~ by Corinne Muffly, Educator ~
A series of articles dedicated to helping parents find places and activities on Nantucket to enjoy with their children.
Being on an island has many advantages. There are numerous water related activities to take part in. Rather impulsively, my husband and I invested in our own stand up paddle boards. Growing up surrounded by water, I was never a surfer or water-going adventurer. I like to sit on the beach and go for a dip here and there. That changed after I got married— thanks honey!
These paddle boards were truly worth the investment. We have discovered so many beautiful parts of this island while paddling along the surface of the ocean and through the calming harbor. We’ll throw the boards in the car and just drive to some new hidden spot and go on a paddling endeavor. Having a little baby has changed that for us a bit. We’re cautiously discovering new ways to use our boards in order for everyone to enjoy them.
One of my absolute favorite places to paddle in the Nantucket Harbor is through the Salt Marsh Creeks. Conveniently, there is a kayak and SUP rental right near there, on Washington Street Extension, called Sea Nantucket. They are open everyday. In fact, last summer, while family was here visiting, we rented kayaks and paddled to Coatue right through the harbor. Coatue is a good distance so we were sure to bring snacks, but it was so peaceful and private once we got there. Worth the effort!
I digress; the Salt Marsh Creeks are perfect for beginners. It is a winding estuary with warm shallow waters, and the water is clear enough that you can admire the wildlife below and above while paddling along. You can pull up to the petite beach if you need to rest or keep going along the exterior shores along the harbor. If you do choose to paddle through the creeks, you need to check the tide chart. It’s best to paddle three hours before high tide and up until an hour after; otherwise you won’t have any luck and be stuck in the muck.
There are countless places to paddle board throughout our little sandbar. Polpis Harbor is another spectacular place to paddle. There are a few creeks tucked throughout that harbor as well. Monomoy also connects to the Nantucket Harbor and is another place you can begin your paddling excursion. While in the harbors, please be conscious of the boats and their wakes. Paddle boards can also be used for surfing, so you can take your board to any and every beach, whether it’s along the calm North Shore or the rougher South Shore beaches. This decision would be based on experience and interest. I enjoy calmer tranquil paddling sessions rather than attempting to pretend I actually know how to surf.
Like I mentioned before, water sports are not my thing. When we first decided to try stand up paddle boarding, I was nervous that I would not be able to get the hang of it. It is an easy challenge once you understand what to do.
Here are a few pointers from a non-professional. Getting up is the hardest part. Use your arms and core to go from kneeling to standing and scoot your feet to the middle of the board and keep them a shoulder’s width apart with your knees slightly bent to stabilize yourself. Hold the paddle with one hand on top and the other where it’s comfortable, use the flat part of the paddle and start at the top of the board and pull the paddle along side the board. You can also paddle seated or on your knees. I may be making it seem more complicated than it is, but just relax and play around with it until you get the hang of it. The purpose of this excursion is to have fun and enjoy yourself. Go with the flow, or the current, whichever is stronger.