A morning of zen with Adventure Paddleboards

Participants in the Broads on Boards class. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

It’s 7 a.m. and I’m walking down a sandy beach in South Jamesport with a group of North Fork women and preparing to climb atop a paddleboard for the first time in my life.

Mattituck resident Cherryl Bradley surveys the early morning sun rising above a mirror-like Peconic Bay and says the thing we’re all thinking: “Oh my gosh, this seriously couldn’t be better.”

Bradley is the owner of Adventure Paddleboards, which offers board and kayak rentals at its Hampton Bays location as well as at Jamesport Bay Suites, where we are gathered on this Friday morning. The company hosts a weekly “Broads on Boards” class, a meet-up aimed at novice women paddleboarders over 40, although it is open to all. Many are there to squeeze in some exercise before heading to work and, during today’s class, all the women present are from the North Fork.

“It’s for the early bird,” Bradley said. “The small-business owner who wants to get their workout done before work. It’s for the local working people who want to enjoy the beautiful water we have out here.”

We zip on our life vests and carry our boards to the water, which doesn’t feel a degree cooler than the air temperature. Life vest and board rental are included in the $25 class fee, which is convenient for those of us who don’t have roof racks on our cars or aren’t ready to invest in boards of our own.

Instructor Susan Halladay, who is also the hotel manager, gives a brief tutorial before we embark. Being that it’s my first time, I listen closely.

Susan Halladay and Cherryl Bradley prepare to launch the boards. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

She recommends climbing on the board and balancing on your knees first. She also demonstrates the proper way to hold the paddle, and how to steer.

Then we push out.

A self-proclaimed weakling, I recalled a time I ventured out on a kayak about a decade ago for a story and found myself struggling to stay with the pack. Eventually, I suffered the humiliating fate of having the instructor hook me up to his vessel and tow me to land.

Luckily, no such thing happened this time — and even if it had, I felt it wouldn’t have mattered as much in this forgiving environment.

The pace was manageable, even for someone who had never paddleboarded before. Honestly, I found it to be the perfect level of strain.

Once we reached our destination, a sandbar in the bay, we pulled our boards ashore for some meditation and yoga. I’d left my phone back on land so, free from distractions, I leaned into the quiet.

It was pure peace.

Participants in the Broads on Boards class take a meditation break. (Credit: Erin Halladay, courtesy)

Then we enjoyed a beautiful paddle back to the starting point.

Since listening to a “Tim Ferriss Show” podcast on the subject last week, I’ve been ruminating on how my morning routine affects my performance and mood throughout the work day. Many of those interviewed claimed that automating choices, such as what to wear or eat, can free up your mind to focus on more important tasks.

To put it in digital terms, an early morning paddle doesn’t automate any tasks, but it does free up mental bandwith by closing the apps you have running in the back of your mind.

Ultimately, a stressful morning makes for a stressful day. But the same can be said of starting the day in bliss.

“It sets the tone for my day,” said attendee Marissa Drago, owner of Main Road Biscuit Co. in Jamesport and the mother of an 8-year-old boy. “It allows me to do a little meditation before I head into the craziness.”

I second that.

Adventure Paddleboards hosts “Broads on Boards” every Wednesday and Friday at 7 a.m. For more information on other meet-ups, private classes and daily rentals visit adventurepaddleboards.com.