North Carolina does not sound like paddle boarding country, but for Charley Lewis it looked perfect. With eastern Carolina flat and rivers dumping slowly into the protected inner water ways of the coast, it really is a great spot thanks to tons of water easily navigated. Charley owns Stand Up Outfitters in New Bern, where the Neuse River widens and slows to the point you think it’s the ocean. The slow and calm descriptions were the most encouraging for my brother and me. I’ve paddle boarded once, in Morro Bay California, and my brother had two days experience in Guam. Charley delivered two boards to a drop off point that allowed us water views of downtown and some of the immaculate, historic homes on the shore. He gave us a short tutorial then snapped pictures of our first strokes. For the next hour and change my brother and I toured the water. It was awesome. If I could have trusted my balance I would have brought my camera.
When we returned Charley told us how important stand up paddling became after injuring his back. Made sense. He also mentioned how many military families stationed in the area picked up the sport. That too was logical. Charley seems less like a rigid business owner and more like a dude that runs a paddle board rental place. But that doesn’t mean he lacks professionalism.
After the boards were loaded he wasn’t returning to the shop, he was going surfing. Not a bad life. That afternoon I decided North Carolina is much more than just pulled pork sandwiches.