Paddleboarding Advanced Lessons

Post-graduate work

Carroll said that 99 percent of the time all you need is one lesson and you've got it. "So a lot of stuff I cover doesn't really pertain to today, but hopefully they'll take it with them when they leave."

During his class he issues warnings and also keeps a good lookout for the hazards he describes, such as boats, docks, currents and winds. "I don't want somebody to rent a paddleboard and the current's coming in. They get out there and can't possibly paddle back here against the current. So that's what I try to stress. I explain where we're going and why we're going, and it kind of seems like overkill. But they should be able to put it all together and go get a board."

The type of board they buy will depend on what they want to do with it. He grinned and gestured toward the nearby causeway bridge.

"I caught a five-pound flounder underneath that bridge, going under it quiet. They don't hear you coming, and you can get into places that boats can't get to." He said Hook, Line and Paddle sells paddleboards all tricked out for fishing, "a few thousand dollar rig with rod holders and coolers and a little chair."

You'll also want a pretty big board if you want to do what he does—namely, putting on the dog. "I have a 360-pound Great Dane and I put him on my board. He doesn't like the water so he's perfect. He just clings onto the board."

He said typically people do one lesson, they're hooked, and they swamp him with questions about where can they buy a board and how quickly can they get it. WB Surf Camp refers anyone looking for a board to Surf City Surf Shop at 530 Causeway Drive, and the shop refers anyone looking for lessons to WB Surf Camp.

"They have board rentals. They have boards that are specific for fishing, wave riding or racing, so you can try what you want and after a few rentals make a decision on what you want to buy."

The boards he uses for his paddleboarding lessons are extremely easy to use. "They're 34 inches wide, so people get a false sense of security about how easy these are."

The growing popularity of the sport is fueling the constant reinvention of the traditional surfboard, with new innovations arriving in shops on an ongoing basis. "This time three years ago you could go out in your boat all day and not see one paddleboarder. Now sometimes it will be 30 of us doing it, and this area is perfect for it because of all the back water, how calm it is and how protected. We often have dolphins all around us."

He gives lessons as often as he can, usually four to six days a week, depending on enrollment. "During the week we'll have one or two people and on the weekends we'll have three to four. So it's catching on."

Now boarding at WB Surf Camp

"It's a surprisingly large company for a seasonal program," Carroll said, "and we just got into the SUP stuff this year. Other companies have popped up in town and a lot of them are smaller. We're kind of the big company in town, and I've been with them six years."

The company got its start ten years ago and is now up to 50 employees that do it all: answer the phones, handle the enrollments, and run various different shows. Carolina Surf School offers traditional surf camps for kids, teens, families and women, on weekends and for charitable organizations. Or you can join a surf travel adventure, to the British Virgin Islands, Costa Rico, the Bahamas or Hawaii. It also offers private surfing lessons on Topsail Island, Surf City, Figure Eight, Wrightstville, Masonboro, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Oak Island.

"We have a day camp for 15 to 20 kids, Monday through Friday, 8 to 10 a.m. We have overnight camp, and kids from all around the world, Italy and France, stay at UNCW. Then the guppy school which is for five-year-olds and the sea turtle camps."

Members of the staff are unfailingly helpful, and relentlessly thrilled to be connected to surfing and paddling. "The only part that ever feels like work is 100-degree days and cleaning up at the end of the day."

The office is located at 530 Causeway Drive, Suite B-1, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480, and the phone number is (910) 256-SURF (7873).

Other games in town

Wrightsville SUP is strictly devoted to paddleboarding and offers lessons and tours targeted to individual ability levels. The Salt Marsh Paddle Exploration is rated easy, a two-hour introduction to paddling that promises visits to areas accessible only by boat, filled with a wide variety of native bird and fish species.

The Morning Glory Paddle Exploration is rated easy to moderate, and launches at 6 a.m. in time for the first rays of the morning sunrise to peek over the Atlantic Ocean horizon. These are two- and three-hour paddles timed to coincide with the early morning shorebird rush hour.

The SUP Morning Surf Excursion is rated advanced, again two- and three-hour tours, but with the added attraction of actually catching an ocean wave or two, not an activity recommended for beginners.

Private and semi-private lessons and tours, two-hour minimum, are offered in one-on-one private lessons, two-on-one semi-private lessons, three- and four-member group lessons, and five-and-up group lessons. Contact them at (910) 547-8389. The office is at 11 West Fayetteville Street on Wrightsville Beach.

Hook, Line and Paddle has a catchy acronym, HLP, which might be something you'd text to the Coast Guard in any given emergency. This shop is all over the place in terms of its huge selection of kayaks, canoes and paddleboards, and they'll custom outfit anything you buy from them. They also book lessons and tours with their team of instructors that launch from the Blockade Runner Resort in Wrightsville Beach. The office is at 435 Eastwood Road in Wilmington, phone (910) 792-6945.

Jeremy's Surf School is down on Carolina Beach, affiliated with Island Kite & Surf. Jeremy Robinson won some surfing awards before beginning this school in 2006 along with his wife Samantha, another surf instructor and another UNCW alumnus. They offer lessons, parties and camps, whatever you want to do. Contact them at (910) 458-7005 or find them at 209 South Lake Park Boulevard in Carolina Beach.

Coastal Urge is a group of die-hard paddleboarders who have made a big splash on Bald Head Island and they also have a shop in Mayfaire Shopping Center near Wrightstville Beach. On Bald Head they rent paddleboards and offer guided and self-guided tours on the creek, paddleboard lessons, and daily and weekly rentals delivered to your door. They also rent bicycles and give kiteboard lessons. Bald Head Island allows no vehicles of any sort, so some of these options might be useful just to get around. Coastal Urge also holds an annual Go Fish Paddle Fishing Tournament on Bald Head in June.

On Wrightsville Beach, they hold SUP clinics on the sound side of the Blockade Runner, the occasional all-women's clinic, and a two-day comprehensive workout aboard a board completed with catered lunch. Find their Wilmington shop at 1319 Military Cutoff Road, call (800) 383-4443.

Wrightsville Kayak Company, as the name implies, is far more invested in kayaks than in paddleboards, but it stocks an abundant supply of both at its Wrightsville Beach location. It rents boards and boats for two hours, half days, full days and full weeks, and delivers them to your door, along with any gear and/or maps you might like. Find it at 101-199 Causeway Drive in Wrightsville Beach, call (910) 599-0076.

Indo Jax runs surf schools on Wrightstville Beach, Oak Island and Topsail Island. It also offers evening surf classes Tuesday and Thursday, 5 to 7 p.m., and weekend surf clinics during September and October.

On Oak Island, Indo Jax runs a three-day camp in conjunction with Oak Island Parks and Recreation Department, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 3:30 to 6 p.m. Kiteboarding instruction is also available. Call (910) 274-3565.

An endless supply of shops in the Wilmington area can sell you a surfboard, and some of these also go in for skateboards. In no particular order, you could easily find Hot Wax Surf Shop, Momentum, 17th Street Surf Shop, Aussie Island Surf Shop, Beach Creations, Bert's Surf Shop, Wrightsville Glassing, Sidearm Surf & Skate, ESA, Blue Ridge Surfboards, the Green Room and Xylem—to name just a few. You also might find an inexpensive used board on eBay or craigslist.

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Terms: Paddleboarding Advanced Lessons

Paddleboarding Advanced Lessons

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