'SUP' - the start of a new hobby?!

How do you get from 2 weeks walking, scrambling and climbing in the snow in Scotland to paddling along the River Hamble in Hampshire and what is SUP anyway?

Well the answer is fairly simple!  On the long drive back from Scotland we were discussing hobbies (other than cycling) that we could both do that wouldn't entail the huge drives that have become a necessary part of our walking and mountaineering trips and Donna decided that she'd like to have a go at Stand Up Paddle-boarding (or SUP for short); so after a bit of googling we booked a lesson for Saturday morning (20th April '13) at Calshot with Paul from Nomadic Kitesurf (more info on their website here).

The lesson was great, Paul was really helpful and after a rather unsteady (and wet!) start we were both paddling along the Calshot spit and round into the sheltered harbour, tackling smaller waves, before heading back along the beach to the 24-7 shop.  We both enjoyed the 2-3 hours and were itching to have another go....

Now the problem with doing something like that on a Saturday morning is that there are a fair few different shops in the area that sell SUP's and are on hand with advice and knowledge for the enthusiastic beginner and thanks to Google research of different makes and prices is only a click away - which is how we found ourselves in Andy Biggs Watersports in Gosport sizing up boards, paddles and trying not to look to baffled by the new technical terms!

Andy was fantastic; a wealth of knowledge and happy to talk about various different boards, styles and he had loads of useful advice about spots to go to etc.  Needless to say we came away from the shop with a few quid less in the bank but 2 shiny inflatable SUP's, paddles and pumps, in the boot of the car!

Board choices;
We both went for inflatable SUP's for ease of transport and storage as they pack down into a large rucksack weighing about 10kg;
I opted for a Red Paddle Co Explorer (here) - 12ft 6" and an adjustable 3 piece carbon/glass fiber paddle and Donna went for the same paddle (the idea being that they are portable and can pack into the board bag for "roadtrips") and a RRD Air SUP (here) - 10ft 2"

So, on to our first trip....

We'd decided on Swanwick Shore Road as the starting point for our first paddle for a number of reasons;
1 - the location on the Hamble river makes it (generally) more sheltered than the open coast around Calshot or Lepe (the wind for the shore stretches looked a little high when we checked before leaving)
2 - from Romsey it's only about 25 minutes in the car as opposed to nearer 40 down to Christchurch harbour
3 - there are a number of "trip" reports on forums that suggest it as a good location for SUP use

So we packed up the car and headed off down to Shore road, both a little apprehensive about where exactly to paddle, how the boards would handle and, more importantly, how we'd handle them!

Still managing to keep my feet dry!
Pumping up an inflatable SUP is fairly demanding despite the high volume and high pressure pumps that we had and getting 370 Ltrs of air into my board was a great warm-up but next time I need to remember to leave the wetsuit off until afterwards.

Once the boards we're pumped, leashes attached and paddles adjusted and wetsuits zipped up we waded into the shallow water near the car pack and hopped up, slightly unsteadily, onto our boards.

It didn't take long to get the hang of the feel of the board and even though they're inflatable the board is super stiff and responds just like a rigid board (in larger waves this may not be the case but we're not ready for that just yet!) and we both gained confidence quickly and paddled down stream towards Hamble Marina.

Donna approaching Hamble marina
The trip downriver was lovely, you get to see so much more from an SUP than you would from a kayak or canoe and the smooth water made for easy paddling - even the few crossings of the shipping channel were uneventful and stress-free.

We paddled as far as the small passenger ferry terminal at Warsash and decided to turn around and head back up-river towards the car and a cup of tea.
The wind had picked up slightly causing a fer ripples on the water and the tide was starting to turn so there was a bit more resistance to the return trip but nothing that was overly difficult or taxing - all in all its a great all-body work out without the need to set foot in the gym and you get the chance to see a different side of the wildlife and lanscape than you would from paths and roads.

We're both keen to get out again soon so I'm sure that the usual wind and weather sites will become regular viewing over the next 5 days in the office in readiness for the weekend and a new location and challenge on the boards!

Donna, heading back up-stream from Warsash

I didn't use a GPS or record the route on ViewRanger for this trip so the approximate route is below - total distance was just over 4 miles;


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