Wetsuit Workout

When the conditions are right, there is nothing more peaceful than being out on the ocean on a stand-up paddle board. Here on the Salish Sea, we are surrounded by the Olympic Mountains. There are otters and seals in the water, herons, geese, and eagles in flight, and of course, there's plenty of fish and boats of all sizes to watch.

The temperature of the Pacific Ocean around Vancouver Island varies. The water rarely gets above 15ºC/59ºF. During the fall and winter, there is a drop in temperature of the water down to the single digit in Celsius (mid 40s Fahrenheit). This means we wear wetsuits when we're out on our boards. I have a hood, boots, and gloves for my full suit.

Getting a wetsuit on and off is a skill, one I'm still working on. I find it's an exhausting endeavour peeling the booties off, and by the time I pull and stretch and wiggle the top half of my body out of the suit, I'm sweating. Rubber and sweat aren't a good combination. The suit just sticks to you more.

A wetsuit isn't supposed to fit loosely. You want it snug so you keep warm and water doesn't pool between your skin and the suit. If you're used to hiding your jiggly bits under layers of clothing, you can't do this in a wetsuit. It's best to accept your imperfections and focus on where you're going through the waves. That's also good form for traveling through life; be at peace with your shortcomings, and focus on your path ahead.

What's SUP?

Stand-up Paddle Boarding, or SUP, is a growing sport on Vancouver Island. There are numerous places to drop in and explore the scenic waterways around Greater Victoria and Sooke. I prefer going on the ocean, but paddling around the lakes in the area has been adventurous too. 

My very first paddle on a board was at Kemp Lake in Sooke. This is a small body of water, and there is access to the lake right off Kemp Lake Road. We were able to park our truck so close that I didn't have to carry the board more than a few feet. This was perfect for me because at that time I found the board heavy to carry. My board weighs in at 35 pounds with paddle.

I wore a full wetsuit that first time to see how it fit and what my mobility would be like in it. I had bought the suit in Edmonton, AB, before I moved to the Island. There was a store closing-out sale so I got a great deal, but I wasn't sure about how the suit would fit after I lost a few pounds. I hoped it would be easier to get on and off.

The suit was really warm and I felt safe in it since wetsuits offer full body flotation. What I didn't realize is the workout I would get while fitting the skin tight suit on, and later getting it off. The booties were even more of a challenge. I should explain though, I was trying to remove the suit modestly behind a towel, beside our parked truck, after the paddle. It's an experience that still makes me cringe. I now wear a half wetsuit, and I wear a bathing suit under it so I never have to contort myself behind a towel like that again.  

I have a Harding board that is 10 feet long and 3 feet wide. This board is designed for surfing as well, but it's definitely a good size for paddling. I've had no problem staying balanced on it, or riding out rough water. What tends to happen in the chop is that my own fear of the water, and my inexperience in the white caps tires me out. I've never come off my board or worried for my safety. To avoid dangerous situations, I always paddle with someone, and we always check the tide and weather before hitting the water.

I plan to follow up with a blog on my favorite places to drop in on my paddle board, and I'd like to write more about the wetsuit workout. I'll also discuss how I've outfitted myself for SUP.

I welcome your questions and comments. 

Island Living

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Follow Highway 14 round the southwest tip of Vancouver Island and you'll end up in a seaside town called Sooke. Situated on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, also known as the Salish Sea, and facing the Olympic Mountains, Sooke is a vibrant arts community. I am a writer here among painters, sculptors, carvers, authors and entrepreneurs. 

Born and raised in Victoria, a 45 minute drive from Sooke, I moved away as a young adult to find work. I ended up spending more than half my life on the Prairies, but I married and raised a daughter in that time, and helped her start her adult life as an artist in Vancouver. When an opportunity came up two years ago to move back near the ocean, my husband and I sold our house in Edmonton, quit our jobs, and moved back to the place we both call home.

In Sooke, I feel reconnected to my roots. The tall trees whisper to me in the wind, and the ocean tide pulls at my creative thoughts. I'm surrounded by coastal rainforest and beautiful provincial parks and beaches. There are so many recreational activities available in this area that I'm discovering, or rediscovering, and I want to share my experiences with you. 

The inspiration to write has exploded within me since moving home. I experienced two NaNoWriMo while living in Edmonton. NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month and happens every November. The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I completed two novels during those challenges. I'm now developing a book series and I'll be writing about my journey to publish.

I welcome your comments.