The Original Paddleboarders

While its undeniable great exercise, I find paddleboarding to be weird. For someone who is ungraceful, it seems like a disaster waiting to happen…. I would totally fall into the water by becoming distracted or loosing my balance in some way the second a wave would come. But I am fascinated with the concept since it is a “newish sport” in the states.

Out here on the lake, you can tell the Mayan Pescador’s have been doing this for centuries. Often in the morning when it is nice and quiet, we see them standing and paddling in their boats… with purpose. For these paddleboarders, it is a practicality and a way to see the fish below; they can see above the reflections of the boats and clouds on the water. Oddly enough it seems like the older crowd are the ones who stand more often, which we can assume is due to their ‘go get em’ mentality that the younger generations don’t have. (Even here the teen-young adults are just as misguided and lazy as those in the states, but for these guys it is their meal for the day, not recreation.)


Their technique is more of an “L” shape than in the REI PUP videos. The Mayan’s bend over a bit more when sinking their paddle into the lake. This might due to the length of their paddles more than a specific desire for a technique. The paddles are multi-purpose and must act as a normal paddle for a sitting kayak as well. In the afternoon’s you will see many SUP Pescador’s because the lake is choppier and it is easier to gain power of motion from above, especially when the wind is not working in their favor.

Inside of a boat

The boats are made from hollowed trees with side boards and are thought to have been brought here in design by the Yu’pik Artic Natives. The fronts are long and pointy and the back is flat, but flared up and out. It reminds me of a fat, elementary school crayon or an arrow without wings. They certainly don’t look light or aerodynamic, very unlike the design of a modern-day paddleboard.


If you search paddleboarding you get a ton of links, but the most popular is REI’s Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) page which provides instructions, the proper gear and a total overview using videos, etc. If you are looking at this objectively and not for actual use, the SUP page is humerous; we have invented a proper safety standard for something which is so  innate to an indigenous culture.