Capt. Lou: I'm speaking with Dick Allen. He's the founder of BIGFISH Paddleboards. Dick, what's special about your paddle boards?
Dick Allen: Well, they're inflatable paddle boards, Lou. The biggest assets that we provide with our paddleboard are rigidity, durability and stability. So if you think about it, paddle boarding is an experience that for the novice, they may feel a little nervous. They want stability. They want to feel like they can stand on that board and not fall off. With a lot of the hard boards they are a little narrower. They might be shorter. They might be different sizes. There are many sizes of paddle boards. What we've tried to do is create a board that provides a good overall experience for 80% of paddlers out there. So It's all about durability and stability. The last thing you want to be doing is falling off the board all the time. You really want to feel comfortable and have a good overall paddleboard experience. We think we can provide that. It's unbelievable but years ago they started with inflatable paddle boards but they just didn't have a good reputation. It was the way they were made at the time - they were thin. They were only 4 in think and they basically were like rafts. They just didn't have the rigidity that we have today. So now the technology has improved 5 fold. We have paddle boards today that are 6 inches thick with what we call Korean drop-stitch technology. It makes the board very rigid. The beauty of it is you have the rigidity of a hard board with the portability of a knapsack. It all rolls up like a sleeping bag into a knapsack. It's just nice to have something that can be that portable and also that is not fiberglass. The boaters just don't like fiberglass banging on their fiberglass boats.
Lou: I'm looking at one now and it's as hard as a brick when it's inflated.
DA: It really is. Most people when they first touch one they says they can't believe its inflatable. That's the beauty of it. They offer the experience of a hard board with portability.
Lou: And like you say, fiberglass boat owners don't have to worry about it scratching the fiberglass or dinging the boat.
DA: We were at the Boston Boat Show in February and I had more people come up to me and tell me they had fiberglass boards hit their boat. They ding the fiberglass board. They ding the boat and then you need to do fiberglass repairs. The BIGFISH board will bounce off the boat or the dock and you're not going to have any damage. Whereas with the fiberglass boards, once you crack one you have to do the work to repair it or the water infiltrates the core and the next thing you know the 30 lb board weighs 40 lbs..
Lou: How much does it weigh? It's doesn't feel very heavy.
DA: In the bag it weighs 35 lb with all the accessories that are included. Along with the board you get the paddle, the pump, a leash, 2 removable fins - one for shallow water and one for deeper water. We also give you a repair kit in case you need it, but these boards are made of real durable PVC. There is a double layer on the top, a double layer on the bottom and a third layer on the rail so there is redundancy built in. You don't have to worry about leakage, and they are very, very indestructible.
Lou: How long does it take to inflate one?
DA: With our hand pump it takes about 12 minutes. But if you had a vacuum you could reverse the vacuum, inflate it about 90% of the way and then finish inflating with the hand pump. The hand pump is needed because you need the high pressure because you need to get to 12-15 psi - you need that to get the rigidity of a hard board.
Lou: How long does it take to learn how to paddle one? And how long does it compare to a wooden board?
DA: Well, first off the beauty of paddleboarding is that anyone can do it. It's not something that you have to practice for a long time and it's not something that you have to learn for a long time. A I would say the average person in 10 minutes will start to feel comfortable enough so that they can get on this board and stand up and feel that they are not going to fall over. As to the experience that you have with an inflatable vs a hardboard - hard boards are more variable, whereas the inflatable that we've designed will suit 80% of the market. So it's a good board for the novice and It's a good board for the intermediate paddler. If you're going to be a serious racer or if you're going to be out in big surf then you probably want to go out and get a hard board suited specifically to your needs. But we've found that most people just want to go out and enjoy the day and be able to have an all-around board that the whole family can use.
Lou: Will it hold me and my dog?
DA: It sure will Lou. In fact I've had lots of people ask me about dogs on paddleboards and we're even thinking about running a contest for people with their dog on the nose of the paddleboard, and getting some pictures and some video.
Lou: I'm speaking with Dick Allen, the founder of BIGFISH Paddleboards. Do you have a web site?
DA: Yes, we do. That's at bigfishpaddleboards.com and you can get a lot of information on the web site. We try to give people an understanding of paddleboards and what to look for when they're buying one. We show comparisons. We talk about how to paddleboard. Lots of photos and we have our manual on there. I think by the time someone is through they will have a good idea of what paddleboarding is all about.
Lou: Do you recommend people putting their name and address on the bottom of the board?
DA: Absolutely Lou. In fact the coast Guard has an orange label that they like people to put on boards like that, so in case the board did get away from them they can identify the owner. It's up to the Coast Guard to identify whether there is somebody at risk out there, so that is certainly something that people should do. The Coast Guard considers the paddleboard a "Vessel under 16 Feet". Most people don't realize that, but it's considered a "Vessel Under 16 Feet" by the Coast Guard and it's subject to all the same rules as that class of vessels. So although you are not required to have a life jacket on, you are required to have one with you. We recommend that you wear one, but if you don't there is a bungee cord on the board and you can store the life jacket with it. We also recommend a leash that you can wear so the board doesn't get away from you in the wind. And you always want to observe the local waterway rules. You don't want to be out in the channel. People think they own the channel but you don't want to be paddleboarding out in the middle of the channel with busy boat traffic.
Lou: Can people buy the paddle board from your web site?
DA: Yes, they can Lou. They can go to bigfishpaddleboards.com and we have a shopping cart for online puchase. We have 2 different options. We offer the Bluefish Paddleboard, which is a 10 ft 2 in board, and we offer the Kingfish Paddleboard, which is an 11 ft board. Those boards sell for $995 and $1095 and that includes all the accessories.
Lou: Any advantage to Nautical Talk listeners?
DA: Your listeners can go to bigfishpaddleboards.com and enter "Captain Lou" when it asks for a discount code and they will all receive a $100 discount on our paddleboard package.
Lou: I can see families bringing them to the beach. Is it ok to sit on the board in the sand?
DA: It's not going to affect it to sit on it in the sand, but you do want to be careful because of the keel - there's a fin on the bottom - so you don't really want to sit on that end of the board. But you can sit on the nose end of the board - that would be ok.
Lou: What do most people do - do they lie on the board and use their arms to paddle a bit before they stand up on the board in the ocean?
DA: If they're on the beach they could do that but they don't have to paddle very far before they stand up. But what we recommend is for people to kneel first. If they kneel on the board, paddle to get started with the experience a little bit, and then when they feel comfortable they come to a standing position, looking straight ahead, and paddle, and it's really that easy. Really anybody can do it. Paddle boarding is the fastest growing water sport in the world. The reason for that is that not only is it so easy that anybody can do it but it's a good core workout. This is a healthy experience where people really can get in shape just by paddle boarding.
Lou: And does one size fit all for the family?
DA: That's what we think. One size does fit all when it comes to our paddleboard. Other paddle-boards out there are more tailored to one user. I would compare it to buying your first bicycle. If you're going off to find your first bicycle, you don't look for a 21 speed carbon fiber bike that weighs 12 lb. You'd start out with a basic all-around bike so you can find out if you like riding bicycles. Then you learn and when you become an expert and you decide that you want to race or compete, then you go and buy that carbon fiber 12 lb bike. But to start out we feel that this is a great experience and some more advanced specialty boards might deter some people if they buy more high-scale board that doesn't really fit their needs.
Lou: I can't wait to try one. Well, Dick Allen, thanks so much. I wish you the best of luck with BIGFISH Paddleboards and listeners go to bigfishpaddleboards.com.
DA: Don't forget to enter "Captain Lou" at checkout when it asks for a discount code and everyone will get a $100 discount on the paddleboard package.