On a beautiful Saturday morning on the shore of Lake Pearl, six women gathered to try something a little different. The women, all strangers, signed up to take part in standup paddleboard lessons offered by Eastern Mountain Sports through an arrangement with Wrentham Recreation Department. As the morning sun glittered on the calm surface of the lake, the women laughed as they finished signing the necessary paperwork, and each asked questions about the upcoming experience: “Do I have the right footwear?” “How much do the boards weigh?” “How far out will we go out?”
The answers: Eastern Mountain Sports has water shoes to wear as protection for your feet on their boards; the boards weigh between 30 and 40 lbs; and the lesson would take them out pretty far into Lake Pearl, around the island in its center, and along most of its shoreline.
One woman joked she was having a mid-life crisis, while another said this was something she wanted to do for the past two years. “There was no reason not to come,” said Valerie Santangelo from Foxboro.
For Bonnie MacDonald of Millis, she simply wanted to try it after seeing information on the lessons. “I fell upon it,” she says.
Peter Casson, an American Canoe Association (ACA) Certified trainer for Eastern Mountain Sport, led the lesson and the first part took place on land. He discussed the importance of having the paddleboard tethered to the ankle, he sized people for paddles, and demonstrated how to use them.
The lesson continued as activity at Sweatt Beach picked up. The lifeguards at Sweatt Beach were preparing for their day of activity by raking the sand to make sure it was clean and ready for young families. An occasional pontoon boat would pass by making small waves. To attend the lesson, you don’t need a membership to the beach. Simply tell the lifeguards why you’re there and they will let you in.
After the land portion of the lesson was completed, Casson was ready to take the group down to the water, but he first needed everyone to put on life jackets and carry their boards to shore. Casson demonstrated how to turn the paddleboard, the proper way to move the board while kneeling and how to stand upright. One enthusiastic participant “demonstrated” how to get back on the board after falling in the lake.
Casson had the group practice close to shore at first, but it didn’t take long before they were able to venture off across the lake and head towards the island across from Sweatt Beach.
The Eastern Mount Sport operation at Lake Pearl is open 7 days a week. Lessons start as early as 9:30 a.m., but the facility doesn’t officially open until 10 a.m. The paddleboard lessons run for 2 ½ hours and cost $40. There are also sunset paddleboard tours, fitness classes set on the boards, and classes for children ages 9 to 14.
In addition to the rentals, the beach is open 7 days a week from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. weather permitting. Seasonal family passes are available. Wrentham residents are $125.00 while Norfolk and Plainville residents are $150.00. Passes are not required to rent from Eastern Mountain Sports. Season passes are available for purchase at the beach - cash or check. Daily fees are $5 for adults and $3 for children, regardless of residency. Daily fees are payable in cash.
Paddling Like a Pro
By: Cristina Coleman
It was a sunny morning at Lake Pearl when I geared up to go paddleboarding for the first time. My instructor Nin gave me tips. She was very nice and helped me size the paddle, gave me a lifejacket, and found a paddleboard for me to use. Once we went into the water we started on our knees and she asked me if I had a phone in my pocket. I said, “No.” If I did, she didn’t want it to get wet.
I was nervous because it was my first time, and there were many rules to remember like standing in the middle of the board and keeping the paddle in the water. We headed out on our knees until we were deeper into the water. My legs were shaking with nervousness, but I stood up on the paddleboard with ease. Nin taught me to have my right hand on the top when I am paddling on the left side and my left hand on top when I am paddling on the right side. Once I had that under control, we worked on turning. It took a couple tries, but I eventually got the hang of it. Next we headed out to the island in the middle of Lake Pearl.
It was calm and peaceful standing on the paddleboard, and I couldn’t believe I was out that far. Nin stayed with me so she could make sure I was doing everything right. I made it to the island no problem, but on the way back I started to get very tired. I paddled standing up, and then I went to my knees so I could catch my breath. I wanted to finish strong, so I stood up and paddled all the way back. I had to go on my knees so that I would not fall in shallow water. My dad was upset that I came out dry because he wanted to get a good action shot with his camera. It was a quick lesson and I left sore everywhere, but I had a great time. I can’t wait to go again!