How It All Began

I was temporarily laid off in April 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. My partner and I spent our time on the never-ending list of house projects at our home in Hamilton. 

In June my parents were able to go back to their cottage on Saugeen First Nations #29 located on Lake Huron in Sauble Beach.

I’ve spent a lot of time there (I used to live and work there from the spring to the fall) and was excited to return during the summer of my early “retirement” to spend time with my parents!

Laundry list of house projects!

Retirement living with my parents at the beach

I have paddle boarded for years. I’d paddle on neighbours’ and friends’ boards in Canada or when travelling.  I’m not 100% sure when I first tried SUP but It would have been after I learned to surf which was in San Diego in 2008. 

Catching first waves in California

The first time it was documented was here in Fiji in 2013 which could have also been my first time on a SUP board.

Crystal clear blue waters and paddling over coral reefs was mind-blowing!


Fiji Life

I had always wanted a board; especially being lucky enough to not only live by the Great Lakes but have a family cottage on one! 

I did my research as I always do and landed on an inflatable one for a few reasons. The convenience of it to travel with me in my 4 door sedan and not wanting the hassle and cost of roof racks. I had used inflatable boards before and I have to admit just the thought kinda turned me off but after lots of research, it was the right choice for me and is actually the most durable option. 

I hummed and hawed about pulling the trigger on the larger purchase. Money was already tight with being laid off and owning a house but I had more time available to me since I could remember. Likely when I was 14 years old before I hit the working world. 

I figured I would move forward and worst case I could sell it.

Now that I knew I was moving forward I wanted the Red Paddle Co Sport 11’3, 2020 model. If you recall, any exercise equipment or recreational items were difficult to find since the demand was higher than ever and manufacturing wasn’t operating at the same level due to the pandemic.

I found a few places selling the 2019 model but that year Red boards only had a 2 year warranty vs 5 years and didn’t have a front handle which the 2020 model did.

Maybe I’m picky but why would I pay the same for something with less? Plus if I’m spending the money it’s worth getting what you fully want.

I also figured that if I could find what I was looking for it was meant to be! 

I called a lot of places and hunted online too. I also contacted Red Paddle Co for retailers that might have it in Canada. Hot tip – not all of their retailers are listed on their site.

Literally, the last place I called had my board!

I spoke with a woman named Eileen, who owns the shop, Sun n Surf in Naramata, BC. Which isn’t even close to where I live; roughly 4,000km away.

Out of everyone I had chatted with she was the nicest and best person to deal with. She knew her shit! I spoke with a lot of people where I knew more about the product than they did. Maybe bad service or maybe I just research the shit out of it 😉

Side note, Naramata, BC looks stunning! It’s just north of Penticton and south of Kelowna on Lake Okanagan. I would love to visit one day!

Eileen sorted me out by texting me photos and options of leashes and paddles; recommending the best ones suited to me and my future board. 

She shipped my board, paddle and leash the same day!

First time putting my SUP set up all together for a paddle!

As you can see I landed on a bright pink leash from Vamo Life and a paddle from a Canadian company, Blackfish.

My board and the adventures it continues to bring opens up new places for me to explore that I didn’t think were possible and it helps me to stop & enjoy everyday moments. 

My board was a big purchase for me (laid off or not).

It is my “FUCK IT. Life is too short, I’m going to enjoy it now” gift to myself. 

I know I am lucky to have the ability to do this but I am also proud of myself for the hard work to get there. 

Holy shit I’m glad I bought that board!  I had the best summer. Not just on my new board but more time spent with my parents in Sauble, amazing adventures and an entirely new hobby with an awesome community of people!
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  • Tony F

    What a great journey. I’m glad you made the purchase and I’m excited to see all the exciting adventures that continue to come out of it. 🙂

  • Amber

    Congrats on this amazing blog girl!
    So proud to be apart of the paddle community! One day, my friend, we will meet and have a great paddle! I look forward to future adventures

  • Christine McLaughlin

    This is so cool MB!! looks like you’ve been having a fantastic time with your board. I’ve actually never tried SUP but keep meaning to. Can you describe how it compares to kayaking?

    • Marybeth

      Hey! Wonderful to hear from you! Thank you for checking out my blog! I wish I could take you out; especially in your area!

      That’s a great question! I might actually do a blog on that; thanks for the idea!
      In a nutshell, SUP is more of a full-body workout since you’re standing. Both are great for your core but since you’re standing on the board it has the added element of balance. Overall I’d say kayaking is faster but that will depend on the type of board and boat so I guess I should say this is true from a recreational leisure standpoint. There is more focus on your stroke since it’s not a double blade, the wind is a bigger factor as you’re less aerodynamic than in a kayak and waves can be way more challenging since you have the added balance of being higher above the water and on your feet.
      With the higher viewpoint, you can see more clearly into the water; this was pretty mind-blowing in Fiji over the coral reefs.
      An all-around recreational board is also more versatile for various activities than a kayak. I use mine mostly for touring for adventures but have also used it for surfing, yoga and relaxing! If you have a big enough board you can easily take pets or kids on it too!
      Let me know if you try it and what your thoughts are!
      It would be great to catch up one of these days too! I’ll shoot you an email 🙂

  • Jacob

    Sauble Beach, huh? How about SUP Flowerpot Island, you’re almost there? 😉
    Enjoy your journey. Great writing skills.

    • Marybeth

      Thanks so much, Jacob! It’s on my list to write about Tobermory. Maybe this is my push to do it for this weekend’s blog post? If not, soon! At this point, I have not paddled on my SUP board to Flowerpot Island. Can’t wait to be back on the Bruce this summer!

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