Having just returned from a winter of travels we hit the ground running in mid-May to get organized for the busy Martha's Vineyard summer vacation season. With big plans to completely reshape our company's branding, web presence and host of services to include a new variety of SUP experiences targeting the emerging population of capable paddlers, some already owning equipment, we had our work cut out!
After 4 years of beginner lessons and board rentals, on the morning of July 5th we were booked for our first 'Guided Paddle Outing' with return customers from Connecticut, Trish and Scott. Into the wee hours of the night, and possible in part due too the Mate tea I had earlier in the day, I lay awake pondering what fate Mother Nature would bestow upon me on this, my first chance to share my passion for paddling the Martha's Vineyard waters guiding standup paddlers.
The forecast was for moderate West winds to build stronger throughout the day, but for anyone that knows New England weather, forecast wind strength and direction are seldom so accurate that one can rest assured to take the sunfish out with the kids, until they've set foot in the water minutes before! To keep my sanity I woke earlier than necessary, after a night of torrential thunder storms to scope the spot I had chosen with time for a change if need be. I loaded two shiny new Yolo Boards, 1 Banh Pho and Crispy Noodle 14, paddles, leashes, pfd's, GoPro, and 3 fresh-made smoothies, and hit the road for the 15 minute drive to Quitsa Pond from West Tisbury. Cresting the hill and descending towards the spot I caught my first sight of the water, and a reflection of the nearby oyster shack was cast over the surface a perfect mirror image; I let out a deep breath of relief and began to excite for the opportunity about to unfold.
Trish and Scott rolled in and in short time we geared up and hit the water. Our paddle led us in and around the Westernmost sides of the pond alongside emerald green sea grass banks, over ancient Wampanoag stone fishing dikes and all the while with crystal clear views to the bottom replete with fish, crabs, shells and sand. With previous paddle experience Trish and Scott had no trouble maneuvering the new 12 foot Yolo Board Cruiser and Original keeping good pace as we worked our way out of Quitsa Pond and into Menemsha Pond for a short trek further to a secluded beach where we would take our smoothie break. Scott, an avid photographer, could not believe his eyes with snow-white egrets standing within yards of his board keeping a close eye on his every move.
As we approached the beach at Herring Creek we passed a replica Wampanoag dugout canoe tied to a pier, black-charred white oak insides and chisel marks visible all over, that had been recently crafted and paddled by the local tribe to welcome the Hokulea Polynesian voyaging canoe just in from Hawaii only a week before.
We approached from shallow sandy-bottomed waters and eased up to the shore to take our break in the hot sun and enjoy the 3 blueberry/banana smoothies I had kept on ice in a soft-cooler on my board.
Rested and re-energized we set off with a building light west wind at our backs for the trip back. In no time we rounded the corner into Quitsa to find the waters lightly textured making for a healthy workout paddle. The light head-wind made timely a few good stroke technique pointers to get us moving a bit more efficiently as we trekked back to the launch, before taking one last spin underneath the bridge to Stonewall Pond and the barrier beach to the open Atlantic.
With an almost slack high tide we ducked our way back under the bridge keeping boards pointed straight to navigate the head-on current through the 12 foot wide passage before taking out at the dock and loading the boards. Two nicer people you couldn't find and better conditions just don't exist for this my first guided standup paddle tour of Quitsa Pond on Martha's Vineyard.