By land or sea, movement with intent is an art form. Finding balance between the shapes and creating a purposeful form, whether in the practice of dance or health of fitness, there is beauty, however simple. Incorporating this inherent practice into the natural beauty surrounding Shinnecock Bay, Adventure Paddleboards and Kayaks owner Cherryl Bradley endeavors to get people on the water from morning through sunset, exploring the bay, practicing yoga, and all around good, safe fun.
Starting out as a dancer and after graduating from a performing arts school in Queens, Bradley auditioned for the Ringling Brothers at Madison Square Garden. She didn’t think much of it, though a year later she was hired. “I turned 19 while I was in the circus,” she recalls, laughing with a fondness at her unique career. “I was a professional dancer for several years. I met my kids’ dad in California while on tour with Sesame Street, of all shows. My dream was to dance on Broadway, but I wasn’t much of a singer.”
Bradley moved back to New York in 2009 and came to the North Fork. She had tried her hand at real estate and worked at local wineries, but her dream had been to own her own business. While dating a paddle surfer, she was introduced to the sport of paddleboarding in the winter months. Her first time on a board she donned a wetsuit and by that February, Bradley was intrigued by the prospect of starting a rental company.
With 12 paddleboards and a stack of business cards, Bradley had the idea of being a mobile business. Chatting with the owners of Inn Spot on the Bay in Hampton Bays, she jokingly asked if they would like to have a paddleboard business onsite. They liked the idea, and in 2012 Adventure Paddleboards and Kayaks was born.
“Paddleboarding was still fairly new when I started,” Bradley says. “It was more of a novelty type thing. Then it grew. I added kayaks and paddle yoga classes. I’m in my eighth season and this year I took over the Docker’s Waterside location. It’s a great space – it’s very quiet on the water, there’s a lot of nature. Just very beautiful and picturesque.”
The backdrop of Shinnecock Bay is surely an inspiration for artists, wildlife enthusiasts and of course, watersports. Tranquil and serene, paddling the various waterways within provide a meditative experience for customers. Bradley says that on the South Fork there are now several options to choose from while looking for rentals, but that each company offers something a little different. One thing that seems to be a trend among the local businesses is that they are led by women.
Adventure Paddleboards and Kayaks offers rentals, targeting families and large groups to encourage more people to spend time on the water with a healthy activity. When Bradley first began her business, she offered guided excursions, though she found most wanted to explore on their own. While this is well and good, but she cannot stress the importance of a lesson and safety enough with her customers.
“I do what I call a ‘Quickie for 50,’” Bradley says. “It’s a $35 rental and for the extra $15 I go over all of the equipment, evaluate your paddle skills, make sure you have some technique and are comfortable on your own before heading off for an hour own your own.”
After the tragic paddleboard accident on the North Fork in August where a woman drowned, Bradley’s tutorials and stress to wear a leash and proper life vest are critical. When you’re on the water, understanding how the wind, tide and currents move is essential. Bradley herself has experienced customers that owned their own board or paddled a few times already without a lesson not really understanding these essentials.
“I always told my kids, the trouble with trouble is it always starts as fun,” Bradley shares. “You have to be mindful. Paddling really is a great sport. It is so relaxing, so meditative and a great workout when you know what you’re doing.”
This favorite summer adventure continues through the fall, which is one of the more magical times to explore East End waters. With the season running from when the phone starts ringing to when it stops, Bradley will keep her locations active to offer sunset paddles, floating yoga, and even groups on eight-person boards.
Bradley also works with the Southampton Animal Shelter volunteers to bring rescue dogs on the water to socialize while understanding more about these adoptable animals, encouraging others to bring theirs as well. Next summer as the company grows, Adventure Paddleboards and Kayaks is planning to team up with SurfLuca to offer a standup paddleboard and kayak camp for kids.
Learn more at adventurepaddleboards.com.