It’s never too late to start.
I vividly remember my first Kayaking experience. I was around 10 – 11 years old and had recently joined a Sea Cadet Unit. The main activities were sailing & rowing, however there was a couple of old (even back then) fibreglass kayaks that you could use while waiting your turn for the other boats.
There was no real instruction, just buoyancy aid on & this is how you hold the paddle. We were given an area of the harbour to stay in & then left to our own devices. There was definitely more swimming than paddling involved & I think I scared myself silly worrying about getting stuck when I capsized, which happened a lot, especially with the wake of passing boats.
I never really took to paddling back then, although over the years I took part in a few canoe and kayak trips on both rivers & lochs.
Wind the clock forward 30 years (oh God!!) and I decided on a career change. I became an outdoor instructor. I was lucky enough to get a position as a trainee at one of the top centres in the country and began a year of intense training in outdoor activities including a crash course in paddle sports. Within 3 months I’d completed my Level One Coach Award and had even had some successful upright river trips. I was starting to develop, if not a love of, an enjoyment in the challenges of paddling.
Over the past couple of years I’ve steadily worked away at my Level Two Coach and finally my Canoe Leader, trying to improve my white water skills (still somewhat intermittent) and generally enjoying my paddling. I’ve had some great D of E expeditions in canoes and a momentous river trip in the Yukon (more about that later).
There have been a few bad days; a broken tooth on the Awe, scary swims at “Tully” and thrown paddles when I get so frustrated that I still can’t get my roll right. The good days far outweigh the bad days though and I’ve been lucky enough to paddle with some amazing paddlers and some great friends.
I think that’s why I finally fell in love with paddling, it’s about those good days out with friends, the memories, the fact that it can be as chilled or as challenging as you want and the people who are so willing to coach, challenge, help and take the mickey.
And yes! It’s “Never Too Late” to start, to learn, to challenge yourself. Obviously the younger you can start the better as with anything but paddling offers something for everyone.
So get paddling