Meet me on the water: Stand up paddle adventure tour guide and her SUP pup

Photo by Courtney Sinclair Copyright©
Meet me on the water: Stand up paddle adventure tours offered next season

Deep in the heart of the Ottawa Valley you can sometimes catch a glimpse of Courtney Sinclair gliding across the top of a calm, pristine river on her stand up paddle (SUP) board. Courtney began her SUP journey last summer on the waters surrounding Algonquin Park, ON and her home in Mansfield, QC. It was a new skill to master and a fresh way to get in touch with nature. Little did she know her new water sport was going to change her and her dog’s life.

Sully was just a puppy when Courtney rescued him from the Renfrew County OSPCA. The hound mix quickly became Courtney’s outdoor companion and joined her on her many explorations- most of which happened near the water.

“First he couldn't even swim,” Courtney said in an interview on Nov. 9. “I tried to teach him last summer.”

It turned out all Sully needed was a little help from the neighbors dog. Sully would watch the other dog swim out to fetch a stick and he just had to try it for himself.

“He just followed him out there,” Courtney explained. “He learned how to swim from the other dog.”

When Courtney started to SUP out on the Ottawa River that runs along her water-front home Sully would chase her- running along the shore line to try and stay by her side. Once Sully was a stronger swimmer he started swimming out to see Courtney.

“He came out with me and just sat on it,” Courtney said, referring to her SUP board. “I didn't try to teach him. He just decided that I couldn't leave him.”

Once Sully determined he was going to be a SUP pup Courtney was sure to evaluate the safety of the situation. It was important to her to make sure that Sully didn't get too tired when they were paddling and she had to be sure he could handle a fall. Luckily Sully isn't a very big hound-dog.

“I can help him back on the board,” said Courtney. “He wears a life jacket every time.”

Photo by Courtney Sinclair Copyright©
Courtney first developed an interest in paddling when she attended a SUP yoga retreat with Northern Edge Algonquin. That small taste was enough to make her want to take a big bite out of SUP right away.

“When I was done [the retreat] I bought a board at the nearest town,” Courtney said with a laugh. “For me the most fun of paddling is the experience you get with it. I can connect with myself and the water.”

Courtney is excited to now be able to share that experience with other SUP and nature fanatics. This fall she completed her Advanced Flatwater SUP instructor certification and she will be offering SUP adventure tours and private lessons. The course not only tested her SUP abilities but also her abilities as a teacher.

For those already skilled in the water sport can explore the scenic flat water river spots that Courtney loves on her guided tours. First timers or those wanting to advance their skills can book lessons with Courtney to get the ins and outs of SUP. She will come to a client’s cottage and home or use public meeting places for lessons but adventures will go off the grid to some of the most stunning spots in the Ottawa Valley.

“It’s very secluded- your connection with nature is really elevated,” Courtney explains. “[SUP] has fitness benefits too- it’s a core workout, helps improve balance and you can do yoga and push ups on the board. It is kind of a trick in that it doesn't feel like a work out.”

There is no one better to give a tour of these waters than Courtney. This wilderness has been her in backyard for as long as she can remember and she loves being submerged in nature. As far as SUP lessons with dogs Courtney is concerned about safety and not having a dog trainer present for lessons but she isn't ruling it out entirely.

“If it was a private lesson and we were at [the clients] cottage and they wanted to try it out then why not,” Courtney said.

Details on Courtney’s lessons and adventure tours will be available in the spring on but paddle enthusiasts can submit their SUP stories and photos to Courtney’s blog MyPaddle(X) to share with other SUP aficionados. Learn more about Sully the SUP pup by checking him out on PawsFor Reaction.

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