This year I learned that it’s essential to use a Stand Up Paddle Board Leash when paddling in the ocean and common sense to use one else I paddle too! A little back story, every year my family makes a pilgrimage to Yosemite for some much-needed R&R. This year there was snow on the ground and temperatures around 30 degrees which is not ideal or even sane for tent campers. We willed the weather to change and prayed for warmth but as the 24 hour departure time creeped closer we mounted the white flag to signify our surrender. My husband managed to book a last-minute spot at Dana Point campgrounds instead and so we hastily unpacked winter hiking gear and replaced it with beachwear, a kayak and our stand up paddle boards.
For the first couple days Dan and I paddled around the harbor and out to the tip of the jetty but there wasn’t much interest in paddling into the big wide ocean until the last day. On our last day we packed up camp and headed to the beach for one last paddle. Dan, my friend Lynn and I paddled out to the end of the jetty and were greeted by a seemingly endless count of sea lions and pelicans sunning themselves on the rocks. Feeling inspired we paddled a little farther to get a better view and then saw that there was a pack of sea lions sunning themselves in a heap on a nearby buoy. We paddled on, careful to keep a non-threatening distance less we be capsized by annoyed sea lions weighing 300 lbs or more. It was about this time that I started getting cocky in my ability to tackle stand up paddling in the ocean. I felt invincible balanced upon my board mere feet from giant sea creatures and surrounded by boats transitioning from harbor to ocean and back, and I let my ego exceed my abilities. We began paddling back to the harbor at the same time a speed boat was slowing for his entrance into the wake-free area, I anticipated the wake from his sudden slowing and braced myself from the front of the board but I failed to account for his sudden left turn and so I got the wake straight on and from the rear. I shot off that board like a frozen turkey down a grocery store aisle. My board went wide and I went down like an anvil. The water was colder than anything I could have imagined; it knocked the wind out of me. I fell backward into the water and was underwater just long enough to see my prescription sunglasses float off my face and my visor float above me. I surfaced with my hat but not my glasses. My frenzied search for my glasses appeared to be outright panic to my paddle mates. It hadn’t even occurred to me that I had no idea where my board was and that I was chattering and gasping because of the cold.
Dan and Lynn paddled quickly to me and half dragged me onto my board because they had no idea what I was splashing around for. Had Lynn not been there my board would have been long gone. It was easily 20 feet further out to sea from where I landed in the drink. Dan was on the opposite side of me in a kayak. I learned two valuable lessons that day 1) never wear your good pair of sunglasses when paddling and 2) wear your leash.
So when my mom offered me a chance to review a coiled leash I jumped on the opportunity. A traditional leash is the length of your board, especially ones attached to a surf board because when you fall off you want your board to go wide and away and not crack down right on top of your head. Paddling is a little bit different, at least for us since we typically paddle in relatively flat and calm waters of a lagoon with a wide sandbar where if you fall off you will most likely be able to touch the muddy bottom. I’m pretty clumsy so I don’t want to get tangled up in a leash or trip on it transitioning from kneeling to standing.
The leash itself is sturdy. The coil is tight but pliable. The cuff fits both Dan and my ankle. It attaches easily to the board. There is a key pocket on the cuff so that you don’t have to worry your valet key will fall out of your pocket. My car doesn’t have a valet key and there is no way I am taking my expensive key fob in the water with me but for those of you who do have them that’s a terrific bonus. Another big plus is that the cuff is comfortable, it’s wide, soft and I honestly got so used to wearing it that I nearly fell off the board transitioning from standing to sitting with my feet in front of me because I forgot it was on. The reason I got away from wearing a leash in the past was because the one on my long board was miserable. The Velcro dug into my ankle and scratched my skin. After a bazillion times falling off the board and being tumbled around in the surf like a load of jeans in the wash sand would get in between my leg and the cuff and chafe – I was a hot mess. I still am but for entirely different reasons.
This Stand Up Paddle Board Leash is worth your money. It’s a great gift for Christmas or for you. I was the envy of everyone at the lagoon. In fact I noticed this morning that it’s now tethered to Dan’s board, he said it’s so that when he practices turns he doesn’t lose his board. I guess I’d better place an order for another…
This review was written by my daughter Selena.