An Instructors Story: From the Pool to the Sea

“My love affair with the water began many years ago.”

Experienced instructor and paddle-enthusiast, Bruce Richards, tells us how he was lured into the world of sea kayaking…

“I’ve spent nearly thirty years on the water now and I really can’t imagine my life without sea kayaking, but there was a point in my life when just the thought of touching the water made me sick with fear.”

“My love affair with the water began many years ago. My parents were eager to get me and my younger sister in the water at an early age. Neither of them were strong swimmers and they felt that they’d missed out spending time in the water as young children, so my Father being the industrious fellow that he was built us a DIY swimming pool in our back garden. At the age of 4 I was quite literally thrust in at the deep-end with a float and soon I took to this new hobby.

Soon I was in there every day, enjoying the improvement that I was making and wanting to go further and further. I made progress quickly and began begging my parents to be taken out to the sea to test my skills out on the open seas.

They gave me my wish when I was 8 years old and let me dive into the ocean on a trip to the beach. I saw a rock that I wanted to reach far out in the distance and set off at a fast pace…too fast. Before I knew it my energy was getting sapped by the tidal current and I was struggling for my life.

Luckily there was a lifeguard on hand to help me out. Paddling hard against the tide on a bright yellow sea kayak, a he pulled me from the water. That was the first time I was aboard a sea kayak, but it would be a while before I found myself with an oar in my hand.

I avoided swimming in open water for a while after that. I even stopped using the swimming pool back at home and soon I’d gone months without swimming a single stroke. My parents were a little distraught, I’d transformed from a headstrong confident boy with a promising future in the water to a fearful lad who had to be wrestled into a bathtub on a Sunday night. In a bid to get me back in the water they bought me and my sister our first tandem sea kayak, as well as a couple of buoyancy aids.

In Scotland, on a peaceful lake, there was barely any breeze and the water was as still as you could hope for. Dad gave us a fishing rod and told me to go catch us dinner. I remember feeling a little sick as we both hopped aboard the wobbly kayak. All the the memories of that day came back to me, but my sister held my hand and coaxed me aboard. Nervously paddling out, I busied myself with the rod and before we knew it were far out in the middle of a firth.

When I got a bite and pulled a shining trout from the water, I knew that sea kayaking was something I’d do for the rest of my life.

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