If you can imagine a classic, really sunny day,
blue skies, sea like a mill pond.
You’re leaving from a beach that’s very sandy
so you’ve got that turquoise, tropical-looking colour in the water.
You’re with someone who hasn’t done any sea kayaking before.
They’re amazed because they’re coming from
an Inner City place.
We’re just doing a short trip, a couple of hours,
but as soon as they’re out there are porpoises.
They’ve never seen porpoises before.
We’re padding along, starting to explore the coastline.
They’ve never seen anything like the caves, the stacks
and the next thing – dolphins!
That’s great. Tick! Tick!
How can this day get much better?
Just after lunch we start seeing gannets feeding,
diving around our kayaks.
There’s lots of fish around here.
A minke whale – it swam below us.
These are the memories that make a day.
You can’t get much better!
But there are challenges:
the physical challenge of getting tired,
the psychological challenge of going into conditions
you might not have been in before.
Iif you go around a headland
you don’t know what’s around
the corner. What to expect?
People elsewhere in Britain don’t realise
that there’s nothing, basically,
between us and the Arctic
and how significant that is
in terms of sea and environment.
In a kayak you’re intensely aware
of that combination of tide and wave and swell.
The sea is way, way more powerful than we are.
You hear of people going into a supermarket,
buying an inflatable kayak or paddle board,
then off they go onto the sea.
No buoyancy aid or safety equipment.
Limited knowledge of tides and weather
People think that if they get into trouble,
the emergency services will be there straight away,
They don’t realise the only lifeboat
on the North Coast
is in Thurso.
Where’s the next one?
There’s nothing in between.
When the alarm is raised
it can take some time for help to arrive.
You need to be prepared.
You’re all alone out there.
(with thanks to Sheilah Cunningham)