Growing up in England, with family members scattered across each coast, I was lucky enough to spend the majority of my childhood submersed in water.
Be it the North Sea, the English Channel or simply the lake next to my childhood home, if I was in it, I was happy.
My deep love for the sea developed, as I grew older, leading me to take up a multitude of water sports. In my time I’ve tried my hand at pretty much everything, kite surfing, wake boarding, surfing, windsurfing, skim boarding, if you could name I’d have done it.
It was not until recently however, that I discovered the joys of kayaking. I could not believe I had taken so long to discover it.
Previously I’d dismissed it, saying it was just a lazy mans surfing as you could sit down, and was for people that didn’t want to get wet.
In my eyes, it was the getting wet, and preforming mind-boggling bails from a surfboard that was the fun and I thought the kayak would distract from this. I could not have been more wrong.
Over Easter of 2013, I was lucky enough to take a trip to Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands off the southern coast of Europe.
It was here that my love for kayaking really came into fruition. As a destination for water sports, I would highly recommend Tenerife.
Due to it’s remote location, there is enough fetch to bring up solid winds and excellent swells, opening up the door for surfing, windsurfing and kite surfing for a start.
The temperature is great, and the water temperature refreshing. Best of all though, as it’s an island, surf is almost guaranteed on one side of it.
Our base camp was a catamaran harbored in Santa Cruz, that we would take out to sea each day for spectacular island views and to avoid the other, slightly rowdier tourists.
It was the perfect escape, peace and quiet, spectacular views, and what seemed like an entire ocean at my disposal. Enter a sea kayak.
While digging out a long board to catch some waves on the south side of the island, I came across a sea kayak stowed away in the hull of the boat.
I initially got it out for my partner to use, as she hates getting wet. In an attempt to show her how fun it could be I dived in and paddled off towards the swell.
My words were, “I’ll be back in 5, I’ll just show you how it works.”.
In truth I was back in 5, but where I meant minutes, it became hours.
Catching a wave in a kayak was insane. I’d never known maneuverability like it, I could catch a wave with minimal effort, two strokes of the paddle and I was one with the wave, weaving in and out attempting to find that elusive tube.
When eventually I returned to the boat, the kayak stayed on deck and that long board was thrown back to where it came from, I had my toy for the week and I wasn’t about to let anyone else have a go.
Over the coming days, I surfed and surfed in the kayak doing little else. It wasn’t until mid way through the week, where the surf was hitting the other side of the island that I found another use for the kayak.
I was amazed at the ease at which I could cover distance in the kayak, the currents weren’t so strong that I couldn’t paddle against them, and when I was travelling in the stream it was easier than a knife through butter.
As a marine biologist, I had gotten word that a pod of pilot wales was hitting the coast off Tenerife, near to where we were moored.
I figured taking a frankly giant catamaran over to check them out was a bit over the top, and likely to disturb whatever business they had here.
With the pod forecast to hit just a mile away, I hoped in the kayak and off I went.
Armed with my iPhone and a GoPro, I set off in the kayak, nothing but open ocean in front of me.
The lightweight body of the kayak cut through the distance with ease, and before I knew it I had smashed through the mile and was surrounded by adolescent pilot wales.
I first noticed a fin about 6 feet in front of me, and out came the iPhone and I began snapping.
The silence that you can move in a kayak, even when at speed, had allowed me to drop right into the center of the pod unnoticed.
It was a phenomenal experience, being able to observe an animal I had only ever read about in its natural state was more than I had ever imagined in my wildest fantasies.
The 9 feet of fiberglass beneath me had carried me from fun to dreamland in no time at all, and I will be forever grateful.
Since returning from Tenerife, I’ve had no choice but to buy a kayak. It’s has come from being something I shrugged off as pointless to something I can no longer live without.
I regularly take it on excursions up the river close to my family home, covering miles and miles every weekend. It’s a peace that I never expected to find in the UK, it’s relaxing and the stroking of the paddles as I glide effortlessly through the water has become almost therapeutic to me.
I plan to experience more with a kayak, the more I do, the more doors open up in my mind. White water kayaking has become an aspiration of mine, as well as the distant possibility of taking a kayak along the length of the amazon for charity, albeit a long way off.
Where I highly doubt that I will have another experience like my first week in a kayak, I’m going to give it every opportunity.