Fort Lauderdale Turkey Trot and Paddle is a little less than two weeks away.
We invited Catherine Uden, mom, wife, kindergarten teacher and passionate paddle boarder to share her family’s love of standup paddle boarding (SUP). It is a great story and we hope it inspires you to give paddle boarding a try.
Getting the Family on Board
I first became interesting in standup paddle boarding (SUP) about three years ago, and was hooked after being on a board only a couple times. At first, my husband, Neil, did not understand my addiction. It wasn’t until I got into racing that my family realized how much stand up paddling meant to me and how happy it made me that they too, got involved.
Stand Up Paddling is the Perfect Family Activity
One the best things about paddle boarding is it’s a sport every member of the family can enjoy.
As parents, Neil and I are able to spend time with our two boys Bodhi (13) and Jack (5), teaching them to have an appreciation and respect for nature. Plus, it’s a fun way to keep everyone fit and healthy. My mom, who is in her upper 60’s, loves stand up paddling. This past summer, I brought 2 inflatable paddleboards to our family reunion in Jamaica, and taught my extended family of all ages how to paddle.
There are so Many Beautiful Places to Paddle Board
Florida has an abundance of rivers, lakes, canals, beaches, and mangrove trails to explore and standing up on the paddle board gives you an amazing view. We have seen manatees, dolphins, turtles, sharks, rays, sea stars, and many other creatures that we would not be able to see as well from land or from a kayak.
We have had dolphins and manatees swim right up to and under our boards, and the great thing is, these animals are not in captivity! From our boards, we sometimes go out in the ocean and snorkel. During mini- season, we take the board to catch lobsters.
This past summer, I took Bodhi and Jack on an unforgettable road trip across the country. We paddled in beautiful Lake Tahoe, reaching some areas that were only accessible from the water.
Keeping Our Ocean Clean and Animals Safe
Neil and I, together with our boys, the Surfrider Foundation, BOGA Paddleboards, and Precision Paddleboards, have helped organize and participate in paddle board cleanups. We put large buckets on our boards and clean up litter in the intracoastal waterways. Cleaning litter from the intracoastal waterways with our kids, teaches them to have respect for our planet. On one paddling trip, we helped to rescue a pelican with a large fishing hook stuck under his wing.
Because of family involvement in the cleanups, our 5 year old can comprehend and explain the harmful effects of litter. Both boys understand that cigarette butts and other litter can travel through storm drains to the ocean. Seeing the plastic bottles and plastic bags floating in the waterways, entangled in the mangroves, has made a positive impact on all of us. As a family, we each make an effort to reduce our own plastic use.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Do I need to be athletic to stand up paddle?
No. Stand up paddling can make you more athletic, but it’s a lot easier than you think. The main thing is to make sure you’re using equipment designed for your weight and height. If you’re looking to try stand up paddling, I recommend going to a shop that offers lessons from an experienced paddler. Precision Paddleboards in Ft. Lauderdale is fantastic, because they specialize only in stand up paddling.
I tried paddle boarding, but wasn’t very successful. Does that mean the sport isn’t right for me?
No. If you have not had success stand up paddling, it could be that conditions were not right for beginners, or the equipment you were using was not suitable for you. You might find a lesson gives you the confidence you need to feel successful. I would suggest, whether you’re renting or buying a board, you let the shop know about your experience, and ask them to match the board to ability level and weight.
Stand up paddling can be very safe with the proper safety equipment and if you follow some safety rules. Coast guard regulations require to have a PFD (personal floatation device, like a life jacket) on you or your board. I personally like paddling with an inflatable PFD in a waist pack, because it feels less bulky. Jack wears a traditional life jacket.
A leash is also a good idea, especially if you are new to the sport. You can bring your phone with you, just be sure it is in a waterproof case. Bring water with you, and make sure you have enough for the whole family.
Some people ask me if sharks bother me. I have seen different types of sharks while paddling, and none of them have ever tried to bump or bite my board.
Date: Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 27
Time: 6AM Event Registration | 7:30AM Run/Walk/Paddle
Location: DC Alexander Park, 501 Fort Lauderdale Blvd. – South of Las Olas on A1A
To Register: Click Here
Catherine Uden is a kindergarten teacher in Broward County, Florida. She met her husband, Neil, while backpacking Australia in 1998. The couple enjoy paddle boarding, camping, and traveling with their two sons, Bodhi and Jack. On weekends and school breaks, you can usually find Catherine on the water, either enjoying relaxing paddles with her family, or competing in SUP races.