This is one of the questions I get a lot. What's SUP? To clear things up, SUP represents "Stand Up Paddleboards" and they have hit the mainstream paddle craft industry head on.
SUP is one of the fastest growing recreational sports today and it evolved from surfing and the old style long board. Today they come in all shapes and sizes and there is one for just about everyone. You can do anything from yoga or fish from them. I personally like the Riviera Voyager. It has a displacement hull (racing style) and is buoyant enough that I can fish from it. In fact, I have managed to catch a couple of 20-inch red fish from it. However I have not hooked up to the big test yet.
Anyway, the displacement hull on the Voyager allows me the ability to move fast even in chop to my destination. In contrast the rounder nose on the conventional style SUP (surf board) works in flat water and is not as fast. Another important feature I find in the Riviera boards is glide. You want a board that will give you a good glide with each paddle stroke.
What's the big attraction? The advantage the SUPs hold is the stand up point of view. This perspective gives you a better look at the underwater world around you. In the back flats of Southwest Florida, this can be a fascinating experience.
The U.S. Coast Guard predicted that tens of thousands of new paddle craft will hit Southwest Florida waters this year alone. Many of these will be SUPs. They have also instituted the first USCG Paddle Craft Safety Program for the public to get safety certification. I am proud to announce that Calusa Ghost Tours is one of the first paddle craft companies in the country to participate in the program. All our paddle craft have USCG inspection stickers on them. We also have one of the first USCG instructors on staff.
In closing, I would like to remind boaters that as this industry increases so does the chance of accidental encounters. Please watch your wake. Many boaters don't realize they are responsible for any damage their wake may cause. On the same note, all you paddlers out there, stay out of the boater channels unless necessary and stay to the side when in them. The USCG has requirements on paddle craft: floatation device (if leased to the board it is a floatation device), a whistle, and a light or reflective material on board.
-- John Paeno is the owner/operator of Calusa Ghost Tours, which has concessions at Bowditch Point Park on Fort Myers Beach as well as Riverside Park in Bonita Springs.