The seabed is so pale – wave-rippled sand – just a few feet below us. Dad directs a course across the bay, paddling far out from the beach. The waves are getting quite large, and with each, the aluminium of the canoe shunks as we land, spray spraying from the bow.
Mum shifts nervously. “Is it really safe?”
“Oh, it’s OK.” says Dad, looking serious but calm. He eyes the shore, the headland and the horizon, grips the paddle a little more tightly, and smiles. This is a moment to savour.
Yet bigger waves. From my cross-leggedness on the red cushion, I grip the gunwales and just love. Alice and Lena are there too. We’re like peas in an open pod, the five of us – and a cool box.
It’s shallowing now, and the water’s paler, losing the deeper turquoise and fading to clear. Sunlight refracts and dances on the sinuously rippled sand. We can hear and see the waves hissing onto the beach.
“When we beach, can you just jump out and start to drag us up?” says Dad.
Lena and I ready ourselves.
The metal hull slides and scrapes over the shell sand, and we jump out on either side.