’Tis the season for stand-up paddleboarding (SUP). Last week, I bought thick (7 mm) surf booties. And my winter life has been forever changed.
I put them to use as soon as I got back from purchasing them at Main Beach Surf + Sport in Wainscott. (The trip east also warranted a stop at neighboring Stuart’s Seafood to pick up smoked crab dip for a post-workout, pre-dinner appetizer.) Back home, I slipped on my wetsuit for the first time since last spring. With my booties on, I felt like a penguin walking around my tile kitchen floor, as I grabbed a bottle of water before heading out on what I anticipated would be my longest paddle since August.
Though this past fall brought balmy temperatures, the water has been a little too chilly to SUP barefoot since the end of October. I often found myself gazing longingly at Shinnecock Bay before heading to work each morning, and the temptation to go in was almost strong enough for me to bear the thought of cold feet. The weather was certainly warm enough to comfortably SUP. Were surf booties really the only thing stopping me from heading out there?
I’ve never liked the cold, and I would have never thought to consider myself a cold-air adventurer, but I was very quickly warming up to the idea. First, I invested in a wetsuit, a Christmas present last year. Now, the booties. As soon as it becomes unbearable to have naked hands, there’s no doubt that I’ll also be purchasing some wetsuit gloves as well.
In the week since I’ve acquired the booties, I’ve been out on the water multiple times. With my feet safely secured in what can best be described as very comfortable, waterproof socks, my winter life has significantly improved. The balmy 50° air was at my back, the waves were just big enough to provide both a challenge and that familiar, welcoming sensation of being hit by salty sea spray. Given a choice between the gym and being outside, I’ll choose being outside every time, and I’m so thankful to the inventor of the wetsuit for making my dreams a reality.
My passion for SUP snuck up on me. It started as a way to meet people when I was living in Orlando, Florida during my first year out of college. Though the city is only an hour away from the Atlantic front, I missed the daily interaction with the ocean I had while growing up on the East End. SUP could be done on flat water, and Orlando is home to dozens of lakes.
When I moved back here, I purchased a board, figuring now that I lived so close to water, I’d SUP almost every day.
I was right. Stand up paddleboarding has become both a thrilling way to see the East End from the perspective of standing on water, as well as an intense form of cross training, something I plan to take advantage of as I prep for the Brooklyn Half Marathon this coming May.
Though it hasn’t started trending this season quite yet, I love scrolling through the Instagram tag #ColdWaterSurf. It’s always filled with mind-numbingly beautiful shots of intense surfers braving the cold, beautiful, icy bays to get in some time on the water. When I bought my booties, I thought about how cool it would be to be one of those people. But as I glided across Shinnecock Bay this weekend, a comfortable breeze at my back, I decided that I could substitute social media fame for more pleasant days on the water for just a little longer…