Showing posts with label Stand Up Paddling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stand Up Paddling. Show all posts

South African Adventurer Crossing the Atlantic on a SUP Board

This story was sent my way by a reader a couple of weeks back (Thanks Brian!), but it got lost in my inbox while I was at Outdoor Retailer. Still, it is such an amazing adventure that I just had to share.

Back on December 6, South African adventurer Chris Bertish set out on what promises to be one of the most challenging and wild waterborne expeditions of all time. That's when he hit the water in Agadar, Morocco on his attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean on a stand-up paddleboard, an undertaking that he has embarked upon to raise funds for charity.

Now, more than a month and a half into the voyage, Bertish has now paddled past the Canary Islands, and is making his way into the open ocean on his way to Antigua in the Caribbean. He is covering about 25 miles (40 km) each and every day, and at that pace he expects the journey to take roughly 120 days to complete, covering a total of 4500 miles (7500 km) in the process. Once he arrives in Antigua, weather permitting, Chris hopes to continue northward across the Caribbean Sea to end his adventure on the coast of Florida.

Of course, Bertish isn't paddling a typical stand-up paddleboard. He has a custom-built model that was designed for use on the open water and has a small, but comfortable cabin for him to take refuge in when he needs a rest. The vessel has four water-tight storage containers for keeping all of his gear, food, and other supplies protected from the elements. It also has a tank for storing 50 liters of water too, and is equipped with a para-anchor, which is a specially developed parachute that is deployed under the SUP board to hold it in place. The craft is about 20 feet (6 meters) in length, and reportedly weighs about 1335 pounds (600 kilos) too. Chris' SUP board also comes equipped with solar panels to help power his radios and satellite communications equipment, which allows him to stay in touch with those of us following along back home.

Bertish is paddling across the Atlantic to raise funds for the Signature of Hope Trust, Operation Smile, and The Lunchbox Fund, all of which are nonprofits that work to improve lives of the underprivileged in various ways. In this case, Chris is hoping to build schools, provide medical attention, and food for children in need. So far, he has raised nearly 5 million South African Rand, which is about $370,000.

We may be a month and a half into the SUP crossing, but there is still plenty of distance to be traveled before Chris is done. You can follow his progress at, where you'll find live tracking and daily updates.

Good luck Chris.

Video: Stand-Up Paddling the Length of the Mississippi River

A few weeks back I posted a story about British adventurer Kev Brady, who was just about to embark on a 1200 km (800 mile) journey by stand-up paddleboard along the length of the longest river in Sri Lanka and up its coastline, which is expected to take 4 months to complete. But, it turns out that this isn't the only long distance SUP expedition that Kev has undertaken. Back in 2013 and 2014, he also paddled the length of the Mississippi River too, covering some 3781 km (2350 miles) in the process. The video below chronicles that journey, taking us source-to-sea on one of the longest rivers in the world. Quite an adventure indeed.

Video: Paddling and Kiteboarding Iceland

We've seen some impressive videos from Iceland over the years, but this one still manages to deliver something new. It follows outdoor athlete Nuria Goma as she visits that beautiful destination, exploring its landscape not just in the traditional way, but also by kiteboarding and stand-up paddleboarding along the spectacular Icelandic coasts. As you can imagine, th country makes a stunning backdrop to her adventures.

This is what I am made of: ICELAND from Nuria Goma on Vimeo.

British Stand-Up Paddleboarder Embarking on Expedition Down Sri Lanka's Longest River

Stand-up paddleboarding continues to be an interesting sport that is growing in popularity and presents some unique opportunities in the world of outdoor adventure. While most of us are content to paddle out on our local lakes and rivers, some intrepid individuals are using SUP boards to explore remote corners of the world. Take for example British adventurer Kev Brady, who is Sri Lanka and preparing to paddle down that country's longest river.

Kev arrived in Colombo, Sri Lanka yesterday and is now preparing to embark on what promises to be quite an experience. He'll begin by hiking 2200 meters (7217 feet) up into Horton Plains National Park where he'll go in search of the source of the Mahaweli River, a remote waterway that runs for 335 km (208 miles) that runs through lush forests populated mostly be wild animals, like elephants, crocodiles, leopards, monkeys, and snakes. He'll then drop his trusty Red Paddle Co. Explorer SUP board into the water, and begin his long journey, which will also include 1287 km (800 miles) of Sri Lankan coastline as well.

The entire journey is expected to take roughly four months to complete, and since he's only taking a SUP board for transportation, Kev will need to travel light along the way. He's taking little more than a hammock and some basic supplies to help get him through the journey, with plans to restock food and other items as he passes through villages and towns in the later stages of the trip.

Much of the upper Mahaweli River remains unexplored, and at this point Brady isn't sure what he'll encounter early on. He is prepared to portage around waterfalls and possibly whitewater, although the wildlife in the area may dictate when and where he'll be able to proceed. But, he says he's excited about the exploration aspects of the trip, with just his paddleboard, meager supplies, and his own wits and skills to see him through.

Brady should be setting out on the actual expedition in the next few days, but at the moment he is in Colombo and taking care of less minute logistical challenges before he sets off. You can follow his progress on both Facebook and Twitter as he heads out into the unknown. This should be quite an adventure indeed.

Canadian Adventures: Whitewater Rafting on the Métabetchouan River in Quebec

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to travel back to Quebec, Canada for some summer time adventures. If you're a regular reader of The Adventure Blog, you may recall that I had visited the province in February of this year when I not only had an unbelievable encounter with wolves, I also went dogsledding and snowshoeing in the breathtaking Valley of the Phantoms. But during that visit it was extremely cold (-40ºF/C) in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region so I was anxious to return to see the area for some warm weather exploration too. I did not come away disappointed.

The theme of our trip was "Much Love Water" as many of the activities revolved around exploring the region by some kind of watercraft. In fact, on our first morning in Quebec we decided to get things started by stand-up paddleboarding on lovely lake near La Cooperative O' Soleil – a rural destination about an hours drive from our starting location in the town of Chicoutimi.

Most of the folks I was traveling with had paddleboarded before, so after a brief get acquainted session with our SUP gear, we set off down a placid river that fed out into a large lake. The morning was quickly warming up, but a nice breeze coming off the water kept us cool as we spent about an hour or so getting a morning workout. For those who haven't been on a SUP before, it is a good way to not only test your balance, but also work your core.

Unfortunately, our stand-up paddleboarding experience was an all too brief one, and we were forced to come off the water sooner than we would like. But, there was a good reason for that, as we had to grab a quick lunch before launching into our true adventure for the day – whitewater rafting on the Métabetchouan River.

After turning in our SUP boards we headed over to Microbrasserie du Lac Saint-Jean, a local microbrewery where we had a chance to enjoy a tasty lunch and a flight of beers that are brewed right at the establishment. Both the food and the frothy beverages were delicious, surprising us with their rich and complex flavors. If you're in the area, and you're looking for a great place to grab a bite to eat, this is a spot that comes highly recommended.

Once we had our fill, it was off to H20 Expeditions for our whitewater experience. The company has been leading travelers on whitewater excursions for years, and the level of professionalism and experience showed. Not only were the guides personable and knowledgeable, they did everything they could to get us ready for our river adventure in as short of time as possible. That included safety demonstrations, training us on the best way to paddle, and what to do should you be thrown from the raft at some point.

We had signed up for their three-hour rafting trip down the Métabetchouan, which was still running surprisingly fast even late in the summer. The river passes through a hydroelectric dam which controls its flow, and while we certainly weren't visiting during a major release, the water levels were still at good levels and the rapids were plentiful. After donning our wetsuits and pfd's, gathering our rafting paddles, and completing our orientation, we were all eager to get started.

The Métabetchouan rafting tour with H20 Expeditions covers about 7 km (4.3 miles) of distance, passing through some beautiful landscapes along the way. All around you are towering hills and lush forests that help convey the sense of paddling through a remote region, even though you aren't necessarily all that far from town. This particular stretch of the river includes 12 major rapids, and a couple of smaller ones just to keep you on your toes.

Unfortunately, the put-in for the river isn't particularly easy to reach. We hopped a shuttle over to the starting point, only to discover that we had to actually carry the raft about 500 meters down a hill just to reach the river itself. The path was easy to follow, and there were wooden stairs at the steeper sections, but lugging a bulky raft through the forest while wearing a neoprene suit in the middle of summer has a way of getting you warm very quickly. Thankfully, it didn't take us too long to cover the distance, and once you hit the water you cooled off quickly.

It didn't take long to realize why wetsuits are needed, even in August. The Métabetchouan runs cold and stepping into it was quite refreshing following the warm descent while carrying the raft. Once our boat was in the water our guide ran us through a series of drills on how to paddle forward and backwards that helped get everyone on board operating like a team. Once that was out of the way, we were free to begin our descent of the river, which started with a wild rapid right out of the gate.

I was one of the lucky members of the crew who was chosen to sit up at the front of the raft, which is not always an enviable place to be. Anyone who has been in that spot will tell you that the bulk of the big splashes hit that section of the boat, dousing the paddlers who are there. That would be my experience throughout the afternoon as big rapid after big rapid deposited hundreds of gallons of water into the raft. Fortunately, its self-bailing floor whisked it out again quite quickly as we all had a rollicking good time on our aquatic adventure.

The first rapid of the day was actually one of the biggest, and it set the tone for the rest of the trip. By the time we passed through, most of us were already soaked as the cold water washed away all memories of the sweaty hike through the woods that we made on the way to the put-in. And once we had run that bubbling cauldron of whitewater, were able to turn our rafts around, paddle back into the rushing river, and actually surf the rapids for a bit. This had the effect of dumping even more water into the boat, but by then no one cared any longer.

Over the course of the three-hour trip, H20 Expeditions had a few nice surprises planned for us. The first of those was the option to leap out of the raft and body surf the second rapid on the river, a challenge that I eagerly accepted.

Upon rolling off the side of the raft, I was quickly caught up by the rushing river. Quickly I moved into the safest position to proceed down river, which involved going down feet-first while in a seated position. My pfd helped keep me afloat has I – and a number of my companions – bobbed through the water. It was a thrilling way to run the rapids, and a good reminder of just how powerful the forces of nature can be. Had that particular rapid been much stronger, it would have been difficult to fight your way out of it.

At other points of the excursion we would also stop to allow brave members of the team to leap off a high cliff and plunge into the refreshing waters below, and to body surf some other rapids that we passed along the way. Each of those were exhilarating experiences and a lot of fun. Each time I was thankful I was wearing a wetsuit though, as the water remained chilly the entire time we were paddling.

Each of the 12 rapids has its own name – such as The Dungeon, The Sphinx's Eye, the Great Wall, and so on. This helped us to remember them as we passed through, as they all had their own unique characteristics and personalities. Some were fast and wild, inducing an adrenaline rush. Others caused you to have to work harder to avoid rocks which threatened to stall progress or up-end the boat altogether. Some were a bit tamer, while others provided massive waves that would splash the entire raft from stem to stern. They ranged from Class I to Class III in terms of intensity, but they were all a lot of fun and helped make the rafting trip a true highlight of my second visit to Quebec.

After running all 12 of those rapids our raft was deposited out into a wide stretch of river that was positively serene. We spent the last 20 minutes or so leisurely paddling towards our take-out point and enjoying the lovely scenery that surrounded us. It had been a truly epic day out on the water, and one that none of us would soon forget. We were all happy to get out of the raft when we were done, but the excitement of the day remained a topic of conversation for some time to come.

As a travel writer, I occasionally get access to some amazing places and experiences that not everyone else can do. But, I'm happy to say that this is definitely one experience that you can take part in as well. H20 Expeditions operates throughout the summer and heads out on the water several times a day. If you'd like to experience a run down the Métabetchouan River yourself, I would highly recommend joining them. The entire staff was highly professional and the experience was great from beginning to end. You can find out more on the company's website.

For me and my traveling companions this was just the first of several waterborne adventures to come. But, it was a great start to a fun trip that reminded me of just how wild and beautiful Quebec can be. I'll share more from those adventures in future posts that will hopefully give you some idea of what to expect when in this part of Canada, and possibly plan a few adventures for yourself there too.

Video: Paddleboarder Has a Close Encounter with a Whale

We've seen some close encounters with wildlife in some of the videos I've posted in the past, but this one just might be the most impressive of all. In this clip, paddleboarder Lukas Reilly is followed by an Orca whale, who is very curious as to what is floating on the surface of the water. So much so that it appears that the whale actually taps the back of the board that Lukas is standing on. Fortunately, this wasn't one of the larger Orcas out there, and it seems its curiosity was satiated very quickly. Still, quite an amazing experience for sure.

Frenchman to Attempt Atlantic Crossing on a SUP Board

A Frenchman by the name of Jarossay Nicolas has set quite a goal for himself. In January, he intends to launch a specially built stand-up paddle board from the African Coast on which he will attempt to become the first person to SUP across the Atlantic Ocean. He expect to spend 75 days at sea as he paddles towards the Americas, covering approximately 4000 km (2500 miles) of open water.

The key to his survival on the Atlantic Ocean is the 21-foot long, custom built SUP board. Large and ponderous looking, it has never the less been built to help him survive for two-and-a-half months at sea. It features a host of high tech gadgets to help with the crossing, including GPS navigation, emergency beacons, radios, and a water purification system that is capable of producing 3.5 liters of fresh water per hour. The board also includes a 7-foot long storage compartment that will be packed with freeze dried food for Nicolas' meals, and an emergency suit in case he experiences bad weather along the way. It is even large enough for the man himself to squeeze inside in dangerous situations.

It appears that the Frenchman will be paddling alone and without a safety boat on this voyage. He will be in daily contact via satellite phone with a friend back home, but will not have the luxury of a boat following along to help avert disaster. Should he run into problems, he could be days away from anyone who could assist him. Tropical storms are less common during the time of year that he'll be crossing the ocean, but they can happen, and this tiny craft would have a difficult time surviving such an onslaught.

You can find out more about the SUP crossing of the Atlantic at Nicolas' official website, and on Facebook. Big thanks goes to the Gear Junkie for sharing this story.

Video: Stand-Up Paddleboarding with Whales

Shot near Esperance, in western Australia, this beautiful video was captured using a drone flying above the crystal clear waters found there. It features a lone stand-up paddleboarder having the encounter of his life as two whales swim alongside him. It must have been quite an experience to be so close to those amazing creatures on such a tiny SUP board. Definitely a once in a lifetime encounter.

Video: Whitewater Stand-Up Paddleboarding

I hate to admit it, but I have yet to try stand-up paddleboarding. I know that it is one of the fastest growing outdoor sports around, and it looks like a lot of fun, but I simply haven't had the opportunity to give it a go yet. I hope to change that very soon. In the meantime, I have gained a new respect for some of the folks who do SUP, thanks to videos like this one. It shows pro paddleboarder Paul Clark as he makes a short whitewater run on a SUP board. While this isn't Class V rapids by any means, it still requires some great strength and agility to complete the descent over some tricky rapids while surrounded by rocks. I don't think I'l be doing this my first time out, but it is impressive none the less.

The State of Outdoor Participation in the U.S.

The Outdoor Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring and growing future generations of outdoor enthusiasts, has released its annual report examining the level of participation in outdoor activities witin the U.S. That report has both some encouraging and disappointing findings in terms of how engaged people are with the outdoors, and what the outlook is amongst young people today.

During their research the Outdoor Foundation discovered that nearly half of all Americans claim to have taken part in some outdoor activity in the past year. That number is 48.4% to be specific. While that sounds like a reasonably high  number on the surface, the fact that respondents only needed to take part in a single activity over that 12-month span indicates to me that most people aren't engaging with the outdoors in a meaningful way on a regular basis.

A deeper look at the numbers tells a similar tale. According to a press release from the Foundation, these numbers are down .8% from 2013, which doesn't sound like a lot in the grand scheme of things. But, this is also the lowest level of outdoor participation since the organization began tracking the data back in 2006. In other words, fewer people are getting outside and taking part in these activities.

The report says that there are some bright spots however, particularly in waterspouts. Stand-up paddleboarding continues to grow substantially, up 38% in 2014 over the previous year. Snow sports are also doing well with telemarking, snowshoeing, freestyle skiing and cross-country skiing all showing significant gains.

Sadly however, both running and cycling saw a drop in numbers. As the report says, these are often "gateway" activities that lead people to engage with the outdoors more fully, but both saw fewer participating. Well, that is, less people were doing them outside. Research indicates that more people were running on treadmills and stationary bikes inside however. Poor weather and shifting climate conditions was blamed for this drop.

The complete report isn't due out until later this summer, and it should have more details about outdoor participation as a whole. But obviously it is disappointing to hear that fewer people are heading outside. I'm not sure what can help reverse this trend, but hopefully something will come along that can do that soon. I can't imagine not going for a daily run outside, hiking some trails. paddling a river, or camping under the stars. Finding ways for others to fall in love with those experiences is one of the goals of this blog, and so I am a bit disheartened to say the least.

Major Carolina Rivers Expedition Set to Begin April 29

Explorer Julian Monroe Fisher's many travels have taken him to some of the most remote places on the planet where he has had the opportunity to observe indigenous cultures and map little-known landscapes. But with his next project he wants to show that you don't have to go to the ends of the Earth to be an explorer. In fact, you can find plenty of adventure and exploration right in your own backyard.

The Costa Presents Carolinas River - Education and Preservation Through Exploration project is scheduled to get underway later this month. It will consist of a series of ambitious expeditions that are meant to explore the waterways of the Carolinas while documenting the history and cultural heritage of the region. Over the next two years, Julian plans to explore 32 individual rivers in North and South Carolina, both overland and on the water. Through his travels, he hopes to also hopes to bring attention to the environmental threats that these rivers now face.

Over the course of his journey's, Julian will travel by kayak, canoe, and stand-up paddleboard, as well as on foot. When he isn't paddling one of the 32 rivers, he'll be hiking along North Carolina's Mountain to Sea Trail or South Carolina's Palmetto Trail. He'll be joined on these excursions by a documentary film crew from Blue Car Productions that will capture the settings, communities, and ecosystems that he encounters along the way.

One of the more crucial aspects of the project is the role education will play. Julian believes that through education, these threatened Carolina rivers can be saved. To that end, he is establishing ties with a number of schools to create a learning tool that can be used in classrooms. By engaging students in the Carolinas River project he hopes to get the next generation invested more fully in the environment, which in turn will help spread the word about the importance of protecting these waterways. Updates of the journey will be shared via social media as well, giving students an even deeper connection to what is happening.

The first stage of the Carolina Rivers project will launch on April 29 with a special media event at the Highland Brewing Company in Asheville, NC. By that point, Julian will have already started to paddle the French Broad River, considered the third oldest in the world, and will make a stopover to meet with press and the public.

This will be a major project to watch unfold over the next couple of years. Paddling 32 rivers over that period, while also hiking through the Carolinas backcountry, should be extremely interesting to follow.

You can learn much more at

Dave Cornthwaite Launches Project Origin - Smaller, Shorter Adventures for a Good Cause

Because he doesn't already have enough things to keep him busy, British adventurer Dave Cornthwaite has launched a new adventurous endeavor designed to not only help other would-be adventurers realize their dreams, but also to raise enough funds to plant one million trees as well. This new endeavor is called Project Origin, and it will focus on smaller, shorter adventures by stand-up paddleboard (SUP) with the expressed goal of making the world a better place through adventure.

As you probably already know, over the past few years Dave has been focused on his Expedition 1000 project, during which he is attempting to complete 25 individual journeys of at least 1000 miles (1600 km) or more, without the use of any form of motorized transportation. So far, those projects have taken him across Australia on a skateboard, down the Mississippi River on a paddleboard, and by Hobie Kayak from Oslo to Helsinki. Project Origin will take a similar approach to adventure, but on a smaller scale.

This new undertaking  is expected to be a 3-5 year project that will consist of 25 smaller journeys done by SUP. The first of those journeys has just wrapped up, with Dave leading a team of four other individuals on a circumnavigation of the island of Martinique in the Caribbean. That adventure took 12 days to complete, covering a total of 146 miles (235 km) in the process, and wrapping up just this past weekend.

This first leg of Project Origin begins another fund raising effort on the part of Cornthwaite. This time out, he's attempting to raise enough money to plant more than one million trees. His efforts will aid a variety of organizations across the globe, so that the tree plantings will take place in different locations and environments. To that end, Dave has launched a Just Giving campaign, with proceeds going to the Tree Aid organization.

Project Origin isn't just about conducting smaller adventures to raise funds for the trees however, as there is a sub-component called #Begin that will be of interest to a lot of people as well. #Begin is Dave's attempt to give back to the adventure community by helping 200 other people to get to the starting line of their very first adventure. He'll offer support and advice to those would-be adventurers, and in return they'll help raise funds for the cause as well.

You can learn a lot more about Dave, Expedition 1000, Project Origin, and #Begin on his website and Facebook page. And if you'd like to get a glimpse of what the first SUP journey of Project Origin was all about, check out the video below. This looks like it will be another fantastic endeavor from someone who has a long track record of conducting great adventures, and encouraging others to find their own.

Outside Explores The Goofiest Gear to Go Mainstream

Outside magazine has put together a fun little online story in which they asked four extreme athletes and adventurers what was the goofiest piece of gear they first scoffed at, but it eventually went mainstream. The answers are all pretty surprising, and are pieces of equipment that many of us probably either own, or have used at some point.

The panelists for this article include ultrarunner Mike Foote, pro snowboarder Hana Beaman, expedition kayaker Ben Marr, and polar explorer Eric Larsen. Each shares tales of how they came across some piece of gear that the completely under estimated, only to later find that that product became huge, or that they were even using it themselves. Take for example Larsen, who is quoted in the story as saying that he thought "the Buff was silly. I mean really silly." He is pictured here on one of his numerous expeditions to the cold places of our planet. Around his neck is a Buff.

The other choices for odd gear that these adventurers came back on include bear spray, which Foote thought was unnecessary when he moved to Missoula, Montana from Ohio. But after a few encounters with the ursine population near his home, he quickly changed his tune. For his part, Marr felt that nose plugs were unsightly and uncomfortable, but later discovered that they helped prevent sinus infections. Now, as he paddles places like the Congo River and the Salween in China, he knows that the plugs are helping him to stay healthy.

Perhaps the biggest underestimation of the entire article comes from Beaman however. She had the opportunity to use a GoPro camera before they were released to the general public, and didn't quite understand why anyone would want to wear one. Of course, we all know that the company is now huge, and just about everyone is carries the rugged little cameras with them everywhere. That includes Beaman herself, who says she never goes anywhere without a GoPro now.

Do you have a piece of gear that you thought was odd when you first saw it, but it eventually it caught on? For me, I'd have to say it was probably the stand-up paddleboard. While I wouldn't say that I necessarily thought it was all that odd, I just never would have predicted that the sport would blow-up in the way that it has either. The first time I went to Outdoor Retailer, there were a few SUP booths tucked away in an out of the way section of the show. A year later, the category was booming, and it had taken over a sizable section of the exhibit hall. That presence remains quite large now.

Post a comment about what gear items surprised you. I'd love to hear your stories.