Author Topic: First 3 times Jellyfish and Sting Rays  (Read 935 times)

Tom iSUP

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First 3 times Jellyfish and Sting Rays
« on: April 08, 2021, 08:51:10 PM »
I was all excited to try out my iSUP. My first time I put the board in the water, and then saw all the jelly fish. They were very clear and hard to see, but had I kept going I would have waded into a school of them. I decided to make my first iSUP adventure another day.

The 2nd time I only went on my knees. I was wobbly at first, until I relaxed some. I was surprised how tired I was after a mile. I think it is like starting skiing. You don't have your natural balance yet, so you just tense up everything and tire yourself out quickly. I tried standing up one time at the end, and promptly fell into the cold water.

My third time it was a little cool for falling in, so I went on my knees again. I was definitely doing better, and could do more strokes before having to switch sides. I arrived at my beach, and saw sting rays. I stood at the edge of the water. The sting rays had a surprising amount in interest in me. One kept hovering underneath my board. Another swam slowly towards me, but turned away when I hit the sandy bottom, with my paddle, when he was about a step away from me. Another kept circling my board and passing close to me. They ranged in size from about 20 to 30 cm across. I wanted to try standing up again, but didn't want to fall in near these curious sting rays!


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Re: First 3 times Jellyfish and Sting Rays
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2021, 05:37:15 AM »
Hi Tom,
Welcome to the Zone  :)

Paddling a paddle board for the first time can be a challenge.
You didn't mention the conditions or where you were paddling.... which make a big difference.

The best way to give yourself the best experience possible is to pick a protected spot, out of the wind, on a calm day.
No boat traffic or wave action.

Make sure to pump up your ISUP to the high end of recommended PSI.... a soft ISUP will fold like a tace and be extremely difficult to stand on.

My answer turned into a long first lesson, hopefully not to cumbersome, so you can get something from it  ;D

EVERY time you get on your board, you NEED to be wearing a GOOD leash, properly attached to the board and you!!!!!
Falling is part of paddling.... without a leash the board will quickly move away from you ... swimming with a paddle in your hand, it is quite difficult to retrieve your board!
People die because they don't wear a leash.... such a simple thing. And so important!

Place your board in waist deep water, parallel to the shore line
(do NOT hop on with the nose aiming out and tail near the beach, because when you hop on, your weight will sink the tail and drag your fins on the bottom, possibly damaging the board)
Put the paddle across the deck in front of the handle (the handle is the "balance point" of any board)
Grip the paddle with hands about shoulder width apart, as you place both hands on the deck
When you climb on the board, place a knee on each side of the handle, and paddle away from shore in that position.
Paddle on your knees for a while, this will sync your body to the feel and rhythm of the board on the water.

First task while still on your knees:
Learn to turn the board so you can navigate around boats, rocks or other obstacles, so:

The fin's job is to make the board go straight, so turning is easier by using the paddle as a brake, rather than paddling hard forward, on one side
Get some speed paddling on one side.
You will notice how the board resists turning quickly if the paddle is kept close to the board as you stroke.
Take the paddle on that same side, with body braced on knees and toes.... stick the paddle straight down into the water and brace to keep it straight down. It acts as a brake.
You will notice how the board will turn slowly to the "paddle side"

Then.... paddle backwards on that same side..... you will notice how quickly the board will turn away from the "paddle side".
That is the fin working.... it is easier to make a quick turn with a backward stroke when you are learning, because going forward, the fin will resist the turn.
Very important in a crowded harbor.

Ok... paddle to an open spot, in at least chest deep water.... with no wave action.
Place the paddle on the deck in front of you, with the paddle across the board.
Using your hands, push up, towards the standing position... keeping the paddle firmly across the deck as a brace.
Bring your feet to each side of the handle, about a shoulder width apart.
When you are settled, stand up smoothly and IMMEDIATELY place the paddle blade in the water, off to the side.
It becomes your 3rd leg, and helps greatly with balance.
As soon as you are  fully standing, take a gentle stroke.
A moving board is far more stable than a stationary one.... just like a bicycle.

Look forward, not down at your feet
It's amazing how much your body relaxes when you smile. Truth!!!

Do NOT fear falling in... it's part of the learning process.
Dress for it... and expect to fall.
I fell 100 times my first day because I was foolish enough to learn in the surf zone.... and I was on a huge 36" wide board!

Learning in shallow water is dangerous because you can easily get injured when you fall..... make sure the water is deep enough for a very awkward fall!
When you start to fall... let it go!
Fall AWAY from the board.... injuries happen when you try to land on the board, or grab it as you fall.
LET IT GO! Your leash will let you pull it back, after the fall.

As you fall.... hold the paddle in the hand AWAY from the board.
Paddles break easily when smacked into the board.
Speaking of paddles... get a good carbon paddle soon. The paddle is actually more important to your happiness, than the board.

Your feet got tired because you are tense and your feet a "gripping" the deck with all their might.
I have people paddle for about 15 minutes.... then I have them sit down on their board sideways and hang their legs down into the water.
We talk for a few minutes, answering any questions they have.
When they get back up in the standing position, they find that the tension has left their feet and the pain eases up.

This will quickly stop being a problem as your body and mind adapt to balancing on the board.
It takes a few weeks to get the "small twitch" muscles in your feet and lower legs to reawaken from their adult slumber.
Kids don't suffer this because they are always in constant motion..... but most adults have to emerge from our more sedentary lives.

VERY soon, you will adjust to paddling and get on with exploring your water world!
Enjoy the process and prepare to be amazed  :)

I made up some pictures from a lesson I gave.... this is very normal for how I introduced people to paddling.

My goal is always to pass on the love of paddling.... by showing the possibilities on the very first day.
I never teach people in a harbor, padding in circles.... I show them the potential for exploration and wonder.
The act of going somewhere, takes their mind off paddling... they start looking around and relax.

I plan these trips after careful study of local tide and wind.
I always carry communication with me (Iphone in a waterproof pouch)

A new paddler on their own, should stay closer to the launch site.
Wind and tide can create dangers to inexperienced paddlers... so check the local forecast before you go in the water!

Please keep us up with your progress!

Check out my Youtube channel... there are many flat-water videos, if you look down my page, where I have created almost 200 SUP videos


My YouTube channel:

Tom iSUP

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Re: First 3 times Jellyfish and Sting Rays
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2021, 01:23:04 AM »
I went out again the next day. The night before I read up on sting rays -- the stings are very painful. I looked carefully when I went out -- no sting rays. I got back and looked carefully -- no sting rays. I stood in the water about a step from shore and surveyed the water. Sure enough, here comes a sting ray from around 4 or 5 meters away, shooting arrow straight towards my feet like a low flying fighter jet! When he was about 2 meters away I shuffled my feet and he u-turned very quickly and shot away even faster.

SUPCreek, many thanks for the tips. Some I did and some I need to start doing.

Still water, no wind -- check
Tides and wind -- I'm in harbor with fairly narrow channels. I have been going on channels that parallel the beach and are across the wind; the houses block the breeze. The channels perpendicular to the shoreline do get much more wind (I know from using my inflatable kayak). I haven't been able to detect tidal flow, I'll have to start paying attention.
Deep enough to not hit the ground -- check
Standing up while moving -- whoops! The first try was motionless. I paid more attention and the board does seem more stable if I'm moving.

Turning: You are right, now that I'm going a little faster it is hard to turn by paddling harder! Paddling backwards saved me from a collision with a docked boat!

Leash -- check. I used to surf when I lived by the ocean and always used a lease for that.

I have been very impressed how straight the iSUP tracks. I even had stretches of 7+ paddles on one side and was still going pretty straight. My inflatable kayak is hopeless without the skeg, and it is hard to get the skeg on straight. The iSUP is much better.

Almost everything has been on my knees. I did get my heels down and started to stand with the board moving, but the shore came up. I wimped out on more trying as the sun was down, it is 60's air and 50's water temps. I'm looking forward to trying again soon. I fell many times my first day skiing, I'm ready to do that for paddle boarding... when it warms up a bit more...

It's getting better, but I'm definitely getting "tense tired!"

Good discovery: The board is more stable than it feels. I was very impressed to see someone just put one foot on the side, and stand right up! My old surfboard would have for sure flipped over.  I wasn't paying close attention, and noticed my left knee kept getting wet. My knees were shifted way over to the left, to the point the left rail of the iSUP was under water! Whoops! It was a good moment, though, it that it taught me the board is pretty stable and you don't need to micromanage balancing it.

Thanks for the pics. I love your YouTube channel. I'm hoping to get good in the still waters of the harbor, and then try SUP surfing this summer.


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Re: First 3 times Jellyfish and Sting Rays
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2021, 06:51:33 AM »
Tom said:
"It's getting better, but I'm definitely getting "tense tired!"

Remember the hint to Smile as you tense up.... smiling REALLY does relax the entire body!
And remember:
after the first 15 minutes, sit sideways on the board.... dangle your feet in the water.
Enjoy your surroundings and listen to nature for 10 minutes
This will ease the tension
When you start paddling again, you will be more relaxed for the rest of the trip

Every lesson I gave, had a "sit down" 15 minutes out... it really relaxed them for the rest of the tour.

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