Deep Thoughts on a Paddleboard

So obviously, a lot has happened since my last post. I’ve gotten a divorce, started a new job, and I’m getting ready to move into a new house in a few weeks. Hey, I’m used to having my head slammed, so it’s all good. Last I checked, they’re still selling Diet Coke and Cheez-It’s, and most importantly, the ocean’s still there.

So then, I guess Club Earth’s staying open a little later and serving 2 for 1’s. It’s NOT the end of the world, after all.

I’ve gone surfing a few times this winter, but mostly I’ve been going on paddles on my SUP in the lagoon here in Brevard County. Paddleboarding, to me, is the best way to zone out, or really think deeply about things. I loved prone paddleboard races that were 5, 10, even 12 miles since it gave me maximum alone time PLUS possibly a goody bag and a medal if I was focused enough, or I was the only chick in the race. Bonus.

Me on a fun winter wave early 2019. Photo: @cbsurfkaren (Instagram)

These days, I mostly paddle on my SUP, still getting myself way out too far and lost in the beauty of wherever I am. Much more scenic than a long shower to hash out my thoughts, ya know?

Me after a paddle on the Banana River (Lagoon)

Here are some of my deep thoughts that have popped up over the last few months:

Surf trips by yourself can be hella fun.

Right after my separation, I threw my funshape and water wings in my car and drove up to Folly Beach, South Carolina, and surfed at the Folly Beach Pier. Met lots of cool people, saw lots of neato things, and I chose the phresh music for the drive. Nothing better.

Surfing is a lovely sport since there is no perfection.

I’ve been told to stop surfing because, well, if you’re not “good,” then what’s the point? I’ve watched so many videos with so many unique styles, could anyone agree on exactly what ‘s the best and when you should hang it up? I mean, in 30 years, who knows what wacky ass things will be considered cool in surfing? Old surfer chicks? Maybe…..

It’s OK to want to be a surfer/paddleboarder/waterwoman.

Yes, this might sound bizarre to some, but the surfer image (perceived or real) doesn’t always sit well with non-surfers, and it can be hard to deal with. I’ve finally quit apologizing. I even bought a pair of Vans so I could get more aligned with my inner Spicoli. Namaste, brah.

Hi. I’m Crafty Surf. I like surfing, paddleboarding, and crafts. And that’s all good.

Repeat after me: You are AWESOME today

Turtle Tracks Macrame Bracelet

Loggerhead Turtle

Here in Central Florida, it’s early sea turtle nesting season, so turtle tracks going up the beach can be seen in the mornings around the full moon. Turtles will lay their eggs in the sand towards the dune and cover them in sand. Then, they slip back into the ocean during the night, using the moonlight as a guide.

We are lucky to still have a few turtles left around here because our local conservation agencies do a fantastic job marking nests, so people won’t trample on them hopefully. Loggerhead turtles seem to be the most common off the coast of Brevard county, but I have seen a nice-sized rarer Kemp’s Ridley when I was out paddleboarding a few summers ago.

Check out the Sea Turtle Conservancy for info about sea turtles, and things you can do to help them to keep nesting for a little while longer.

Chaos happens when you leave lights on beachside

Like you could turn off your freakin’ condo lights if you live on the beach so it won’t confuse hatchlings navigating back into the ocean. The Condo Boogeyman’s not coming to take your pills, Grandpa- turn the damn balcony light off.

Anywho, since hatchlings should make tracks that go straight into the ocean, I made a fun Macrame bracelet using some basic knotting techniques that reminds me of a turtle egg and nice straight tracks. Check out the picture tutorial below, and use this knotting guide I made as a reference:

Macrame Knots Guide by Crafty Surf

Linhasita (or C-Lon cord) a flat cut cowrie shell, and some olivewood beads

Make a lark’s head knot though one side of the shell using about 2 yards of each color, folded in half

Use a T-Pin on foam or cork to keep your holding cord straight

Do 3 double half hitches across the green cord, doing 1 double half hitch on each color

Put a T-pin in and rotate the cord to the other direction and do the same knotting pattern, going back and forth

By using T-pins, I could keep the rows tight and straight across

Braiding the remainder, adding an olivewood bead, and making a secure knot. Now do the same on the other side of the shell!

Bringing both ends together to make a sliding adjustable knot

Making the adjustable knot by making a few square knots over both bracelet ends

Clip and melt the ends. Done!

This is always the “bracelet selfie” angle Pura Vida does

Please remember that sea turtles are not pets, Disney characters, and are not there for your fun-filled family entertainment. Please respect what tiny bit of space they have remaining.

This ain’t Disney, and you ain’t Snow White

Atoll Boards Sticker Pack + Bracelet Giveaway

Giveaway has ended! Congrats, Scrappy Yogi!

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The dudes over at Atoll Stand Up Paddleboard Company sent me a pack of 15 stickers, so I figured I’d make it into a fun Monday giveaway for y’all who follow this crazy surfy goodness. I’m throwing in a Linhasita macrame Anchor bracelet I made as bonus surf cred. I’m really digging the buffalo on a surfboard logo. Isn’t it ironic? Don’tcha think?

15 ATOLL Board stickers, and a cool surfer bracelet duuuude


I’ve surfed on SUP’s a lot, but never an inflatable type like these Atoll’s. A friend of mine has one, but he travels around the world A LOT, so I could see where it could save on fees and hassle. You could even have your own bed with you when they cancel your flight. 

I see these used a lot for SUP yoga, and I think that’s smart for many reasons. There’s no way in hell I’m putting my ass over my head on top of an unanchored, free floating piece of hard fiberglass. Gimme the freakin’ NERF board.

Anywho, first person to answer in the comments WINS! I’ll announce the winner on this post, so check back! Thanks Atoll Boards, for da stickers!

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QUESTION: Where is Atoll Board Company located?

Answer in the comments below, first right answer wins! I’ll ship internationally, but not to prisons. Or clown colleges.

Don’t try this with an SUP, brah

Surf Training: The Secret 

My advice is for surfers only….don’t get me wrong, if you want to stay in shape in general, the gym can be great. But, I disagree that going to the gym improves or helps one to become a better surfer specifically.

There are many companies out there with the sole purpose of selling you a method to “train better” for surfing, as if there’s ANYTHING that can mimic such a unique sport. There are books/DVD/YouTubes/etc. with gym exercises, Indo board tricks, certain yoga poses to be done consecutively….the list goes on. Of course they’ll tell you they’ve got the magic bullet, or the Secret key. Well, I’ll tell you the real non-Secret Secret, and I won’t even pretend I’ve gotten close to the Seventh Special Über Chakra yet. You’re not going to like it. In fact, most surfers- especially the groms- hate it, but it’s the best thing to improve your surfing overall. And everyone already knows what it is.

Paddle.
Most of your time surfing isn’t making crazy airs, it’s paddling. Not glamorous, but it’s 90% of your surfing activity. You paddle to get out past the break, you paddle hard to get into waves, you paddle down to line up better with a peak, etc.

A lot of people miss out on this, and it’s too bad


I notice a lot of surfers say, “oh, it’s TOO flat/TOO choppy/TOO peaky,” etc. to go out in the water at all. Instead, they’ll opt for the gym. When the water and air gets warm like this in Florida, and we’ve got some time before the next tragic oil spill, I’d better be taking advantage of it. I’ll be trying to paddle some type of surf craft every opportunity that I get.

Even if a day is crappy for surfing, just going out to paddle around always helps my endurance and surfing fitness. Since we are blessed with warm water now, why on earth would I go to the gym? I should be on a board, paddling or surfing.

Even if you have a 5’10’ potato chip thruster, if you can’t paddle that toothpick board any significant distance on a flat day in Florida without stopping, how are you going to catch that big wave in Costa Rica on your gnar gnar surf vacay, young man? 

I had a surf instructor once who gave me great advice: 

You should always be paddling into your next position. Don’t stay still, or you’ll miss a wave. 

Good to remember for our shifty beach break here in Cocoa Beach. All that crazy paddle training paid off for the Hometown Hero, you know…

Kelly Slater riding a door. Because he can. He’s like the Chuck Norris of Surfing

 

Typically, the goal that I focus on from Spring until the end of Summer each year is to be able to comfortably paddle my most regularly used surfboard (9’0″ longboard) at a walking pace least 1/2 mile or more down the beach. Then, I need to be able to surf for about 1/2 hour or more, and then comfortably paddle back to where I started without being winded or worn out. If I’m able to do that regularly during my surf sessions by August, that will put me in a good position to try the better swells in the Fall. 

There was even a race in August each year at Balsa Bill’s in Satellite Beach where I could test my endurance out, but they’re not having it this year. Too bad. I’ll still do my own timing for a 1/2 mile anyway sometime in August. Yay me.

Still “prone” paddling, just a switch to old-style knee paddling, commonly done while racing

You don’t have to be an athlete to train- paddling helps endurance and strength, which makes wipeouts much less worrisome when the BIG swells come.

No special paddleboard is necessary to paddle train. Some of the best paddle practice I get is on my 6’10” funshape when there’s super choppy and peaky waves. I will paddle out and around the line up, and if I catch a wave, cool. If not, I’m getting in paddle practice time. I try to shoot for at least a 1/2 hour, but it does depend on the factors that day, at least for me. I’m not a drill Sargent on myself these days, since I’m not Paddleboard racing anymore and I’m not getting any younger.

If you don’t have the dough for a monster quiver to paddle on for different conditions, in addition to your regular surfboard try to add a LARGE bodyboard. I got one nearly 20 years ago at a local surf shop near Playalinda National Seashore when I was first trying surfing out. I’ve since gotten the much larger Beater board as of last year, but I’ll never give up my original! A great place to look for one is on Craigslist. People move inland, and clear out stuff like this all the time for cheap.

My Beater board and my Big Bodyboard

 

The reason I advocate for picking up a bodyboard is that they are cheaper than a surfboard (my original bodyboard was $50 new, and it was NICE, and lasted me almost 20 years and counting), and it’s less daunting to paddle around on in rough waves, which gives me even more opportunities to paddle and be in the water. If it’s a bigger, gnarlier day, I’m not keen on paddling out on a hard fiberglass surfboard. A giant foamy bodyboard might be more fun to take along- as long as the ocean conditions are within my abilities.

I know, I know. The gym is warm, dry, totally safe, and you get to grunt a lot. But honestly, when I used to compete in prone paddleboard races, it was the leaner, less muscular, conditioned “Mer-man” guys winning the races. They spent the majority of their training time in the water, in less than ideal conditions ALL THE TIME. You have to if you wanted to win a 12 mile paddleboard race! Not every competition’s going to have perfect conditions, especially here on the East Coast of Florida. And the premier Paddleboarders- men and women- were mostly lifeguards who had to learn how handle less than pristine conditions for rescue situations-training that lent perfectly to frequent paddleboarding race wins.

WHO’S been practicing their paddling???

Now, I’m not saying go out in hazardous gnar, but when surfers say:

“it’s flat” or 

“it’s kinda choppy and small, I’m hitting the gym,” 

that should be your cue to let loose and paddle like nobody’s watching. And they’re not. They’re at the gym grunting.

Sorry, but if you can only get out to paddle/surf on the weekend and you try to go to the gym with a set of exercises to make it up during the week, don’t expect to improve your surfing that way- in fact you might injure yourself at the gym when you could be injuring yourself paddling! Ever think of that?!? 

I rather do this than stub my toe at the gym

No exercise improves the muscles used in surfing except paddling and surfing. It’s not glamorous to paddle around on flat days, but it’s far more useful to do than reps of whatever at the gym. On days when it’s truly impossible to paddle or surf, I either rest (you need to if you get into a regular paddle schedule), or walk, so my legs get sufficient exercise.

So there you go. Be sure to consult your doctor, don’t eat anything you’re allergic to, and cover your head when you fall off your surfboard. I guess that’s enough disclaimers. 

Dude, I was rippin’ it so harsh in the 321