Amazing Paddles on Amelia Island - No. 2 Ocean Downwinder
Looking for a place to paddle board on a day trip, long weekend, or full fledged vacation? Amelia Island can offer you something unique each time you paddle during your stay. To many the island is a unique and somewhat secret gem along the Atlantic coast of northern Florida. The island has a long and rich history being ruled under 8 different flags including France, Spain and yes, a pirate. Albeit small in size, the island is surprisingly diverse and contains an abundance of wildlife, historic landmarks, uncrowded beaches and scenic vistas all making Amelia Island a true SUP destination. I am sharing a few of the best places to explore on a SUP in my series – Amazing Paddles on Amelia Island.
No. 2 Ride Some Bumps on a 13 Mile Downwinder
I have seen many storms in my life… so I had to learn very quickly to look further and understand that I am not capable of controlling the weather, to exercise the art of patience and to respect the fury of nature… - Paulo Coelho. Don't fight it. When the wind howls embrace it. Kite boarding and paddle boarding are two options to get you on the water in these conditions.
Every year we get a number of nor’easters. These weather systems create powerful winds out of the northeast and create some of the best swell we get on the island. The strong winds and swell direction are perfect conditions for a downwinder. The best time to catch a nor’easter is between September and April.
Amelia Island is 13 miles long and about 2.5 miles wide. This is almost the exact same size as Manhattan. In fact, the historic Fernandina Beach downtown street grid was modeled after Manhattan. With the curvature of the island (i.e., the north end extends further east than the south end) and state parks on both the north and south end we are set up perfectly for doing downwinders.
For this paddle you need to set up a shuttle. The launch point is Ft. Clinch State Park on the north end of the island. To start, paddle offshore to line yourself up with the wind and swell. From there head southwest and ride the wind and surf the bumps. I am always amazed at the calmness I feel riding the wind despite the raging seas.
The exit point is the Amelia Island State Park on the south end of the island. A 14' or 12'6" displacement hull paddle board is ideal for this paddle. Pick the right paddle board based on swell size and shape. Surfing the bumps on these boards is an interesting challenge that makes the paddle that much more fun. Be sure to wear a SUP leash and inflatable PFD (equipped with marine whistle) as you will be well offshore. Enjoy.
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