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Paddleboarding Tested My Balance ...

... And my phone’s resilience

Balance. All I have to do is stand up. I put my left foot flat on the board, wobble for a second, then stabilize. My right foot is next. If I don’t do this right, I’m going straight in with the jellyfish. The creek is infested with the stinging creatures.
    Here goes nothing. My right foot sweeps under me and lands flat on the wobbling board. Standing, I regain my balance.
    I did it. I have conquered the paddleboard.
    Paddleboard is a new sport at Paddle or Pedal, which rents boats, bikes and boards at Rod ’n’ Reel in Chesapeake Beach and Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis. From two boards two years ago, six are now in constant use. When I make it back to the dock, a small group is waiting to go paddle boarding.
    Stand up paddleboard sales generated $14.5 million among core surf shops in the most recent year counted, 2010, according to the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association.
    I understand why paddleboarding is growing in popularity. It doesn’t take much physical ability, and you can lay out on the board to work on your tan.
    Standing up, I paddle down Harness Creek. My sister Maggie glides next to me, content with paddling Indian-style on the board. We float easily down the waterway, catching up on our gossip and taking in the scenery.
    Paddleboarding is tranquilizing: The calm of the water is a perfect coolant from the summer sun, and the scenery is picture-perfect.
    As an avid photographer, I want to capture this perfect day. So my iPhone is shoved in my life vest. I’ve shielding it in a plastic sandwich bag, as my sister suggested.
    I get some great shots. The sun glistening on the water, my feet dangling off my board, my sister paddling with her aviators on — perfect for Facebook and Instagram-ing on dry land.
    I’m balancing so well that I get big-headed.
    Where’s a jellyfish when I want to shoot one?
    Suddenly, I’m in the water.
    My first thought: Book it to my paddleboard before that sucker stings you. I’m up, easily, when Maggie yells, “Make sure your phone’s okay.”
    Out of my plastic bag, I pull the black screen of death.
    Only on dry land do I learn about the dry bags Paddle or Pedal provides for people to take belongings on the water. But I’m not worried. Cell phones can be fixed.
    After two failed trips for cell phone repair, a missed UPS delivery and a long, silent weekend, I get my replacement phone five of the longest days in my life later.
        I won’t take it with me on my next paddleboard experience, yoga paddleboarding. Two 90-minute evening classes are coming up, on September 9 and 16, at Paddle or Pedal, Chesapeake Beach.
    I’ll test my balance while I strengthen my core in the ancient poses. No doubt more relaxing then my usual gym routine with the hulk-size weight lifters and over-achieving marathoners.
Maybe I’ll see you on the board, or in the water.

Get more information at or call 410-271-7007 for the Quiet Waters location and 410-991-4268 for the Chesapeake Beach location.