Steve Carter from Sunset Surf has been exploring the Mediterranean on the Uli inflatable Stand Up Paddle Surfing board.
The Uli inflatable board is a magic invention and as soon as I saw one I wanted to combine a sailing trip in the Mediterranean with an Uli on board to explore new coastlines and crystal clear waters.
So when the stars aligned I took three friends and borrowed not one but two Uli boards from a very nice man indeed. We had an original 11 foot Uli and a very newly borrowed 10 foot Uli plus two metal three piece paddles. With a 20kg each luggage allowance we packed four bags, 2 x Ulis in 2 North Face duffel bags, both just under 20kgs and 2 more smaller duffels with boardies, bikinis and tooth brushes and the odd shirt, the girls were allowed 2 pairs of flip-flops and 2 dresses which they were cool with. They stealthed in a bit more but we all had plenty of clothes, 2 boards and were still 8 kgs under weight.
We flew to Preveza and took ownership of our 34 foot Oceanis as home for a week. Provisioned with water, beer, wine, pringles and fruit we were good to go.
Day 1, had us motoring, due to lack of wind, from our base just south of Palairos on the Greek mainland to the island of Meganisi. Stopping on route to test our anchoring skills and diving off the boat into clear water. Once in Port the Ulis were on deck and frantically being pumped up. It took less than 10 minutes from the bag to the water for both boards. Over the side we went and introduced the most bemused yachties and locals with our paddle round the marina and bay.
Total freedom was the feeling. The boards are so stable, you could even get away with out having a dingy, and paddle to shore clothed for dinner, using the Uli as the coolest entrance to the jetty outside the yacht club bar. Only the journey back after dark and beer made us rethink that one! We often paddled to the bars for pre dinner drinks, stepping off your board in shorts to order a large chilled beer three steps from your board is definitely the way to go.
We spent the 6 days sailing from blue bay to marina, each time unstrapping the boards from the front rail and introducing the islands of Lefkas, Meganissi, Kalamos and the Greek main land portside villages to stand up paddling. Some of our fellow flotilla sailors also had a go. We explored under water caves, paddled to snorkeling areas not accessible by the yacht, paddled way up clear coast lines, paddled past million dollar super yachts turning heads as we went. The only disconcerting observation was the distinct lack of ocean life that passed under our boards as we paddled many kilometers. We see so much more in the sea at Gwithian.
The trip finished back at the Sunsail base and with 6 hours to kill before the flight it was rude not to paddle up the coast, on arrival back to the marina some of the kids at the Sunsail hotel, on seeing us, had grabbed some Canadian canoe paddles and were standing up on windsurfing boards paddling around the swimming area. More converts, they had it wired too.
Sailing and Stand up paddling are a match made in heaven and the Ulis were the perfect tool for the job. We shall definitely be going again.