Today, thanks to the lovely Harrow and Wembley Sea Cadet unit, I was repeatedly thrown into a lake. Oh I’m just kidding, I actually had an absolute blast on a fun day arranged for friends and family, as well as cadets, to have a try at different water sporting activities at the Welsh Harp Reservoir. On offer today was rowing, kayaking, sailing, paddle boarding and raft building. Having never done any of these activities, I must admit, I was a huge pansy about it before today, panicking over little things like what to wear whilst sailing. In the end, it really didn’t matter; I was wet, covered in moss and algae, and it was still an amazing experience.
The first activity I tried was sailing. It was fairly quiet on the water today, the wind was barely picking up and only coming in small gusts before disappearing again, leaving our boat to bob along the water for most of the time. Still, when the wind picked up, it was a roaringly fun time, just zipping down the Welsh Harp. I must apologise here to my instructor, who was ever so patient with me despite me not knowing my left from my right and confusing which way to turn the rudder.
My second activity was raft building. Like those team building exercises you’re forced to do as a child (and probably in corporate environments too), there’s always a few people who don’t pull their weight. I was most definitely one of those. Whilst the boys tied all the knots together and picked up the logs to form a rudimentary raft, I held a few ropes. I did get a splinter though which is proof I held at least one log for an amount of time. Seriously though, I was totally useless, being utterly weak and unable to tie knots. At any rate, our raft did work and was floating very well, supporting the weight of seven people with paddles as we tried to push our way across the lake.
Things soon fell apart though. Paddles went flying. People went diving into the water. We had small altercations with the people in kayaks and on paddle boards. Then, of course, it all started to unravel. It started with one side, when one of our barrels came undone, making the whole thing rather lopsided though still reasonably afloat. Most of us stayed on. We tried to paddle away from our suspected traitor, but we just weren’t fast enough and he caught up and managed to untie the rest of the raft. Eventually, we all found ourselves in the water with bits of raft floating about. We were all having a right laugh though, just bobbing up and down in the water holding onto the logs and now upturned barrels.
Then things got a bit serious when the safety boat came over and gave us a tow. We were warned not to venture too far from the beach; though how we were supposed to go too far when our raft was now in tatters was beyond me. Anyway, it was a nice relaxing half-swim back to the shore with a speed boat towing our collection of wood, rope and plastic barrels as well as seven people who all thought it was very funny.
The last activity I tried was stand up paddle boarding. For those not familiar with this activity, as I was before I saw it, it’s basically a windsurfing board without the sail attached. The idea is to stand up on it, balance, and use a paddle to propel you along. As I am somewhat athletically challenged, the idea of balancing on a board in the water was fairly daunting. But once you’re up, it’s actually fairly easy and not too scary. I felt I kept my balance quite well. I did fall in a few times, though largely this was because I had two twin 9 year olds on my tail doing their very best to capsize me all the time. Those cheeky little runts managed to swipe at my legs and knock me into the water at least twice. I also got attacked by the kids in the raft, though they didn’t manage to do anything and were in fact told off. I can’t blame them entirely for my dives into the water; I attempted to put more force into a turn once but misbalanced and slipped right off the back of the board!
Then the day was finished off with a barbeque and a nice sit down in the sun to dry off and a chance to remove my lake-drenched clothes. I really do want to say thank you to the staff who made the day run so smoothly and for being so incredibly patient with all of us complete newcomers to water sports/activities. I’m always sceptical when things are called ‘Fun Days’, after years of being lied to by my teachers (fyi, calling a running event a ‘fun run’ does not make it fun!) but this genuinely lived up to its name. Like I said, I was rather worried before I came but it was all made so easy and pleasant by all the wonderful staff. Overall, a lovely way to spend a sunny summer’s day, which as we know, is a rare opportunity in England.