and handle waves calmly. Again, distribute your weight as evenly as possible between your two legs/feet.
Can I kneel or sit?
Yes you can! The paddles are adjustable height-wise, so you can make them pretty comfortable for paddling even while kneeling. It is wonderful to take a break and sit down, stretch out your legs, and embrace the calm beauty of your float.
Are the paddleboards heavy?
No - our paddleboards weigh 30 lbs. They have convenient handles near the middle of the board for one to carry, or you can tag team them by each carrying an end. We prefer that the boards not be drug if possible, but doing so in a grassy area if necessary will usually not harm the boards. Cement and rocky areas are not recommended for dragging.
Do paddleboards tip easily? How do they handle wavy waters?
They are extremely stable. They require little guidance when in wavy waters. They really just flow over the waves. You can certainly position yourself however you wish and "surf" the waves if you'd like or just let the wave take the board over - it is a calming feeling.
Are kayaks difficult to get into?
There are many styles of kayaks and they require different movements to get into. It is again important to distribute your weight evenly between your left and right side. Your paddle needs to be secured on or in the kayak, or in your hand, but it is best if you can have your paddle on the kayak and ready to go. Use your hands to help you climb in. Depending on the setup of your kayak, there may be some wobbling involved. Do not panic - staying calm is very important. Use your hands to steady the kayak and get both feet in and sit down in the middle.
What are the differences in paddling on a river versus paddling on a lake?
The Heart River and the Missouri River in our local area are very different from each other as far as rivers go! Both offer the current, which is lovely on a calm or minimally breezy day, as flowing with the current requires little paddling effort, providing for a relaxing, zen-like experience. You can paddle with the current if you want to make some time or just exercise a little. The direction of the wind, or course, can affect your river current experience. If it is strong coming against the current, you will have double the difficulty fighting the wind and fighting it pushing the current. Paddling on a lake does require more paddling, as you don't have a current to assist your float. Wind on a lake can assist you going one direction, but will likely affect you in a different manner going the other direction! Rivers and lakes both offer unique experiences.
Do you assist with planning day and/or overnight floats?
Yes we do. We, ourselves, have been on most all of the waterways in the area and have been camping on sandbars on the Missouri River for 25 years. There are many tools available online to assist with planning. Our website offers links to North Dakota attractions and the USGS site where water levels can be monitored. Obviously it is always good to check the weather for the time frame of your planned event as well!
What do you do if you are caught in bad weather while paddling?
You have to make judgment calls based on the weather situation. Again, be sure to know the weather predictions BEFORE you hit the water.
- If you are able to access weather radar on a mobile device while on the float, please do so.
- If you are getting nowhere paddling against the wind, pull off if possible to let it subside.
- If you can go the other direction and get a ride or go to another location, do so.
- Stay as near to the bank as possible, if you tip and fall in, it is much better to be near shore than in the middle of the river. Also, if you need to pull off, you will be that much closer.
- Get off the water if there is lightning.
If possible, rig your unit as a cover on shore while you wait out the storm. Canoes make wonderful shelters, flip them over and they balance on their ends or on one side. If you have a tarp, certainly use it to your advantage. Pack items in dry bags - this is a paddling essential. You can buy them at Walmart, some hardware stores, Scheels and online. If you have a kayak skirt, use it. These are amazing at keeping the cockpit of your kayak dry as well as your lower body. Bring lightweight rain gear - frog togs are awesome. Storms can come up during the night while you are camping as well. Anchor your stuff down at night (especially your SUPs). High winds can lift unanchored SUPs and other gear off the beach and deposit them into the river during the night!
What gear is best to bring on an overnight or two-night float?
Pack light!! Dry bags are the best. Garbage bags for gear can rip and just will not hold up. A lower-to-the-ground tent is great in case of storms. They are also lightweight and pack well. Camping pads are great. They usually self-inflate and are easy to pack and use. Tarps, rain gear, weather appropriate clothing, a hat, sunscreen, bug repellent, plenty of water, cooking items, daily care items, flashlights, sleeping bags, pillow, etc. Locating wood for a fire is important as well. If it is has been raining, it may be difficult to find dry wood on your sandbar. You may need to prepare for this. If the storms are bad enough during the night, you could be dealing with high winds and pitch darkness. Lanterns and working flashlights are essential. Bring extra rope and tent stakes for staking down your tent and gear as best as possible.