above image: Barn Island @italirican2003 Bluff Point State Park Popular walking, mountain biking, picnic, fishing…
Are you looking for some quiet but fun safely-distanced time with girlfriends? Consider a group stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) lesson at The Sandbar Mystic. With the first lesson you’ll float and skim along the water enjoying beautiful scenery. Will you get wet? Maybe, but that can be part of the fun. You’ll wear a life jacket and learn from a certified instructor. SUPing could become your new favorite thing.
Becky, Shaely, and I arrive at 37 Water Street Mystic across the street from the Daniel Packer Inne and across the river from Red 36. The brown barn building is adjacent to a small public dock from where we launch. We’re psyched for 90 minutes of fresh air, sunshine, and girlfriend time away from life’s noise and distractions. Manager Melanie Boger and our instructor, Meg Thompson greet us. After filling out and signing consent forms we stuff lockers with, keys, phones, shoes, and other items we don’t need while on the water. I tuck my phone in a dry bag under my lifejacket on a neck lanyard but use it only from dry land.
Meg sizes a paddle for each of us and demonstrates how to balance on our knees then on our feet then back on our knees. Paddle handling basics are topped off by attaching a stretchy line with a Velcro clasp to our ankles to keep the board from floating away if we fall off. The water is warm and soothing on our bare feet. We paddle away from shore on our knees then stand up. We’ll kneel down again when returning to land.
The four of us carefully cross the Mystic River past docked boats into a shallow cove for practice balancing, paddling, and turning. We chat a bit and watch a beautiful family of three ducks travel around the outside edge of the grassy bank. They aren’t alarmed by us but we’re charmed by them. At different points we sit, kneel, or even lie down on our boards and breathe deeply to let stress leave our bodies. Sunlight glints on the calm water…then there’s a splash. Someone fell in while practicing. No problem; the water is refreshing and shallow so it is easy to get back up, especially with encouragement. A few minutes later in the choppier water at the railroad bridge there is another tumble into the water but no one is hurt, just wet and smiling. Weekends produce more boat traffic and wakes (waves) but today is perfect for a first lesson we all enjoyed. Thanks, Meg.
Saturday Women’s Intro to SUP classes from 8-10am are popular. So, too, are Yoga and Move-it with Meg fitness classes. Meg tried SUPing three years ago while visiting Mystic. She fell in love with the sport, and left a job in higher education at Conn College for a happy life on the water. She is PaddleFIT certified to work with all ages including boisterous kids but savors time with women who enjoy the sense of control and tranquility that accompanies a self-propelled watercraft.
We’ll get better with practice and time on the water is healthy, healing, and joyful whether solo or with friends. A few clients return week after week for companionship with their fresh air exercise. Women of all experience levels meet Saturdays from 8-10am. Wednesday evening group paddles from 6-7:00pm end with a relaxing adult beverage at Wine Down Wednesdays. Monday morning guided paddle is 8-9:30 and additional events are posted on Facebook and Instagram. You must be an experienced paddle boarder to attend a scheduled event but Meg is available for individual or group lessons and any group of 5 or more may schedule your own event. A one-hour rental is $25 and additional hours are $15 each. A four-hour rental is $60.
The Sandbar Mystic
37 Water St. 10-6 every day until weather cools in late September.
Call ahead 860-393-4046 to reserve your board, paddle, and life jacket.
- You must be over 18 to paddle alone.
- A changing room and lockers are available but no public bathroom.
- Public bathrooms are over the downtown bascule bridge at River Park.
- You’ll paddle barefoot and may want to wear a swimsuit with or without shorts.
- Glasses should be secured with a floating eyeglass holder.
- Hats, sunscreen, and a beach towel are recommended.
- If you forget something, Gatorade, water, granola bars, and energy bars are available for purchase.