Airmen Activities: Paddleboarding

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Stephan Coleman
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
The outdoor recreation center at the marina rents paddleboards for $5 an hour (minimum two hours), or $15 for a full day, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A paddleboard is a giant foam surfboard that is propelled with a paddle. It's a workout, but it's also entertaining It's the closest activity to surfing available in Biloxi.

To rent a paddleboard, you need an identification card and $10-15. Also recommended is a few hours time, sunscreen and aquatic gear. Be prepared for the weather as the wind and the tides affect the ease of the activity.

After filling out a short form for paddle accountability (don't lose your paddle), patrons are taken to their giant foam surfboards and given a life jacket. Ask all questions before shoving off from one of the finger docks (the staff won't know your experience level)

Grab your paddleboard by its inlaid handle and take it to the water's edge. Be sure to attach the leash to your ankle and keep a firm grip on the paddle -- it doesn't float well and may sink. You won't move well on the water without a paddle. Adjust it to your height before mounting your board.

It's best for beginners to start off kneeling for stability. Keep your knees parallel and have your paddle in front of you, perpendicular to the board, as you push from the dock.

Be aware of a few things while leaving the marina: other water craft, the direction of the current, and very probably a jeering crowd at one of the fishing piers. Get to a standing position before open waters, and although everybody watching wants you to fall, don't.

Paddling is similar to kayaking or canoeing, except your paddle is one-sided, so you change hands depending on the side your stroke is on. Be sure to steer into waves, and whether you follow the current first and return paddling against it, or the other way around, just be sure you understand the choice you are making. Paddling against the current is not easy.

If you're paddling against the current and you notice the landmarks along the Back Bay are stationary, you need to paddle closer to the shore. Sometimes the current is too strong and you won't be paddling against it. Trust me.

When you return to the marina, place your items where they were issued to you and take the paddle to the desk upstairs.

All in all, paddle boarding is a full body workout that is also great fun. Leaving the marina on a giant foam surfboard, with the entire Back Bay to explore, is an adventure.