A Paddleboarding Misadventure

My friend, Owl, chilled out in front of the window last Sunday. Was he a sign or an omen?

My friend owl taking flight

Then, my family headed to Union Reservoir to paddleboard. Little did I know it would become a misadventure in oh, my God, scariness. Life vests are mandatory, and social distancing is a must, but even when taking precautions, life happens. 

Dan, Courtney, her boyfriend, Dan, and Lady.

Three Paddleboarders on Union Reservoir with a dog.

It started off as a beautiful day, but by the time we arrived at the reservoir, the clouds had gathered in the west and became dark and ominous. I used my mad skills to keep the rain from dousing our plans to paddle on the large lake. Wink. Wink.

The water was warm and welcoming. We let the wind do most of the work as we paddled into the middle of the lake. The storm headed to the east and was quickly forgotten.

I took photos through a protective plastic sleeve but they turned out pretty well, considering.

Courtney and her dog, Lady paddleboarding on Union Reservoir in Longmont, Colorado

It was cloudy but warm. A perfect day for paddleboarding in Boulder, County. Or so I thought.

Front range from Union reservoir

Then the wind picked up and the water became choppy. After years of experience on the water in canoes in Wisconsin, I knew that we needed to head back. It could take a while.

Compared to the large Costco boards of my family, my little skiff, constructed for river paddleboarding, soon lapped in the waves as I drove my paddle into the water to make progress. Any progress. My muscles strained with the effort. The waves soon became white caps.

None of these pictures were taken during the squall. I was too busy paddling!

Paddleboarding Union Reservoir under cloudy skies

When I made it to the nearest buoy, I turned around to check on my family. Danny and Dan were heading west while my daughter, Courtney struggled to make any headway with her sixty-pound dog, Lady, at the prow.

I was exhausted but headed back to help her.

By that time, Dan had paddled pretty far in a different direction, but I caught up with him and yelled, “You have to take Lady!”

Dan turned around and they met up. Lady moved to the other board and Courtney and I started once again to paddle across the lake.

This time Courtney had no problem keeping up and soon passed me. It took about a half-hour to get close enough to shore for the windbreak of trees to smooth the water. She stayed ahead of me and we stopped to rest.

Dan and Danny were nowhere to be found.

I took pictures on my phone and blew them up, but still couldn’t see them. I prayed nothing happened to them.

After another twenty minutes of panicking, Courtney waved to me. Danny was onshore. He must have skirted around us!

Once I paddled in, I thought by now Dan would be right behind. Nope.

It took him another half hour! With Lady on the front, he couldn’t keep the board straight and had to keep changing hands with his paddle. It hurt me to watch him.

Our one to two-hour excursion became four.

It was a workout, that’s for sure. We went home, grilled out, and celebrated our narrow escape.

A family celebration after paddleboarding an outdoor picnic and selfie with the Lindau's

My friend, Owl looked on as if to say, “See? You made it.” Definitely good luck.

Owl on Trellis in Boulder County

Next time? Everyone will carry a phone.

Some paddleboarding strokes:

J-stroke and C-stroke.

Both strokes resemble their letter. J-stroke on the left side of the board with the small swing to the left as you finish your stroke will pull your board left and the opposite on the right side. J-strokes may slow you down.

I don’t like to slow down!

After taking white-water canoeing at the UW, I learned the value of C-stroke. When navigating rapids, the person in the front of the canoe does all of the steering.

Cool thing about C-Stroke. You won’t have to switch sides to straighten out your board.

Since I’m righthanded, I plunge my paddle into the water about a foot or two from the prow, as far as I can extend, and pull it toward the board, then stop the stroke at my hip if I’m sitting, and at my body if I’m standing. Like drawing the letter C.

This stroke makes it possible to stroke on one side. The downside? I overuse the same muscles. I’m a spazz on my left, but I’m practicing!

Have you ever paddleboarded or gone boating? Do you like being on the water? Paddle board or Paddleboard?

A Paddleboarding Misadventure and a Few Tips! Pinterest pin with family paddleboarding. Dog on a paddleboard.

51 thoughts on “A Paddleboarding Misadventure

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  1. I know the wind can come up very quickly on big lakes. Potentially a very dangerous situation. You were lucky this time. Maybe don’t go out as far when the weather is “iffy.” Lucky that Dan was able to take over the dog situation.

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  2. Whew – glad everyone is SAFE! Water can turn on you quickly and have to have your wits about you. I grew up around water from a young age and was a certified lifeguard in my late-teens and early 20’s. I have saved a handful of people. Wind does not make a sport fun unless wind is required – biking into the wind is quite the leg workout as I am sure paddle boarding became a whole body workout and then some. Take Care and Be Safe – Happy Weekend – Enjoy 🙂

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    1. Wow! I’m impressed that you were a lifeguard. You must be a strong swimmer too!

      Yes, Danny and I knew we were in for it, but Dan and Courtney don’t have the same experience and we just glided along with them! Oopsy. It was such a workout. By the time we all made it to shore, the sun came out and the wind died down. Timing. LOL!

      Have a great weekend!!

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      1. Of course it calmed down as soon as you made it to shore. I grew up around lakes, rivers, the ocean at times, and pools. The hardest thing I have done in water is canoe out to the middle of a lake, fill it with water, get the water out while treading water (cannot touch bottom) and then canoe back. Part of water survival training.

        Glad everyone is SAFE!!! Enjoy your weekend 🙂

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    1. LOL! Thanks so much!

      Naya was on my mind when this happened and made it even more intense. It’s amazing how wind can make paddling hard even when we’re low on the board. I needed an outboard motor and will bring binoculars next time!

      Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve always wanted to try paddle boarding. It looks fun and like great upper body exercise. I have pretty good balance so I think I’d be okay with that part, but I have absolutely no upper body strength so I may have to stay close to shallow water.

    Looks like a fun day was had by all.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

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    1. It was scary fun and more of a workout in the wind. You would love it! When I first saw paddle boarding, I thought it looked lame but it takes balance and it’s great exercise for your entire body. I bet there are a few lakes around you but be careful of gators!

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  4. Scary! Glad you all made it OK. We live very close to where the Kennedy grandchild went out in a canoe to fetch a ball on the bay and didn’t come back. Mother Nature doesn’t play around. I get nervous at the ocean, being a lake girl, used to sandbars that stretch out a long ways–but even a small lake can turn nasty in a moment. I bet you were sore the next day. The paddle boarding does look fun (ordinarily). Now that I’ve kayaked (once!) I would like to try it!

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  5. Glad to hear there was a happy ending to your scary outing.
    I love being on the water. We live at a lake resort so we have a few options, a pontoon boat, a inflatable Zodiac, and a 2 person beach kayak. I love going out rowing or paddling, but haven’t made it out yet this summer. Crazy life, some pretty major house projects, and unsettled weather are to blame. I usually paddle or row alone so I have to be a bit choosy about weather. We are having some quick to appear, fast moving, crazy wind and rain storms this season so I’ve stayed ashore so far.

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        1. Weather has been hot but mild since June. We skipped monsoon season this year.
          Yes! It’s really cool and now that masks are mandatory, felt safe to go to Main Street and took a hike yesterday, 😷😎

          Liked by 1 person

  6. You get into a few scrapes don’t you Susie? Sounds a bit of a stressful expedition but all ended well. Great photos and I bet Lady didn’t get stressed at all did she during the whole episode?

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  7. First off how cool is that first owl pic of him taking off and then chilling in your back yard? That is very coool! And that’s very great that you were able to get out and paddle board during Covid! Even though it was physically intense with a little scary moments I’m so glad it turned out all right. When I did it for the first time I thought it would be super peaceful and chill… my muscles were working it! Ha 🙂 I loved your last shot! Thanks for the pics.

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    1. Thanks, Guat!
      Some of my anxiety came from Naya Rivera’s drowning. I have great respect for the water, growing up in Wisconsin and take precautions. It was a “whew” moment when everyone was back on shore!! I felt the burn the next two days. Paddleboarding can be a really good workout!

      Are you working on any writing projects?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes! That was so scary and heartbreaking to hear. A couple years ago I heard of someone I went to school drowned in a lake too. Man! Life vest for sure. No joke! Glad you took precautions though and ended the day with a nice meal.

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      2. I’ve been working on a separate project and it’s been slow with the research. Had a lot to cover but I did it! Lots of reading and now I’m hoping to get enough tech savvy to set up some interviews soon 🙂

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  8. Hi Susie.I missed this somehow but saw the post on your Facebook page. Just because your blog is titled Susie’s Wild Ride doesn’t mean you have to flirt with drowning to justify it! So glad you all survived to tell the tale over a glass of wine.

    To answer your question at the end, I have done quite a bit of white water rafting. Mostly it’s been on Eastern Rivers but the most exciting ride was up in your neck of the woods, The Arkansas River. We put in up in Buena Vista. I got pitched in halfway through but by virtue of my telling you this you know I survived. About two months later I was watching an adventure show on TV which informed the viewers that the Arkansas has more white water rafting deaths than any other river in the U.S. OMG!

    Also enjoyed your post on the mountain flowers….God’s country for sure.

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    1. Hey Al!

      I have to live up to the hype. 😂

      I’m glad to hear you made it out of the river alive. That must have been so scary. Did you grab a branch? How did you get back inside the raft?

      We went as a family down that river a while ago. Luckily we didn’t lose anyone! Looking back we took quite a few risks back in the day. 😅 Whew!

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      1. Sorry, I should have mentioned….I got picked up pretty quickly by another raft. They even recovered my paddle and got it back to me so I could help the rest of the way. Nowadays my biggest risk is going to the grocery store encountering Class 5 idiots with no masks. Go figure.

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        1. That must’ve been a huge relief!

          know!!! It’s illegal to be inside without a mask in Colorado now. We went to Pearl Street yesterday and I bought books at the Boulder Bookstore. They did temperature checks and everyone wore a mask, but it was packed with people! If breath causes COVID, I definitely walked through a thick cloud yesterday and hope no one was asymptotic. 😎🤞

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