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Life is Short, Take the Leap

Published on August 9th, 2018

by Molly Winans, SpinSheet magazine
Call it analysis paralysis. Call it fear of buyer’s remorse. I suffered from it as I chose my new standup paddleboard (SUP), which come to think of it, is my first boat purchase.

I can imagine readers’ reactions to this statement. Salty sailors may say, “What? How can you have sailed since childhood, yet never owned a boat?” Savvy readers may say, “Sailing OPB for 40 years? Way to go!”

Yacht brokers may rub their hands together and say, “Paddleboarding is the gateway drug for bigger boat purchases.” Mark Bandy and Mark Saunders, owners of East of Maui Board Shop, are surely saying, “She made up her mind… finally!”

Each reaction holds truth in it. It took me two years to make this simple boat purchase. It helped that I already had a cheap starter board. It wasn’t fast or sexy, but it was a stable platform for learning.

I used the heck out of it for four summers, paddling the creek in the evening, strapping it to the deck of my guy’s 40-foot boat, visiting local anchorages, where I’d drop it in to explore the shallows and birdwatch, sometimes to paddle by moonlight back to the boat from a neighboring boat’s cocktail hour.

I was ready to buy a new board in the summer of 2017, when my starter board had seriously warped, its bow dipping under water. Instead of marching over to East of Maui to make it happen, I stopped in to get more information. I kept paddling the misshapen SUP, even though it looked and felt ridiculous, and I had to step way back on it and “pop a wheelie” to keep the bow afloat.

It’s a little embarrassing how many times I asked the East of Maui guys the same questions. I came to learn that every potential board buyer has similar wishes. We want our boards to be everything—stable, light, fast, durable, attractive, easy to store, and inexpensive. It’s kind of like wanting to date a supermodel with a PhD who is also quite wealthy and cooks well. The fantasy needs to be toned down a notch.

I’m sure our yacht broker readers are nodding knowingly. Buyers of all sizes of boats want it all, right? And just as boat buyers learn to compromise, SUP buyers must let go of a super-quality or two to find a realistic, suitable board.

One week in May, I marched into East of Maui and told Mark B., “I’m ready. Let’s do this.” We went through my repetitive series of questions. I thought I wanted to buy an inflatable touring board. Mark B. called his supplier to clarify details about one of them and promised to call me over the weekend. Then, over the weekend, probably around the time I missed his call, I tested a friend’s tippy inflatable and started to panic.

I walked back into EOM on Monday. Mark S. manned the shop this time. “I changed my mind,” I told him. I told him how I cared about stability more than storage and had spent my weekend fretting about car racks, locks, my sore rotator cuff, and whether I could carry the board on my own.

Mark S. asked the magic question, “Do you like pink?” Why yes, I did. Within a week, the board was on a custom rack on my car and splashed in my home creek. I love it. The only question I have left is “What took me so long?

If you’re suffering from indecision, remember that it’s really about getting out on the water more often. Life is short, so if you find a boat—anything from a SUP to a yacht—that meets most of your fantasy requirements, take the leap! You won’t regret it.

SpinSheet is a Chesapeake based sailing magazine delivering news about racing, cruising, and daysailing on the Chesapeake Bay.

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