I logged quite a few hours paddle boarding while in Nicaragua this past March. My husband wanted to do some open water swims, so me and my paddle board would tag along, buzzing around him while he swam. Mid paddle one day it hit me just how much I love this equal parts relaxing and exciting activity. Self propelling across the water in a rhythmic cadence brings you wonderfully closer to the natural world while also reminding you of your insignificant role in it. The energy generated by the force of nature called the ocean is palpable when perched on a 10 foot 6 inch board. It is certainly the closest I will ever get to walking on water.
As I considered my reignited love for this activity I got to thinking, how can I incorporate MORE paddle boarding into my life? Before I got back to shore I knew what I was going to do: The Montauk to Block Island Paddle Challenge. The “Block Challenge” as it is called by Paddlers for Humanity, the creators of the event, has always impressed me from afar. 18 miles across the open ocean by paddle board? Is that even possible? I knew I wanted to try. This was my event!
The timing was ideal. I am turning 50 at the end of the month and wanted to do something that: 1 – provided a unique challenge, and 2 – gave back to humanity. Check and check. Every dollar that is raised by Paddlers for Humanity flows back to those in need in the East End Community. The list of where the money goes warmed my heart and immediately cemented my decision.
A quick text to my friend Gail got me a paddle buddy to join on this adventure. Don’t you love those friends you can just send a text to out of the blue with zero context proposing a crazy idea and have them reply in the affirmative within 30 seconds!!??? I do! Thank you Gail for being that friend.
I have loved so much about this experience already. The thoughtful notes from friends and family cheering me on that rolled in with their financial support for the foundation has been very gratifying. Friends I have know for 40 years and/or met just this past year have been so supportive and generous.
The paddle board training has been bliss. For me, paddle boarding is a luxury that I have to grab time for in the midst of all the other things vying for a piece of my time pie. But as I am training for this fundraiser, I got a free pass to go for long, luxurious paddle board excursions in beautiful, serene places free of the throngs of Hamptons visitors. We’ve paddled by bird sanctuaries, down secret never explored rivers, around the Lake that sits in front of our house, and on stretches of ocean I never would have considered tackling on my own. Such a fun adventure it has been to train for this event.
What I’ve loved most is the camaraderie. Even though I only know maybe 5 of the 72 people paddling, it really feels like WE are in this together. It is not a race. I don’t have to think about my time or who’s is passing me. It is a group undertaking and I am so happy to be part of this group that is so committed to standing up for this enormous challenge all while raising money for their fellow humans.
On Facebook there have been announcements from my fellow paddlers shouting out that they will be doing this with me and naming others in the group. It am very proud to be listed with these brave and perhaps a teeny bit crazy (myself included) people. I am guessing 6 hours on a paddle board won’t be all kittens and cupcakes. There may possibly be moments of regret and self doubt. Hopefully Gail will still be my friend at the end. Based on the experience thus far I have a feeling this group, with it’s collective can do energy, will get us across the 18 miles. I am just honored to be a part of it.
The paddle is this Sunday. People have been asking if I am ready. The truth is I really don’t know – I guess we will find out. Grab your GROUP and PADDLE!!