Empire Kayaks


Suddenly, Stand-Up Paddling is everywhere! This hot, new sport was featured in a recent issue of "Coastal Living", my local paper...even my favorite sportswear catalog! So, in an effort to take you on an active and unique DayTrip, I thought, "Let's do it!"

The history of this sport is rooted in the beautiful state of Hawaii but it's no longer just a Polynesian tradition. It's experiencing a renaissance which is closely tied to fitness. The paddling works the core, as well as the arms, and proves to be an excellent workout.

"Empire Kayaks" in Nassau County on the South Shore of Long Island rents these extra long, extra wide surf boards and paddles for just twenty dollars an hour. Mike Fehling, who owns the rustic shop in Island Park, gave me a quick lesson. We kneeled on the boards and paddled around just a bit to get a feel for the rhythm of the sport. I felt pretty confident, so Mike instructed me to stand straight! After a bit of wobbling and a "Yikes" or two, I was Stand-Up Paddling! I got the hang of it fairly quickly. All except for turning. Ah, yes. Turning. The thorn in my paw. Going straight was no problem. But, turning the board was very challenging!

Mike took me into a beautiful marsh where we saw lovely birds, turtles and plant life. "It's like walking on water," he said. And, boy, was he right! Being up high provides the paddler with a very cool perspective. Mike said he always prefers sightseeing on a board rather than a kayak with it's low seats.

Our excursion was exciting at times...and peaceful at times. I really enjoyed the sport! And, you know what? The boards feels really stable! I stayed completely dry! That, to me, equals success!

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