The hotter it gets, the more the water beckons.
Whether it is Long Island Sound or the many rivers and lakes crisscrossing the state, these natural resources offer many opportunities for fun on the water.
Two watersports that have grown phenomenally in the last 15 years are kayaking and paddle boarding. Whether you are experienced or a novice, an adventure on the water awaits you.
“I honestly think I’m blessed every day when I go out on the water,” says Chris Burke, owner of Indian River Kayak & Marina (indrivmar.com).
Burke’s enterprise, at 58 Commerce St., Clinton, offers single and tandem kayaks and standup paddleboards, for rentals. There are also sunset and moonlight paddles.
Paddle boarding is done either standing up (SUP) and navigating with a paddle or sitting on the board.
“There’s all sorts of backwater kayaking available from our facility, ” Burke says, noting that in addition to the marina being located on the Indian River, Cedar Island is nearby, as well as Hammonasset State Park, as well as local inlets that flow into Clinton Harbor.
Burke says with all there is to do around his prime waterfront location it really is a hidden gem.
“You can get out and explore parts of the water, safely, that you’d never see, normally, from your car or even walking,” he says.
For those interested in paddle boarding, Jeff Jodoin of Adventure Mystic (adventuremystic.com) explains, “there’s a learning curve to it. It’s not super difficult, but the most important thing is to learn the correct way.”
This includes using the correct size paddle and board in relation to your height, holding the paddle correctly and taking the correct stance on the board.
“If you’re doing the wrong technique you could end up hurting yourself,” he stresses. “You don’t get the same out of it.”
Jodoin is a certified paddle board coach through PaddleFit.
“Paddle boarding is exercise in disguise,” he adds. “Your whole body gets a workout when you’re paddle boarding and most people don’t even realize that and it’s fun."
Jodoin has been at his current location, 15 Holmes St., Mystic, for five years. Prior to setting down roots, his was a mobile business for two years.
“It’s a lot fun,” he says. “I love this job. I like giving lessons and I joke with a lot of the people who after they come back from the lesson have these huge smiles on their faces, where before - the look on their faces, they were so scared.”
Branford River Paddle Sports (branfordriverpaddlesports.com), at 50 Maple St., Branford Landing Marina, Branford, has been in business for five years.
Eileen Martin, who owns the business with Maria Martin, says that “paddle boarding became really popular in the last 10 or 15 years and we love water sports…the coastline is so beautiful.”
Martin, along with the other owners, says a lot of beginners visit their waterfront locations to give kayaking and paddle boarding a try.
“There’s a lot of tourists to the area and then of course, we have the shoreline and people don’t know what to do and they want to be on water, so we find that we get a lot of people coming down to just try it out,” she says.
She is excited to introduce her guests to Outer Island, a part of the Thimble Islands that is open to the public.
“People can actually get off on the island and walk around and if we do a three-hour trip they can enjoy a little lunch, a little quick swim and then paddle back,” she says.
All the experts agree that enjoying both sports is safer and more enjoyable on the calm waters of a river.
“The river’s very protected,” says Jodoin, whose business is situated right on the Mystic River.
“Where we are is a no wake zone,” he added. “The boat traffic that is there is traveling at a low speed, so there’s no wake. So, if you were new or not very experienced at kayaking or paddle boarding it’s much calmer in the river and easier to build your confidence than out in the sound, battling the waves.”
For individuals or even families who prefer to join in the fun with others, all these businesses offer guided tours. Some of the choices available include sunrise paddles, sunset paddles, full moon paddles and guided kayak tours.
Jodoin stresses that a lesson or two is really best to truly enjoy the group outings.
“What we first tell people is, ‘You have to have experience enough to move the kayak and to be able to keep up with the group,’ because we want everyone in the group to have a good time,” he says.
From wearing a personal flotation device, to checking the weather conditions, safety is a top priority for all these business owners.
“The most important thing every paddler must do is wear a PFD that is fitted properly,” says Martin. “It does not work by just having it in the kayak.
“Make sure to check the wind and weather conditions for the time frame you plan to paddle,” she adds. “Weather conditions are a very important factor when on the water. In the early spring the water temperature is still very cold so be sure to wear appropriate water gear.”
So, whether you are planning to stay close to home this summer, entertain guests from out of town or are visiting the Nutmeg State this summer, be sure to check out these local adventures.
“Connecting with nature, being in the woods or on the water, you release stress and tension from the body,” says Jodoin. “It’s a stress reliever.
“It’s all the connectiveness,” he adds. “Being out, that’s what we’re supposed to be doing. We’re not supposed to be staring at our phones. We’re supposed to be out connecting with the world around us.”