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by Frank Colleta - San Antonio, Texas - USA

I am always looking for new ways to go boating. Three years ago I started hearing about this new kind of boat called stand up paddle board or SUP. One day I was up in Austin and passed by Lady Bird Lake where I saw people stand up paddling. I was intrigued and had to try it. I was sure I was going to like it.

In 2012, I asked Beth, my darling wife, if she'd wanted to try to SUP. Beth was not sure she was up for this new experience and was admittedly anxious. Fortunately, my Beth has always been a good sport when I dragged her out on boating adventure. So off we went to Boerne City Lake to rent SUPs. The weather was perfect and the lake water was warm.

We rented two SUPs from Hill Country Paddle Sports and Kyle, the owner, showed us how it is done. It seemed easy enough to me. However, Beth was not so sure. We started from shore kneeing on the boards. Once away from shore we stood on our feet, as instructed. Now it was my turn to be anxious. I stood up tentatively, paddled a few strokes with the six foot long paddle and, fell off. I was pleased to find that getting back on the SUP was easy. All I had to do is hold the board from the side and pull it under my body to re-board.

Upon re-boarded I got on my knees, then on my feet. Beth began to laugh at me with as I standing bent over with my butt up in the air hesitantly moving to a stand up position. OK, I was back up, but not relaxed. A few strokes and splash, I fell off again. This time the wind started to carry the board away because I did not have a leash attaching me to the board. As I swam for the board Beth paddles, on her feet, to my rescue and rounded up my board. I got back on the board on my feet and fell off several more times that day.

Meanwhile, Beth never fell off once. She was having a blast paddling around and making fun of me as I got up and fell and got up and fell over and over. Now you will recall that this was my idea. I was confident and Beth was apprehensive. As it turned out she took to paddling a SUP like a duck takes to water. Me? Not so much. Beth had so much fun she went out and rented SUPs a second time and took her friend, Terri. This time out I brought my Michalak Toto to paddle. And, again on this second trip, she never fell off. This whole thing was beginning to get under my skin.

I had to do something to remedy my severely bruised ego. I had built wooden boats and had a desire to try skin on frame construction. I'd met Dave Gentry in Sail Oklahoma and watched him build one of his SOF paddle boards. This prompted me to decide to build Dave's Lanai design SOF stand up paddle board for Beth.

I ordered the Lanai plans from Gentry Custom Boats and started building in the spring of 2013. I worked on it off and on taking one year to complete. Dave supplies building patterns and an easy to follow building manual. The framed for the board look like an airplane wing before it is covered with polyester fabric. The nice thing about SOF is there is very little sanding required. It should be noted, that the Lanai could have been built in a much shorter period of time if I had worked more diligent. Anyhow, I finished it in late April 2013 and in time for Mother's Day.

Finished and out of the shop in the light of day.
View from the stern.

In fact, we took Beth's new SUP out to Boerne City Lake on Mother's day for her maiden voyage. Weighing only about 25 pounds, it was easy for one person to carry to the beach. Beth paddled for a couple of hours and she declared that she loved her new SUP. It paddles easily and tracked well and the fabric was water tight. I also tried the new SUP but decided to paddle kneeling and sitting. I was not going to suffer the humiliation of another fall.

Happy Beth with her Mother's Day gift.
Beth cutting through the waves.
Beth with her friend Terri on a production SUP.
Sitting and kneeling is fun, too.

I am very pleased that we tried this new form of boating. Beth has found her boating niche and I had an excuse for building a SOF craft. Best of all, my wife is pleased to boast that her hubby hand crafted her Mother's day gift. She was so pleased that she decided to name her board the SUP Darlin?

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