The Block Island Times

SUPing in SB

By Daniel West | Mar 29, 2011
Photo by: Peter Honor That's me catching a little shore break on my way in from SUPing at Refugio.

SUPing — slang for stand-up paddle boarding — is the thing to do in California when there is no wind, small waves and cold weather (relatively; it was in the 60s). I learned that this week on a trip to visit my uncle and aunt in Santa Barbara.

I had been looking forward to heading out to the west coast for a number of reasons: the warm weather, a break from work, the chance to visit a part of the country I hadn’t seen since I was five; but, one of the main reasons was to practice kite boarding with my uncle — an avid kiter.

Unfortunately the wind was not cooperating. I arrived at his home in Santa Barbara Sunday after what the local paper called “the largest rain storm in years.” The big storm seemed to suck all the wind from the region, leaving the water smooth and glassy.

However, we were on a mission to get in the water one way or another. So, undeterred, we set out Monday morning to survey the Pacific. We drove through UCSB to check out “campus point,” a local surf spot and found gently breaking waist-high waves — perfect for SUPing.

We grabbed the boards, pulled on our wetsuits and paddled out from a public beach about a half-mile from the break. I had only paddle boarded on flat water until this trip and I have to admit I spent as much time floating next to the board as I did standing tall upon it. However, it was still plenty of fun and by the end of the day I caught a wave, just one, but I counted that as a successful first outing.

The second day I was on a wave catching mission. After my first soggy day I was feeling much more solid on the board. So, we drove north to a point break called Refugio, accessed through a state campsite.

It was a beautiful spot, with a palm tree-lined beach and a rocky point surrounded by kelp beds. I stayed out for several hours and caught at least a half dozen waves (after the first few I didn’t keep a strict count).

For most of the waves I paddled in on my knees and stood up after I had caught the wave (a newbie trick), but by the end I had caught one while standing, which was a far tougher proposition than it may seem. The entire outing was great, paddling through the kelp and watching dolphins in the distance — my uncle sometimes refers to it as “stand-up snorkeling.”

I didn’t get to do as much kite boarding as I was hoping to, but I’m not disappointed. I got out on the water, caught some waves and picked up yet another sport to keep me busy on the ocean — not a bad trip.

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