When we moved back to Wales, we lived in a house on a hill overlooking the entrance to the marina in Aberystwyth. We watched boats go in and out of the marina. You could see dolphins from our kitchen and surfers from our garden. It was a like a non-stop real-life movie scene. I decided what I really wanted to get involved with this view… was a kayak.
I’m not a surfer. Too scary for me. Not too much of a sailor either – and when I mean sailor, I mean enthusiastic. I feel destined to go as slowly as possible in the safest possible environment. How do you do that on the water, I wondered? Aha. Get a sit-on kayak. And only go on it when the sea is calm enough to ensure you won’t easily get knocked-off. Go, adventure.
I didn’t end up on the kayak many times. It was a bit difficult negotiating it down the hill. I wheeled it down a few times to the water’s edge, but it ended up too much of a chore. So, when we sold that house three years later and moved into our bungalow across the road from the sea, I thought things looked up kayak-wise. I planned to do a lot of paddling. Interacting with nature. Keeping a safe if respectful distance from the resident population of surprisingly large bottlenose dolphins. That kayak hung up on our garden wall for years. It made an excellent if large ornament.
Before we left on Quest, I made a last-minute purchase of an inflatable kayak. God, did Jack hate it. It sat in Quest’s lazarette (not a word used often enough I think) and gathered dust and some hateful looks from the captain until I got it out one day and blew it up. Not an explosive blow – I inflated it. I ignored the comments about it being dangerous (‘Inflatables are just dangerous’), unsightly (‘Floating condoms look more attractive’) and how no help would be given to looking after it at all. I blew that thing up anyway and went out on it. Over and over again.
It turned out to be one of the best things on Quest.. for me. By contrast, our little dinghy – Evil Edna – with her 15hp engine was a handful. Especially if slightly unbalanced with weight. We also inherited an inflatable paddling board, and while this is definitely the fashion accessory of choice in the sparkling bays of the Caribbean, I didn’t love it. Any wind or current and you’re working really hard to both stay standing and go in the intended direction. Kayaking was my thing.
When we came home, we left the inflatable kayak on Quest, all rolled up and back in the lazarette. Upon our return flight to Wales I remembered we did still have one hanging up on our garden wall. A solid one – even better for steering and handling in the water than the inflatable. And a sea, if not so warm, just a few metres away. So, what on Earth am I doing, sitting here and writing this now? I need to keep a safe if respectful distance from those dolphins.