In the end, Bob Purdy will have made it onto the water every day for nearly six years straight.
It began as a movement to change the way we live on the planet and it sparked similar events around the world, a feature documentary and put the spotlight on the environment, our use of plastics and the way we treat the planet we live on.
But as he approaches 2,100 days straight of Stand Up Paddle boarding, Purdy will be forced to take a break as of Sept. 30 this year as the paddler will be forced off the water and into surgery to deal with a hernia that is getting worse instead of better.
“I have been paddling with a hernia for awhile and after a lot of consultation and deliberation, the decision has been made to have surgery,” said Purdy from Tofino, where he moved to in the fall of last year. “This has been a very difficult decision. I have paddled every day for a very long time to promote better care for our planet. It just doesn’t make sense to risk my health to keep the tally running.”
A long-time Kelowna resident, Purdy began his one-man odyssey to bring public awareness to the world’s environmental problems on New Year’s Day 2011. His goal was to paddle every day for 1,000 days in an effort to bring awareness. And so rain or shine and in good conditions and bad, Purdy dusted off his Stand Up Paddle board every day and hit the water, mostly in Okanagan Lake but also in a variety of other places, depending where he was.
When he passed the 1,000 day milestone there was no stopping him.
“Back on day 1,000 when asked how long I would continue to paddle everyday, I said ‘as long as my health holds or until we actually change the way we live on the planet,'” Purdy said. “The hernia has entered the danger zone and it is time for me to take care of my health.”
During his incredible paddling streak, a movement began called Paddle for the Planet, where a series of simultaneous paddles take place around the world, uniting paddlers in an environmental movement. Events have been organized around the world since 2011 with countries joining in for World Paddle for the Planet Day.
Purdy says he has been pushing his body through the pain, but it’s time to get surgery and heal before he can begin paddling again.
“The tipping point was the realization that I have been asking people to help take better car of the planet so that we can send a healthy and vibrant world to future generations,” said Purdy. “My first reaction was to try and keep the streak going but the risk to my health in attempting to paddle the day after the surgery are very high. I will continue to paddle again, just not daily and the tally will start again after I recover.”
For more on World Paddle for the Planet Day, go to paddlefortheplanet.org.