Cloud Cuckoo Land: a utopia so far from reality… Every now and then when we’re on the road with Marilyn, we feel like we’re in a castle on a cloud. And then when we also experience breathtaking nature on our SUPs and seem to be gliding through a sea of clouds, we really feel like we’re in a different world. And to prove that it’s all very real and within reach for everyone, we wanted to tell you this story.
We experienced a totally surprising and spontaneous summer day last year in February that gave this story its title. We were at our favourite spot, Brouwersdam, there was aaaaabsolutely no wind and was about 15 degrees. We’ve never seen the sea that flat! We quickly unloaded our stand up paddleboards from Marilyn and took off for a fantastic trip. The clouds were reflected so clearly in the turquoise water that we almost lost our balance because we couldn’t tell which surface was up or down!! It’s impossible to describe it with words, but the first photo does an excellent job. It seriously didn’t seem real. And then Bo fried up a tasty dinner in front of the motorhome that we enjoyed along with our view of the ocean. What a way to start the year!
So what’s all this about stand up paddleboarding? As water-wind-sea enthusiasts, you at some point try to extend your time on the water even when there’s no wind. That is where stand up paddleboarding comes in, or “SUP” for short. You see the sport everywhere now and on every lake. It originates from the world of beach board surfing, where you stand up and “paddle out” directly.
That eliminates having to pop up and the boards are bigger, which means you have more fun on smaller waves. Even back when we were kids, we used our huge windsurfing boards to paddle on days without wind, so it looks like we were ahead of our time back then. :)
We are pretty in love with this sport. It’s the perfect solution for nil-wind days and lake field trips. You can make yourself comfortable, use the SUP board as a sunbathing island or be more athletic. And anyone who has ever had to paddle against the wind discovers interesting new muscle groups in their body! But no matter in which form, it’s a very healthy type of sport that trains your sense of balance and gently exercises a lot of muscles. Another important thing: you don’t need any prior experience. It’s obviously better to learn a bit about the techniques, but you basically can’t do anything wrong apart from falling in the water. And that’s not a bad thing in summer.
Something that makes it more convenient for everyday use and a motorhome are iSUPs: i.e. inflatable boards. They fit in a big rucksack and perfectly in Marilyn’s wardrobe right under the rear bed. It’s an awesome advantage for us to always have them on board. After all, the best adventures are always spontaneous due to the weather and you can’t plan them ahead of time. Part of the deal is blowing them up, which is the toughest part of it all! If you manage that, then you can give yourself a pat on the back.
What’s funny is that our SUP days have become the best parts of our holidays. You just feel great because you can discover and appreciate your surroundings in peace and quiet. We do have one recommendation in the beginning: there really should not be any wind. Or paddle upwind first and then back. It’s easy to underestimate how much contact you have with such a big board and how tough it is to get moving when going upwind. One of our most impressive nature discovery tours was on Isla de Arousa in Northern Spain. We paddled from our pitch all the way to the end of the peninsula, which you can see in the picture.
We felt a little like Robinson Crusoe on his deserted island, or perhaps a little like in Cloud Cuckoo Land...? The water was suuuuper crystal clear, as you can also see in the pictures. And you don’t even know where to begin: should I marvel at the clouds, at the beautiful beach or perhaps at the colours of the water? An absolute highlight: Frohmi saw a little ray float right under the SUP and was so surprised she almost fell in the water.
One thing though – you always need to take care of your equipment! Our secret weapon is our outdoor shower. You can literally watch anything that comes into contact with saltwater start to deteriorate, which is why we always give everything a quick hose down. Your equipment will thank you!!
Now a little something about our boards: we bought our boards second-hand from a friend and they’re already seven years old now! There are definitely improved or lighter designs now or some that are easier to steer. If you want some advice on what to buy: rent one first or go to your local surf shop and ask what they advise to keep your first trip from being a flop ;). Finding the right shape and size does matter and it especially needs to be right for what you have planned. If you’re not sure who to contact, we would be happy to help out. :-)
And even though it looks easy, there are some basic rules to consider: protecting nature and obviously your safety are of top priority. For example, breeding grounds for birds shouldn’t be disturbed and strong currents or a sudden change in weather are by no means uncommon. So our request is: put safety and nature first. Then comes the most important part: having fun ;-)
Frohmi’s favourite kind of SUP trip is the sunbathing island package. ;) During our last holiday in Southern France at Lac de Hourtin, it was about 38 degrees and we thought the only way to deal with the heat was on our SUPs. Well, we were wrong – always take along enough clothing, water and something to cover your head. We nearly sizzled into nothingness! In the end, we put our SUPs on a buoy and ourselves in the water! What a relief!!!
What helped in the end was to spend the rest of the day under the awning while everything else dried. Fabulous motorhome living!
In autumn last year, we made our way to the Bavarian lakes. While we had hoped to catch some wind for a kite surfing session, we had unbelievably bad weather for an entire week. But we did have two hours on Lake Walchen, where we unloaded the SUPs and paddled over an amazingly crystal clear cloud-mountain-mirror and you could see the first snow on the mountains on the horizon. That’s a mountain panorama that even someone from the lowlands of Tyrol can deal with ;). It almost looks surreal, like on the Holodeck. Like we said, Cloud Cuckoo Land...
It’s always the best when Marilyn can park right by the water!
Apart from 35 degree days on the water, you should rely on a neoprene wetsuit for SUPing. The wind gets cold fast and when you’re on a mountain lake, it feels like your feet are about to freeze. It helps to keep the rest of your body warm. Then you can also elegantly dive into the gorgeous water at the end. Brain death is guaranteed here, brrrrr... Okay, so that actually was cold.
Then to wrap things up, we’ll take a quick excursion back to wind sport, but it also has to do with the iSUP that we briefly wrote about in our last story. We finally had everything put together and Bo successfully rode the first few metres: he floated over the surface of the water thanks to what’s known as the hydrofoil underneath the board. The whole deal is called wing foiling. The board is also an SUP and you can even surf small waves with it, which is something we want to try out soon. The board is inflatable and the “wings” can be taken apart, so it all fits perfectly in the rear garage. It’s great to always have everything along with us – hopefully for a whole lot more Cloud Cuckoo Land adventures!
Bye for now,