A few weeks after paddling the Mexican Caribbean, I came home to Wakefield, Rhode Island, with a yearning to continue my water adventures as the temperature began to get warm. In order to do so, however, I needed to find my own standup paddleboard, and came across East Coast Paddle Sports, a local rental (and sales) paddle shop with two convenient locations in East Greenwich and Wakefield, where I began my search.
It wasn’t stand up paddling season just yet in this little New England town, but the owners, Guy Gauvin and Kathleen Tefft, were kind enough to temporarily open the Wakefield shop for me so that I could check out the paddleboards they had in stock. While there, we got to talking a little bit about the RI SUP scene.
This super-friendly duo have many years of paddling experience under their belt, I soon learned. It’s a big part of their active lifestyle, even getting their families in on the fun because, according to Guy, “You can just head out when the moment strikes you, and since there are no motors, no crowds–just you, your thoughts and nature–you can find peace. It’s the best way [that I know of] to relieve stress.”
Kathleen added, “It’s a great work out, too! I can practice yoga, take my dog for a ride, and spend some quality time with my kids and sweetheart. And because it’s very portable, I have the freedom to paddle whenever, wherever I want.”
As an amateur stand up paddler looking to get better in the sport, I was excited to spend time on the water, but didn’t know where to be able to do this back home. Guy and Kathleen are stand up paddle advocates who opened up shop simply to spread the joy paddling brings (providing the best rental rate in the area for this reason–$15/hour for a paddle board, $12/hour for a kayak), and didn’t hesitate to share with me six sweet sup spots in the Ocean State I needed to check out this summer:
Kathleen began, “Narragansett Bay is full of beautiful coves throughout the shorelines of Warwick and East Greenwich. Since I started paddling a few years ago, I have had the opportunity to explore the many coves and inlets that I explored from land as a kid.
“I have also come to understand and respect the currents and tides in our area. Early on, I paddled in Occupessatuxet Cove in Warwick where you can get to Greene Island, but only when it is exposed at low tide. It can get windy which makes for a great workout, but seeing the residential shoreline properties in that area from the water makes it all worth [the sweat].”
Guy chimed in, “Go to Greenwich Cove for an early morning sunrise paddle. Launch from our East Greenwich dock, head north, then after a short paddle, turn east following the shore of Goddard Park, all the while watching the sunrise over Narragansett Bay.”
Johnson Pond & Reynolds Pond
Guy continued, “For fresh water paddling, go to Coventry, launching at Zeke’s Bridge on Johnson Pond, next to the bridge that divides Johnson Pond from Reynolds Pond. Since Johnson Pond is built up and also tends to be a busy place in the summer, most paddlers who put in at Zeke’s Bridge will want to head south under the bridge right next to the boat ramp and into Reynolds Pond.
“Reynolds Pond is a beautiful winding pond with a mix of white pines and cedar swamps along the shore. It is largely within the Big River Management Area, so the shorelines are undeveloped. At the far end of Reynolds Pond, you can keep going under I-95 and up the Big River.”
Kathleen said, “Mill Cove in Wickford is another perfect spot to paddle. There is a cool, heart-shaped island named Rabbit Island for kids to explore, and very little boat traffic in this cove.”
Kathleen continued, “My sister regularly launches from the North Branch of the Pawtuxet River. She is frequently seen floating down the river on her head.”
Guy added, “The Scituate Reservoir is not only the largest source of water for the state, but is also the main feed for the Pawtuxet River. Launching at Hope Dam and paddling north will take you on a winding path through the rural town of Scituate. The river is home to trout, pickeral and sunfish if you care to fish along the way, or you can take in the sights of the eagles that have been spotted in the area and turtles sunning themselves on the rocks.
“As you near the dam of the reservoir, the river begins to narrow and there will be a noticeable temperature drop even in the heat of July. Along the way, there are a few sandy beaches that you can haul up and take a swim break.”
Point Judith Pond
Guy concluded, “I cannot wait to explore all the hidden gems of Point Judith Pond. Point Judith Pond offers wonderfully diverse scenery, ranging from woodlands in the north, to barrier beach in the south. From our Wakefield location, you can paddle north up Saugatucket River to the Mew’s Tavern, or south into the Upper Pond and explore all the coves, beaches and abundant wildlife in the area.”
By the way, I decided on the POP 10’6″ Classico Nature Tech in hot pink, and can’t wait to check out these SUP spots with my new ride.