The Art of Crafting Eco-Friendly Paddleboards

The Art of Crafting Eco-Friendly Paddleboards

There are many wonders in the great state of Michigan. The Midwestern gem flourishes with must-see small towns and is home to more than 11,000 inland lakes making it a paradise for watersport enthusiasts.

People awe over the beauties of the ocean-like Great Lakes. You, too, will find yourself in awe when you visit one of Michigan’s coastal beach lines or one of the thousands of crystal clear inland lakes for the first time.

Here, water is a large part of our lifestyle. Whether we enjoy it leisurely or for livelihood, the waters of Michigan are what make this state home.


How it Started and How it's Going

It took one question to unravel a world of possibilities for Jason Thelen. In 2012, Thelen’s daughter wanted to explore northern Michigan’s waterways by paddleboard. Shawni, Thelen’s daughter, asked for a paddleboard, but not just any paddleboard – a board made from natural materials. As an artist and master craftsman by trade, Thelen decided rather than purchasing a plastic foam-core paddleboard, he would use his skills (and undeniable interest) to build his daughter her very own custom, eco-friendly wooden paddleboard.

Fast forward to 2022, Thelen owns and operates what is now Little Bay Boards. The name was coined after its location near Little Traverse Bay in Petoskey, Michigan. Board-making has turned into Thelen’s full-time career and Little Bay Boards has become a globally recognized business.

What makes Little Bay Boards special, you might ask? Well, it’s anything but your average board. For starters, each board is designed and handcrafted here in Michigan. It generally takes four weeks to create a custom Little Bay Board, not including the time spent carefully handpicking high-quality wood and materials. With that said, Thelen and his team don’t cut any corners throughout their process. They dedicate as much time as needed to craft the perfect board.

The Details

Each board is produced with a hollow-core wood frame, making it lightweight and easy to float without the need for any toxic, unnatural foam materials. The selection of wood used to build these boards are from reclaimed and locally-sourced materials primarily found in Boyne Falls, Michigan. Each piece of wood is chosen for its beauty and pieced together by hand. Artists by nature, Thelen and his team expose the grain of each piece before sending it off to the glassing room where everything comes together, miraculously creating a one-of-a-kind board. (See video for more details on the process.)

In short, Little Bay Boards are more than just paddleboards. They are works of art that provide an experience with nature that goes unmatched. Boyne Country Sports is proud to announce that Little Bay Boards are now available in Bloomfield Hills, Traverse City, and Grand Rapids locations.