Tuesday, August 20, 2013

SUPing With Coastal Expeditions On Hectic Shem Creek-A Fun Way To Spend A Day

Shem Creek was alive with watersports enthusiast and boaters. It was a typical Sunday crowd. For me, it was another  suntastic day SUPing on the water. It was hot, it was humid and a nice breeze was blowing in from Charleston Bay. Only difference from my last outing, Nature Adventures Outfitters had no SUP boards available due to the large crowd of renters, so I went to Coastal Expeditions located on the other side of the bridge further down creek.

Coastal Expeditions is located in a quieter area of Shem Creek with less boat traffic, unlike Nature Adventures Outfitters, which is right in the heart of the hustle and bustle associated with the numerous waterside restaurants and bars. The rental office and adjoining deck overlooks the creek. It is considered the flagship store of Coastal Expeditions, a family owned business that has been on Shem Creek for 20 years. There are two other locations, one on Folly Creek and one on the Isle of Palms and Morgan Creek. It also has restrooms and changing area, conveniences Nature Adventures Outfitters lacks.

Fortunately, SUP boards were available at Coastal Expeditions. It offered a two hour rental for $29 and a four hour rental for $40. I was somewhat disappointed they didn't offer a three hour rental like NAO for $29, but they were gracious enough to accommodate my concerns and said, "If you happen to come back in three hours, we will only charge you an additional $10." I was pleased with the arrangement even though it was more expensive than NAO.

The attendants readied our boards and we entered the meandering waters of Shem Creek. I started off in the kneeling position, but once I pulled away from the dock, I tentatively pushed up to a standing position and paddled toward the bridge, passing the private docks of Shem Creek's residents and the tall grass growing along the water's edge gently swaying like a hula dancer in the tidal current and balmy breeze.

Moments later, we passed under the Coleman Blvd bridge and entered the busy waters of the restaurant and bar district of Shem Creek. Fellow paddleboarders and kayakers competed for the best picture taking positions as several dolphins were breaching the waters around the numerous boats pulling-in and taking-off from the docks close to the Waters Edge.

We unabatedly continued forward past the restaurants toward Charleston Bay and Crab Bank Island, our first planned destination. Near a dock extending out into the bay on the left side of the Shem Creek's head waters, the surf was choppy from the boats cruising passed. Unable to navigate the turbulent waters, I took my first unplanned plunge into the warm, salty waters. Fortunately, my pride was spared any embarrassment when a fellow paddleboarder likewise descended into the waters. Unfortunately, I lost my sun glasses in the mishap. They were loosely hooked to the straps of my life jacket. Maybe someday, someone will glimpse a dolphin swimming around Shem Creek sporting a pair of sunglasses.

I pulled myself back onto the board and continued. Strangely, we were the only paddleboarders in the bay and on the island. The view of the downtown skyline, Ravenel Bridge and historic Shem Creek was spectacular as usual. I soaked in the ambiance and chatted awhile with my fellow paddleboarder about life's simple pleasures, family and hobbies. The three hours passed by quickly. It was another fantastic day of paddleboarding thanks to Coastal Expeditions.

Coastal Expeditions offers more than just paddleboard and kayak rentals. It hosts charter expeditions to some of the remotest, unspoiled estuaries and islands of coastal Charleston, accessible only by boat or ferry. Islands and estuaries like Morris Island, Capers Island, Bulls Island and Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. Charters depart from the Shem Creek Maritime Center and Garris Landing in Awendaw, SC. For a complete description of what you will see and schedules, go to Coastal Expeditions and Bulls Island.

Get out and paddle your cares away for a day.

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