a peek inside the fishbowl

27 Apr, 2024

The summer of SUP 

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Ottawa

I am now the proud owner of an 11ft inflatable stand up paddleboard, aka a SUP, which means I can go around saying things like SUP GIRL etc etc. to the consternation of poor Mark and the kids.

We rent kayaks when we go camping every year, which I enjoy as well, but the SUP has even greater appeal to me. While there are kayaks that you kinda perch on top of, and kayaks that you lower yourself down into, in both scenarios you are stuck sitting on your bum with your legs sticking out in front of you. And that’s FINE, sure, but a SUP is completely flat, like a surf board. You can stand, sit down cross-legged, sit with your feet dangling in the water, kneel, and even lie down. Some people even do yoga on their paddle boards. I can’t quite imagine having this kind of balance, but maybe someday.

This is me on a SUP last summer at Bonnechere Provincial Park, clearly living my best life:

Me on the SUP at Bonnechere PP in 2023

I was skimming the photos from this trip and there were quite a few snapping turtles in the mix, which reminded me that the paddle board is a nice vantage point for wildlife sightings.

For me, the SUP is about relaxing as much as it is about fitness. It does require some work to paddle in a forward direction, and of course, the whole experience relies heavily on having good balance. (CORE muscles, folks!) But seriously, one of the best things ever is paddling away from a busy beach and lying down in the middle of a lake. No bugs, no sand in your face, just the gentle rocking rhythm of the water. It is heaven on earth. Friends, this is my happy place. And I can even BRING SNACKS WITH ME. Unbelievable.

The SUP is exercise and rest, a workout and a meditation, and everything in between, and I think that’s pretty cool.

Having an inflatable SUP means I can easily transport and store it. While some people keep their SUP inflated all summer, the length of this thing means I don’t have an easy place to store it if it’s inflated.

The list of places I want to SUP is about the length of my arm so far, and growing. Half of them are along the Ottawa River. Westboro Beach is about 5 minutes away by car. There’s also Britannia Beach and Shirley’s Bay. Did you know you can paddle board behind Parliament Hill?? Eastward there’s Petrie Island, of course. And let’s not forget Mooney’s Bay and Dow’s Lake. And then there’s the Quebec side… ahhh! So many options within a metaphorical stone’s throw.

What I would really like to do is go to a place where there’s a kayak rental, so Mark and I can enjoy some time on the water today. There are Ontario Parks sites nearby that have this, which is another option for destinations. Speaking of which, we had the good fortune of snagging our dream site at the Achray campground in Algonquin Park this summer, so me and my board will be tooting around the lake there for sure.

But the time being, I’m going to focus on places with little or no motorboat traffic. I’ve been out on a board maybe a dozen times but I feel like I need to get better. And although I’ve never fallen off a SUP I should practice getting on one while in the water. (And yes, I will make sure to wear a life jacket. I caught a great sale at MEC and bought a new one.)

Anyway, it’s shaping up to be the summer of SUP, and I couldn’t be more excited about it.


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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (24) and Sarah (22). During the day I work as a writer at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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