I love big open stretches of water, which is just as well since I spent most of Monday in, rather than on, Kinghorn Loch learning how to sup.
That stands for stand up paddleboarding. But let’s just call it paddleboarding, as the standing up bit largely eluded me.
This was not my first rodeo either.
A few years ago, my partner Jenny and I were on an idyllic holiday in Greece, hopping from island to island with back packs on, living off spinach pies and the coldest Mythos beer.
Three islands in we arrived on Naxos which was stunning.
We’d found ourselves a beautiful bit of beach and noticed a man was hiring out paddle boards and nothing seemed more perfect at the time.
Life jackets were provided, top tips on what to do with the thing were not.
Boldly we headed out.
It was gloriously warm and the water refreshing.
We got up on to our knees on our respective boards and messed around using all the instinctive moves you’d try if you’d ever sat in a rowing boat or canoe.
Suddenly we looked back to shore and realised we could only just see the man hiring out the boards.
They’d told us Tom Hanks had a house just around the corner, I didn’t fancy finding it on this thing
We had drifted out to sea and done so very quickly.
We were still just in the bay but not far from the open channel we’d traversed on a boat trip the previous day.
They’d told us Tom Hanks had a house just around the corner, I didn’t fancy finding it on this thing.
Slow progress and quick thinking
We panicked and dug our paddles in for shore.
I soon realised I was expending a lot of energy to not get very far, so I ditched the paddle and lay down across the board using front crawl either side of it.
That seemed to work better as my own body was no longer providing a sail for the gusty wind to charge against.
I felt like I was making a good bit more progress but I was still probably only half way and exhausted.
I turned to find to my horror that Jenny was a good bit behind me.
We’d been separated and I could barely hear her.
Judgement time. Do I stop and go back for her or keep going in the hope of getting help?
Reader, don’t judge me, but I pressed on for shore.
Seconds later though the guy who’d rented us the boards was driving past me in his speed boat to pick up Jenny.
She boarded the boat. I had the ignominy of being towed in on a rope.
We were rescued and we were absolutely fine.
We were warm, we had a drink, gathered ourselves and laughed about it.
Were we in real trouble in that water? Probably not.
I suspect the guy on the shoreline had seen this episode before and was just waiting for the right level of panic before gruffly boarding his boat for the fourth time that week.
Did we get a hard and harsh lesson in the dangers of water?
Rip currents and tides are powerful, dangerous things.
Combined with cold water shock in Scotland they’re deadly as we’ve seen far too many times this summer.
Water tragedies a reminder of dangers
I’m hugely sympathetic to the argument that all children should have the right to learn to swim for free, but that alone is not enough.
I’m not convinced Adam Peaty or Duncan Scott would have been wholly untroubled if they’d found themselves out at sea.
Team GBs most decorated athlete at a single games 🥇🥈🥈🥈
A huge thank you for all the amazing messages, the support has been unreal 🙌🏼 pic.twitter.com/2tzfhegAcO
— Duncan Scott (@Dunks_Scott) August 2, 2021
Back in Kinghorn Loch, I’m getting a proper lesson in how to paddleboard because I’m now the proud new owner of one.
A gorgeous gift to mark a pending significant birthday.
And to make sure I see another one, lessons have also been purchased.
It’s a Tuesday morning, with the haar down. This is self evidently not Greece so we’ve got wet suits on and of course life jackets.
I can attest for the value of the wet suit because my first attempt to stand up leads to a complete dunking.
Jenny, of course, is gliding across the water like a lithe and graceful swan.
Now I have to get myself back on this board to try again. I will not be defeated.
Our instructor advises it’s best to let yourself float on the water first and then drag yourself up.
This isn’t pretty.
If you’ve ever seen the seals in Eyemouth throw themselves out the water on to the Harbourside, you’re beginning to get the picture.
I get back up but I’ll be in with the fishes many times over before this lesson is over.
Who knows if this paddleboarding phase will be a summer fling or a lifelong love?
But I’ve got all the gear now, including that personal understanding of just powerful the water is.
All I need to do now is stand up.