Hard to believe but it’s now OCTOBER!!! The fair maiden of summer may have departed but the sun (between the showers) is still shining across our shimmering shores. The big tourist train has slowed to a gentle chug, with a more sedate traveller on board, eager to make the most of this seriously tranquil season.

On our still frequent visits to the calming coast, the sea is debatably ‘kind of warmish’, once you have waded in up to your neck! And the gentle art of paddle boarding is still around, offering a constant source of serene entertainment from a lounger placed beneath a tree. Unlike the intrusive jet skis – those noisy toys of the reckless and riotous as they zoom at dangerous speed, fuelling the rider’s needy, macho egos! ‘Look at me everyone! Look how fast I can go! Listen to the noise I can make! Look at how I can change the peaceful atmosphere of the entire bay with one selfish twist of my throttle!’

In thoughtless situations like this I can easily think of other things to easily throttle! Enter paddle boarding – now that’s simply elegant. It’s a slick sport, silent and seemingly effortless, until you try standing up on one yourself whilst propelling gracefully forward into the sunset like a true ‘Gondolieri’. Paddle boarding is also a growing sport which seems to attract the ladies, who incidentally excel at this aquatic activity. But, like all things which look effortless and danger free, frequent practice is the key to perfect paddling!

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I remember, several years ago, on a holiday to Fiji and the Cook islands, watching the Hobie Cats (small catamarans) skimming the surface of the Pacific Ocean like exotic dragonflies. It looked peaceful. It looked effortless. It was silent. “I can do that!” I said. Watersports were gratis at the beach front hotel, so within minutes, I was strapped into an inflatable vest and taking a crash course of instruction from the Hobie Cat commander – mainly one frighteningly large Fijian nick-named ‘The Body’ who was the size of an American fridge! “… and don’t go too far out,” were the final words I heard as he pushed me aboard the craft into the rolling waves.

The Cook Islands are truly paradise, yet like all tropical destinations are prone to sudden and drastic changes in the weather. Five minutes into my gentle ‘sail’ the wind got up, and my harmonious Hobie Cat suddenly morphed into something resembling a villain’s vehicle from a James Bond movie. Without much warning I was now bouncing and skimming the waves at about 200 mph whilst swiftly heading out to sea.

The rope I was clinging to was the sole method of controlling the sail for both direction and speed. Now what was it The Body said I should do to slow down the Hobie Cat? Apparently, he told me to loosen the tension on the rope. I know this because Other Half was filming the entire escapade on video from the beach, and The Body could be heard quite clearly in ‘play back’, screaming instructions at me and telling me to let go of the rope as I became a small speck on the horizon, heading for Australia. Of course I was too far out to hear anything, yet remembered, from my horse riding days, that if you want your mount to stop, then you pull hard on the reins. However, with a sailing vessel, this action has the opposite effect which thankfully I eventually realized before I completely disappeared from view. I let go of everything.

The sail swung violently around. And had I not at that exact moment ducked to adjust a flip flop, I might have been decapitated! Miraculously, the wind dropped. I remembered my 5 minute training session, gathered the reins, and headed gracefully back to shore. I thought The Body would have been more pleased than he was to see me safely back on shore with the Hobie Cat intact. But no! He was in a dark mood and banned me from any further sailing activity for the rest of the holiday. Pity, I was just getting the hang of it, and almost reached the coral reef! Now where’s that paddle board?