In truth it is not a choice. Just because I have a paddle board does not mean I am any good at staying on it. I get distracted and then find myself swimming.
I am only 50m off Goodrington Beach when I become distracted. Bobbing in the water is a tennis ball. I find tennis balls on the beach almost faster than I can give them away to people I know who have dogs. And thus distracted I have my first swim of the day and it is much warmer than it was yesterday.
Back on the board my eyes wander down the cliff face of Roundham Head, along the line of beach huts, down the steps to the sea. I have found that the trick with paddle boarding is to look where I am going, eyes on the horizon, as soon as my gaze strays down to the water around me and the nose of the board ….. and I am swimming again.
In close up the cliff face at Roundham is very interesting. The red sandstone rocks so common in Torbay were formed in the centre of a desert super-continent. The prominent layers in the cliff are sand filled with an assortment of rock fragments and pebbles of all sizes. This jumble of material was generated when flash floods swept the desert. And right across the cliff is a single layer of sand with no rocks, 1.5m thick and slightly tilted. However, just because it has no rocks does not mean it is uniform and featureless, it is marked with gentle concentric curves, one stack will suddenly be cut by another stack on a different angle, this is cross-bedding, the hallmark signature of sand dunes. As far as I am aware this dune signature is seen nowhere in Torbay more clearly than here and it can only be seen from the sea.
I paddle around the beacon that marks the shallows off Fairy Cove and head back. There is more breeze and the water has become a little rougher, a sure sign that the tidal current has turned, that would be right 2 hours after high tide.
My third swim is entirely voluntary. I slip off the board and give it a shove so that it glides away towards the beach. It won’t go far even with a following wind and that gives me plenty of time to study the scenery.