Looking for a Change of Pace? Start Paddling!
Local business owners discuss kayaking, paddle boarding and more
Whether drifting softly along a creek letting the wind move the kayak along, or standing on a board and paddling against the current for a solid core workout, water activities are a must-do or at least a must try— especially for those who live on the coast. Because the basics of kayaking and paddle boarding can generally be learned in a brief lesson, these activities have been gaining in popularity in recent years—particularly on the Cape and Islands.
“Paddle boarding, especially, is a fun sport and very easy to do,” says Jim Ballantyne, the owner of Sailworld Cape Cod in Buzzards Bay. “It doesn’t require a lot of skill but it is a great workout. The beauty is its simplicity.”
Trying either of these activities may be easier than you think—simply call a local equipment rental shop. Mike Morrison, owner of RideAway Kayak & SUP on Route 6A in Sandwich offers rentals, lessons, tours, and a concierge service for customers—delivering kayaks and paddle boards to local launching venues or a customer’s home. “The concierge service eliminates the hassle of carrying a kayak or paddle board to the launch site,” Morrison says. “It takes the poison out of the sport. I rent the experience and deliver the adventure.”
Morrison shared a story from a few years back when he delivered several kayaks and boards to a home in New Seabury. “When I got the call for the rental I was told it was for a birthday party,” he says. When he returned the next day, he learned the homeowner was Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots. “I was putting a tandem kayak back in the truck and the caretaker told me that Tom and Gisele had been using it the day before. I like to say my company is the unofficial supplier of kayaks and stand-up paddle boards to the Patriots,” Morrison says with a chuckle.
And these water activities are not just for athletes or thrill seekers, but anyone looking to get out on the water. In July of 2014, Ryan Hewson, owner of Mocean in Mashpee Commons, took a group of 10 women celebrating a bachelorette party on a private kayaking tour. “After giving them a quick lesson, we took them out to Red Brook Harbor,” Hewson says. “They had a great time and we finished the tour with a champagne toast. It didn’t hurt that one of the instructors is a Coast Guard rescue swimmer who is very good looking. The nine women in the group who were not getting married enjoyed that.”
Though kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding are both considered easy to learn, for those who want to engage
in these activities on a regular basis or take on more of a challenge, Morrison recommends lessons. “There are tips and information that you get from the lessons that will completely change your experience,” he says.
Some enthused paddlers are taking these activities to the next level, combining other sports and workouts like yoga or fishing, with paddle boarding as a way to create a whole new experience. “For the past five or six years, we have been offering yoga on paddle boards at Monument Beach,” Ballantyne says. The environment of the placid water with fish jumping and birds flying around lends itself to yoga’s serene movements and philosophy. “The poses and moves done on the boards are all related to being on the water,” he adds. “It’s a very unique experience.”
At Mocean, Hewson says the goal is to take advantage of the best that nature has to offer. “We have sunrise tours, sunset tours, and full moon tours,” Hewson says. “The full moon tours sell out all the time. This year, there will be two full moons in July making it a Blue Moon in July. That won’t happen again for another 200 years.”
Though the Cape is filled with wonderful spots for these activities, Morrison favors Scorton Creek in Sandwich. “The creek is ideal for kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, no matter the skill level,” he says. “I have some customers who like to go there when the tides are low and paddle down to the marshes or over to Craven’s Landing and then let the current bring them back around. I call it ‘Lazy River’ style.”
Looking for a bit of a challenge? Hewson offers a seven-mile stand-up paddle boarding tour twice a year that departs from Woods Hole and travels across the Sound to Martha’s Vineyard. “The weather conditions have to be perfect,” Hewson says. “A high-pressure system with no wind and the sea sits like glass. The first day we see that, we throw out a call on social media to let people know we are going to do the tour. We usually paddle out to the island and then take the ferry back. It’s incredibly rewarding.”