South Florida has some incredible places to explore, but have you ever done it on a paddleboard?
WPTV talked to Jay Ailworth, a longtime Jupiter resident, who helps people learn the sport.
“I’m 71 years old,” Ailworth said. “I didn’t even start paddling until I was 60.”
For years, Ailworth has been helping people enjoy the Jupiter Waterway Park.
He’s on the water almost every day giving eco-paddleboard tours where he offers a mix of paddling instruction and up-close views of wildlife while mixing it with a bit of history and humor.
He said he often sees turtles, spotted eagle rays, manatees and an array of birds while on his eco-tours.
“Manatees literarily come right under the board,” Ailworth said. “I’ve had them bump into me. You can look at them from the shore and various places and stuff, but you’re never going to find a spot where they actually come right up to you.”
He discussed the array of birds he sees on a daily basis while cruising the water on his board.
“We’ve got egrets. We’ve got herons,” Ailworth said. “We’ve got night herons. We’ve got ospreys year round.”
Ospreys, which often mate for life, are often seen high up on trees or in their nests.
However, he said the birds have been less active this summer with the unusually warm temperatures.
In addition to being extremely knowledgeable about wildlife, Ailworth gives pointers along the ride and teaches people of all ages and skill levels.
“The thing for most people [that can be difficult] is that standing up part,” Ailworth said. “They get up here and got knock-kneed. The key is to keep the paddle close to the water and relax.”
One helpful tip that he gives paddleboarders is to always be aware of the tides and have some idea of the current.
“You gotta come home from wherever you end up,” he said. “You go the hard way (into the wind or against the current) first.”
For more information on how to sign up for an eco-paddleboard tour, visit the Blueline Surf and Paddle Company website.