Summer in the Sunshine Coast presents a great opportunity to try a new water activity. If you haven't tried river kayaking or stand-up paddling, then the best time to do so is now. The good news is that it doesn't have to be summer here to try them. We have an average annual temperature of 25 degrees Celsius, an average water temperature of 22 degrees and the air temperature hardly drops below 20 degrees, even in winter. The bad news is that whatever the season and temperature, it can be daunting to try something new. So take a friend or a few friends with you. These types of activities are more enjoyable done in a group.
I have always wanted to try stand-up or long board paddling. Add Noosa River to summer and you get a potent combination for soaking up some water fun. With that in mind, I headed to Boardwalk Boats in Noosa Heads. They're right next to the Sheraton Hotel, on the Sheraton Wharf, off Hastings Street. They hire out boat cruisers, kayaks and long boards. They also hold kayak tours and kayak lessons, where they guide participants through Noosa River canals and give them a tour of the unique Noosa biosphere and ecosystems. They guide paddlers to the river mouth for a swim in the clear, clean waters off Frying Pan Island.
Boats come complete with fuel, fishing gear, safety equipment, canopy, ladder, padded seats, key start, and electric trim or tilt. Boat license is not required to hire a boat. Kayak hires include dry bags and life jackets. Boards are the latest models constructed out of epoxy resins, which make them light and sturdy. They have a non-slip grip to stand on and the lightweight carbon paddles are adjustable. Their boardwalk shop sells chilled water, juices and other similar drinks as well as ice creams. For the fishing enthusiasts, they have rods and reels, hooks, sinkers, and a variety of bait.
I like boating and I love kayaking, but that day my heart belonged only to stand-up paddling. As I haven't tried it before, I was given a very quick lesson on where to stand, how to hold the paddle and how to best paddle. An obviously well-experienced stand-up paddler glided by to give me some very useful and helpful hints. So downriver I went and it was easier than I had thought. I meandered around the waterways and canals. I paddled by a few beaches I know and stopped on a few of them for a swim and a rest. I paddled by Gympie Terrace in Noosaville and turned around as I approached Tewantin. I explored some more canals on my way back to Noosa Waters.
Don't get me wrong, my first foray into stand-up paddling wasn't completely hitch-free. I found out that going upriver was not as easy. That's to be expected, right? You bet. There was the current to paddle against and passing boats to reckon with. And you know what happens when a boat sails by? It creates ripples. What about two or three boats passing by? Well, you get bigger ripples and then, even bigger ones. That means that I had to try real hard at times to balance, to remain standing and to not get thrown overboard. I also found out that it can be hard battle not to get turned around the way the current flows, especially when those big ripples hit the board. Because it's light, it naturally follows the current. And that only means one thing: the paddler has to paddle harder and more evenly to keep a straight line. But all that only adds to the fun. To stand and balance on the board for a good period of time while also maneuvering it only by using the paddles is good core exercise, if nothing else.
A greenhorn stand-up paddler no more, I look forward to many more paddling trips to be made. If you do decide to give it a go too then I might see you out there on the river one of these days. Give me a wave and I'll try to do the same, paddle and all.