A subjective account of an SUP odyssey

Published: Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 12:50 PM.

Stand up paddle boarding must be for surfers.

So I thought each time I eyed a paddle boarder gliding down the ICW and underneath the swing bridge as I, hot and envious, drove over the bridge in my truck.

I’m athletic, strong and, in my heyday, could do back handsprings on a balance beam. I’ve got the balance for this, I thought to myself; all I need now is a partner in crime.

Intrigued, I not so patiently waited for my 13-year-old niece Hannah to arrive for her annual summer visit to North Carolina before calling my friend and “Surf’s Up” columnist George Howard. He owns On Shore Surf Shop in Surf City and offers two-hour, all-inclusive SUP (stand up paddle boarding) lessons for $65 a head.

George was out paddle boarding the morning I called to inquire about scheduling a time to try our hands (and cores) at the sport, so I picked the brain of Chris who answered the phone. He helped me with all my preliminary questions, but advised me to wait and talk to the “paddle boarding guru” — a call sign, if you will, that I had heard many others use to refer to George these days. Clearly, I had called the right dude. (And considered, still am, changing his byline!)

Later that day Hannah and I were booked for a lesson on Friday afternoon. Check.

We met George at the shop for a ground lesson — basically, a hop on a freestanding hammock-like contraption, only with a paddle board instead of a hammock — to acquaint us with mounting, stance and stroke.

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