"The whole time we were out we did not see another person and it was like we had the whole waterway to ourselves."

Special thanks to Larry Volenec for contributing this blog and sharing his experience with us. 

Looking for a fun outdoor adventure in Volusia County on the water? Then look no further than taking a stand up paddleboard (SUP) beginners’ course and tour all bundled into one. Debra, my wife, and I have always enjoyed the outdoors, water, and adventures in remote areas off the beaten path.Little did we know how SUP in Volusia County near the back waters of Canaveral National Seashore and the lagoon estuary could incorporate all those characteristics of a fun adventure.

We scheduled a lesson and tour with East Coast Paddle and were met by Tim and Cheryl at the dock at JB's Fish Camp. They quickly welcomed us aboard their modified pontoon boat equipped with seating and a t-top full of SUPs ready to be deployed into the water. We set off northbound to the quiet Manatee Lagoon where we enjoyed our first wildlife viewing opportunity.

A few simple tips ease the learning process
Cheryl, our tour guide and on water instructor, was the first on her board taking pictures from the water while we learned the basics of SUP from the front deck of the boat. We each sat on the front open deck of the boat, then knelt on the board in the water, slowly paddled away, and made our first attempt at standing. The board was actually less tippy then I thought and the recessed finger hold area used to grip the board was a great visual cue of where to stand. With your knees slightly bent, paddling was easy. We learned two methods to turn, forward and backwards strokes, how to keep the paddle close to the board to keep going straight, and the proper arm position when paddling.

"We saw several pods of dolphins..."
Before we knew it, we were off across the waterway and paddling between and around mangrove islands. A pair of dolphins spotted us as they were following a school of fish and came right on by to see what we were doing. During our two-hour trip, we saw several pods of dolphins, herons, osprey, and anhingas. We practiced getting back down into a kneeling position and back up again to make sure the first time was not a fluke! A water bottle and life jacket were on the front deck of the SUP and the cool water was a nice break as we continued to explore the maze of islands. Cheryl was nearby all the time taking pictures so we did not have to worry about having a camera and getting it wet. The time went by in a snap and we found a sandy spot to beach the boards for Tim to pick us up with the boat. The whole time we were out we did not see another person and it was like we had the whole waterway to ourselves.

SUP makes you hungry!
After a morning on the water, we were hungry for some seafood when we were dropped back off at JB's Fish Camp. Tim recommended a few items from the menu and we had a great lunch outside overlooking the water while recounting the great adventure and the new skills we learned. Debra was a life guard and swimmer and does yoga for balance and flexibility, so I expected her to pick up the technique quickly. I was a little nervous about being the first to take an unplanned swim. I am proud to let you know that with the great instruction, neither of us got more than a toe wet and had a wonderful time.

We are already planning our next SUP trip on the backwaters for the Canaveral National Seashore.