OAKDALE – The Moku Loa Paddle Tribe recently held one of its last social paddles of the season. There was a slight chill in the air last Wednesday evening, but that didn’t stop about two-dozen paddleboarders from going out onto the Connetquot River.
The group’s leaders, Sheila Malone and Mary Sullivan, used to run a more informal meet-up similar to the ones they now hold every Wednesday, from May through October. But once the two saw the demand for these meet-ups, as well as the camaraderie among the participants, they decided to make a business out of it, said Sullivan, a Bohemia resident.
The Moku Loa Paddle Tribe, which also offers lessons and rentals, is currently finishing up its fourth season. It is a female-run business, something that Malone, a Medford resident, says is “pretty important to [them].”
As for what makes paddleboarding special to some, Sullivan said, “It’s a different way of being out on the water. You get to experience nature differently.”
A number of participants last week expressed similar feelings.
Tom Donovan, a West Islip resident, has been paddleboarding for a number of years. “I just enjoy being out on the water,” he said, adding that paddleboarding is much less expensive than buying a boat. “It also makes for a good workout.”
Brooke Kalman, an Islip resident, has paddleboarded several times over a couple of years, but only started with this particular group earlier in the year. “I’ve always been a big water person and I find [paddleboarding] therapeutic,” she said, noting the beautiful sunsets you get to witness.
Mark Worhle, a Farmingville resident, has been paddleboarding for about three years. He said it’s a good substitute for surfing, something he has been doing for around 40 years. “When the waves are smaller, I need something to do,” he said.
Jen Rodgers, a Hauppauge resident, has been paddleboarding for about two years, but last Wednesday was her first time with the Oakdale group. “We live on an island,” she said. “Why not use it?”