My first attempt at Isle of Wight kayaking was moderately successful, with only a little nausea ruining an otherwise enjoyable trip into some smugglers' caves.
The second attempt had all the potential to be a complete disaster, considering that we were trying out an inflatable kayak for the first time, after an impulse purchase on Amazon a few weeks ago.
During our enthusiastic pumping on the beach at St Helen's we had gathered a small crowd of well-wishers, or perhaps spectators akin to those who go to motor racing to see crashes. Actually, I think they had made a similar impulse purchase in a sale and were keen for us to be the guinea pigs before they set sail themselves.
We soon discovered that the main risk at St Helen's is not so much going out of your depth and requiring a coastguard, but hitting a rock or a sandbank in the shallow waters. As we made our way round towards Priory Bay I dutifully took on the role of checking that we weren't about to puncture our rubbery hull, whilst my shipmate did the paddling.
With careful negotiation and much puffing we reached Priory Bay, one of my favourite beaches where we sat and took in the glory of our completed journey.
Our initial cheerleading team, who had watched the adventure unfold had walked round the headland to check we didn't drown and gave us a hearty wave on seeing our safe arrival.
"Have you come far?" asked another nosey onlooker (this is the Isle of Wight, after all, where talking to strangers on beaches is perfectly normal).
"St Helen's" we said, pointing to a spot about 100 metres away from our landing point.
The onlookers seemed to find that most amusing and could be heard chortling and guffawing for some time as they wandered away from us down the beach.
And so we returned to St. Helens, without having to call the coastguard once.
The only downside of course is deflating a wet kayak and getting it back inside the car, which I've got to admit was not all that pleasant.
Nonetheless, I'd call that a success and thanks to the tamer waters in the East Wight, I was even up to eating fish and chips in Seaview a few minutes later.
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