Shackleford Banks is one of the barrier islands off of the North Carolina coast. Just 9 miles of National Seashore, it’s abundant in wildlife and dramatic views. Home of “Bankers” horses (feral horses), which legend has it that they arrived from a shipwreck of Spanish Mustangs back in the 1500’s. Accessible only by vessel, we are choosing man powered SUP boards. We are SUPing to Shackleford Banks hoping to absorb what each island has to offer.
Our departure date is in less than a month and we are trying to plan everything from mapping our paddle, to food. Trying to stay cautiously aware of how much weight we are adding with each addition. The plan is to leave from Harker’s Island. Here we will have to register our float plan with the National Park Service; which gives me comfort. Also, here we will be able to secure our vehicle. Good to know. “No Name” island (that’s what we like to call it), will be visible from shore and will be our first rest point if we need it. Our paddle plan consists of us paddling through 5 islands before we set up base camp on Shackleford Banks.
Once at Shackleford, a convivial of wild horses and glistening stars is what I’m longing for. Sipping coffee as my feet burrow into the sand to the sound of the Atlantic massaging shells onto the shore. Although, most of these banks will be free from tourists as vacancy will be imaginary. Experiencing undisturbed wildlife is so special and one large part that drives me to these adventures along with botany and unparalleled views. Views that many never get to see.
Overnight paddle trips are arduous from the beginning (but it doesn’t compare to the excitement). Picking the right gear because size/weight matters. To the actual paddle. Luckily, we will be near land often and will have the option to take a break if the current is strong.
Our second day on the island, we will paddle to Cape Lookout Lighthouse, and spend the remainder of the day hiking, fishing, and draw lazy into the night. Come morning we will pack up and paddle a little under 5 miles back to shore.
We are so excited to be able to share that NRS (Northwest River Supplies) is sponsoring us and our 215 mile paddle in May. They have graciously sent us the NRS Escape Inflatable SUP in the 12’6″ and the NRS Escape Inflatable SUP in 11’6″. These are touring paddle boards, perfect for our upcoming adventures. We have taken our boards out just once so far but to those who have already asked me, while standing, the NRS Escape feels just like my hard board. It tracks amazingly well way better than my hard board. I feel like I can turn it more precisely and its more stable. They inflate to 20 psi and weighs 26/27 lbs and carrying it down and back up a steep hill to get to and from the water was no problem whatsoever (they also come with a shoulder strap). Deflation and packing it back up took no time. The storage bag feels high quality, has mesh vents for breathability, and also has padded back straps for an easier carry. These boards definitely give me peace of mind heading out from shore. Your vessel is an important thing and determines how your body will feel after a hard days paddle. And peace of mind is worth everything.
Our last two days on that trip will be similar to waters of this trip to Shackleford Banks. We will get a good feel for what to expect those last days in May from board to water. And also a great test for packing. As the departure day draws nigh the excitement grows. I can’t wait to put these boards to the test and share our journey with you.