I WAS delighted to head down to the water for the first Penarth Quays Marina open day recently. The event - called ‘On the Water’ - was part of the British Marine Federation's campaign to get more people into watersports, and was held during National Watersports month.

Rather than the former image as the preserve of the rich and famous and Howards' Way characters, more and more people are getting involved in water-based activities thanks to a range of community organisations, facilities and opportunities locally. As someone who personally built a lot of confidence as a kid learning to swim, sail, kayak and surf, I can thoroughly recommend getting out on the water.

Particularly impressive to see was the 72ft former round-the-world yacht Challenge Wales, which now runs as a charity whose main aim is to help young people aged 12 to 25 develop social and personal skills through sail training.

I was delighted to be shown around the yacht, and to learn about the fantastic work Challenge Wales volunteers are doing with young people who would not normally have the opportunity to sail, but who can - through crewing the yacht on voyages ranging from one day to several weeks – broaden their horizons in a truly unique way.

I would encourage Penarth Times readers who don’t know too much about the charity to look them up (www.challengewales.org).

It was also good to see the local Sea Cadets involved in the open day, by rowing guests around the marina; and visitors could try paddle boarding and sit-on kayaking, thanks to Cardiff International White Water centre and Pura Vida Penarth. I had the chance to get out on the water in a kayak, which brought back some memories!

There were onshore events, including marine engineering demonstrations, and it was great to meet the RNLI volunteers who were on hand to offer Sea Safety advice to boat owners and visitors. There was also a chance afterwards for people to enjoy the new Compass Cafe, which is a great new stop for walkers, bikers and boaters through the marina.

Here in Penarth and Cardiff, we are lucky to have a fantastic range of watersports opportunities right on our doorstep, and the open day at the Marina was a great way of showcasing that as part of a really enjoyable community day.

Congratulations to Marina manager Stuart Jones for organising the event – which I hope will become an annual fixture in the Penarth calendar.