Kettle Creek wasn’t frozen-over this morning, but it felt as cold as the proverbial witch’s heart when several Port Stanley women, in delightfully wicked costumes, slipped into the chilly waters on paddleboards to commemorate Halloween.
“With Halloween not being as traditional this year, we thought this was a great way to celebrate the holiday,” said Kristy Suckling, owner of Yellow Brick Pottery. “We definitely had some cold fingers and toes by the time we got back to Bridgeview Marina, but well worth it.
“It’s important to do what makes you happy in life,” she added. “Being on a (paddleboard) in the harbor is a great vantage point of the village and people should definitely give it a try sometime. This time of year is great because other than a few fishing tugs coming in, we had the entire creek to ourselves.”
Suckling was joined this morning by Chelle Gallant, owner of Porta Bella – Casa Mia, Sandra Elfman, a local photographer, Crystal Caughell, owner of Bridgeview Marina, and Carol Thompson, proprietor at Port Lifestyles, and Keller Williams Lifestyles broker. Carol’s husband Deryk Chin provided ground support. A newcomer to the group, Ana Androsik, dropped by on her dog walk, but allowed the chill in the air to dissuade her from getting her feet wet.
The cackling coven of witches set off from Bridgeview Marina at 10 a.m. and paddled south into the harbor, where they cast a few friendly spells at well-wishers onshore, before returning safely to the marina.
“Carol reached out at the end of September and asked if I ever paddleboarded and I have, but not for several years,” said Gallant, who moved to Port a year ago. “It is a wonderful feeling to be involved with like-minded people who live and live life and support one another and work hard and play hard.”
The women’s paddle group of Port Stanley got its start when Thompson – who keeps a board handy at her William Street brokerage – attracted some attention from passersby whenever she jumped on her paddleboard during breaks in her work day. “It is something my husband Deryk and I love to do together. It’s amazing exercise and keeps me in shape for surf season.”
Soon other villagers started inquiring about joining her. “With little time to socialize between business ventures, it was always a great way to hook up with the gals and get out for a paddle.” Her passion was broadcast further across social media when CBC’s Still Standing producers connected with Thompson recently, and she was able to convince host Jonny Harris to give it a try.
“I have always been on the water: surfing, scuba diving, snorkeling, anything to be out having fun in the lakes and ocean,” added Thompson. “My love for surfing started really young … I was hooked.”
Now Thompson and Chin hope to grow the sport and are in the process of launching a shop called Shaka Board, renting and selling boards manufactured by Pau Hana, Red Paddle and Catch Surf.
“Deryk and I saw a real need to get more paddleboards and surfboards, as there is nowhere close to rent, so during (the COVID-19 disruption), we started to pick up more boards,” she said. “It quickly became a delightful obsession and now turned into a business.”