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Posted In: Features

The joys of stand up paddleboarding

Andy Thompson

@richmondoutside
January 7, 2012 1:46pm

Read on, and you’ll soon find out that RichmondOutside.com’s newest feature contributors are free spirits. Bryan and Camille Smith own Black Dog Paddle, offering stand up paddleboarding (SUP) lessons, tours, exercise classes and much more. Black Dog Paddle is the only business of its kind in Central Virginia. They’ll be writing once a month on all things stand up paddleboarding — how to get started,where to go, tricks of the trade, etc. With the winter being the slow season for their chosen profession, Bryan and Camille decided to start us off with a fun intro to the joys of SUPing. With apologies to Dr. Seuss, of course…

Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes You can steer yourself
any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You are off to great places, but just where should you go? To Daytona Beach, to Maui or Gulf of Mexico. Why not stay here, stay local I mean, why not the James River and see seldom seen.

You can take Buttermilk and cruise it by bike, but you’ll hardly have time to see all the sites. You can run down the street and avoid all the cars, texting while driving, after leaving the bars. You can walk in Byrd Park, take your dog for a stroll, climb at Manchester wall just avoid that loose hold.

Another prospective which might blow you away, is to take a short break, paddle the river this day.

You can paddle the James from Robious Park, if the winds are too strong just play it smart. Paddle 2 miles toward the 288 bridge, that’s going west towards the mountains a smidge. Rocketts is fine, avoid boat traffic galore, just remember the return trip’s surely a chore.

If you seek warmer waters and a lagoon for you two, Dutch Gap is the coolest thing you will do! Not the public boat launch you’re thinking about, this one’s a secret, just ask a trout.

If it is the rapids you crave, Hollywood surely answers, from flips, and spins, and unruly rock campers, just keep in mind this is class III-IV for you rafters, a swim hear could mean disasters.

Well, what is the best way to see all these sights, you can choose from a number of fantastic device. Choose me, choose me you hear from all of your gear, most often it’s that most unused which brings a tear. Deep in the shed or garage it may be, yearning to come out and see what we see!

Today is too cold, I don’t have the right wear, the water is 3 degrees above freezing from what I do hear. Get some good gloves, neoprene would be nice, a dry suit is great, a wetsuit suffice. And hit the flat water at Huguenot Woods, paddle up stream and avoid all your minds’ shoulds. Let your brain go blank and see what I see, Eagles and Herons, and catfish there be.

Grab your touring for flat water or Standup we choose, go shoot the rapids just don’t abuse. Paddle that SUP in either direction, towards 288 or east towards the Hampton, paddle it wise and paddle it strong, take a good lesson so you don’t do it wrong.

The view is superb; you can see shore to shore, your heart’s true yearning so you can endure.

You can paddle by kayak, you can paddle by canoe; the James is there for me and you.

We prefer Standup, because that’s just what we do!


About Andy Thompson

I was the Outdoors Columnist at the Times-Dispatch from 2007 to 2013, writing twice a week about mountain biking, fishing, hunting, paddling and much more. I live a 1/4 mile from the James River, close enough to see bald eagles soaring over my house on their way to find a meal. Pretty cool, eh?


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