The song of the paddle

One of the things that I don’t do enough of in my life is canoeing. Which is to say that I’ve been perhaps once or twice. Over twenty years ago. But I absolutely loved it and have been kicking myself ever since for not having done more. It has that rugged outdoorsy-ness to it that many sporting activities seem to lack. And, unlike kayaking, you don’t have to worry about whether your eskimo rolling skills are still up to scratch.

So it was with considerable enthusiasm that Natalie, Molly and I actually got our acts together sufficiently to take a short canoeing trip down part of the River Wye. It’s one of the best places in the country for canoeing and (I’m ashamed to admit) it’s only about an hour’s drive from my front door.

There was also a certain trepidation to the escapade, though, as while Natalie and I have both canoed before and know that we like it, nobody was quite sure about Molly. Do Labradors canoe? Or would we end up taking the shortest canoe trip ever, followed by an extended swim and a hefty damage bill?

Molly canoeing 1-2

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It’s scooting time

Last week, if you couldĀ cast your mind back, you may recall that I bemoaned the lack of watersports in my life. Well, you can rest assured that this was a one off. Because we have a new addition to the family, in the form of a Perception Scooter sit on top kayak. I used to think that sit on tops weren’t ‘real’ kayaks, but were rather aimed at pudgy holidaymakers looking to get sunburned in the surf. But I’m pleased to admit that I was wrong. Very wrong. Because my Scooter is truly awesome. Continue reading

The water dog

It turns out that Molly, who woofs manically whenever there’s anything new going on in the garden (or, indeed, anywhere in the broad vicinity of the house) is bizarrely at ease among kayaks and windsurfing boards.

At one point, I’d rolled the kayak onto its side to clean the bottom. I looked around to see where Molly had disappeared to and found her stretched out along the underside of the ‘yak. Fast asleep.

Molly the water dog. Definitely a hound after my own heart.

A little light paddleboarding

Whilst on holiday in South Devon a couple of years ago, Natalie and I were taking an evening walk along the clifftops when we came across a small cove. There was a light onshore breeze and the waves were washing gently onto the sandy beach. And riding these waves with effortless grace was a bloke on a stand-up paddleboard. I didn’t know at the time that it was a stand-up paddleboard. I just knew that it looked amazingly cool and that I wanted to have a go.

As regular readers of my blog will know, it can sometimes take me a little while to get around to doing things. But I usually get there in the end. Which is why last Saturday I ventured down to Lyme Regis in Dorset for an introductory paddleboarding lesson with instructor Jake at watersports specialists Boylo’s, who are basedĀ on the marine parade overlooking the beach.*

It was a fantastic day weather-wise, with temperatures in the high twenties and wall to wall sunshine, so I was keen to get out on the water. Luckily, so was Jake, and after a quick briefing we were soon lugging our boards down to the water’s edge. And five minutes later I was up, paddling and trying desperately not to fall off. (Yes, it really is that easy!)

We headed over first to quiet corner behind the sea wall, where Jake showed me various ways of steering the board and of making tight turns without losing momentum. I practiced these for a little while until I was confident in my ability to go where I wanted to go (and I only fell off once!), at which point Jake suggested that we paddle out into the bay. He pointed out a large cardinal buoy a few hundred metres distant and off we set.

Here we are… (I’m the one on the right.)

And here we are again. Note that I’m still upright. (Just)

The great thing about being upright on the board was the visibility that this position affords, both horizontally and down into the sea. Paddling over a shallow reef, we saw all kinds of fish and other marine life.

I may be biased, but I think I’m starting to look a little more confident in the photo below. (I’m still on the right.)

With my hour up, we paddled back to the beach, much to the bemusement of the families tucking into their lunch.

From start to finish, I had an amazing time. And I shall definitely be going paddleboarding again. I just hope it doesn’t take me another two years to get around to it.

* If you’re near Lyme Regis and you’d like to have a go for yourself, I’d very much recommend that you give Boylo’s a call.