More Offshore Paddling

Still fizzing after my encounter with the whale, I watched the weather charts closely waiting for a forecast slackening of the wind. It’s been a tricky year with very few (if any) prolonged periods of settled weather dominated by high pressure. Just the odd day or two here and there.

As I have already mentioned, the North Cornwall coast has been very poor for sea kayaking in a relaxed manner as is pummelled by wind or swell. The south coast has been the best place by far and fortunately has come up with the goods in terms of wildlife.

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Cruise liner entering Plymouth Sound

I had one more recent paddle out around the Eddystone Lighthouse starting at Cawsand. The Eddystone lies twelve miles beyond Plymouth breakwater and ten miles from Penlee Point which is the last bit of land you pass on the way (the western edge of Plymouth Sound). Although it was pretty calm there were no more whales and surprisingly no dolphins either. Only the ever-reliable porpoises which were exposing more of their bodies than they usually do as they were in a bit of a feeding frenzy.

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Harbour Porpoise
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Porpoise and Eddystone

Nine Balearic Shearwaters and fleeting views of a couple of Storm Petrels. And a couple of ‘marauding ‘ Bonxies that both flew a low circuit over my kayak and checked me out for fleshy morsels. As is usual with Bonxies, no shyness was evident.Totally XXY. The bird world’s Donald Trump.

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Prowling Bonxie

Paddling about in the sea miles offshore doesn’t lend itself to landscape photography unless you have an albatross-style love of expansive sea views.

So a trip along the coast from Looe to Polperro was a bit of a scenic change. Paddling through the middle of Looe is always good fun as it is always busy.

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Looe

And then there’s the ever reliable Fowey with its steep ,sheltered shores providing superb protection from elements of weather that are trying to spoil your day.We had a great day out first visiting Lantic Bay, then back up the estuary (is it called an estuary if it’s a ria?) to the super quaint village of Lerryn up a side creek. With my brother, sister-in-law and paddling prodigy, Jed.

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Foggy Fowey
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Hardcore Fowey Paddling Team

Another half-day of vaguely calm conditions presented itself so I nipped off down to Penzance for a bit of dolphin hunting. I could see dolphins jumping about in the far distance when I pulled up in the car park in Newlyn, probably half-an-hours paddling time away from where I was watching. They were out beyond Penlee point.(the other Penlee Point!).

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Newlyn

I got my stuff together in superquick time and cracked my head on the top of the boot as usual (but a bit harder than usual).

And tore off. No time to warm up those ageing paddling muscles. I was going to be very disappointed if I didn’t catch up with those dolphins. However my experience told me that they don’t hang around in any one place for very long because they are pretty efficient at hoovering up the fish they had found.. And there was only a couple of gannets circling half-heartedly over them so it was hardly a feeding frenzy.

I ‘scorched’ out into the open sea past Mousehole at approx 5 mph. Can’t keep that up for too long.Even though I was in my Cobra Expedition which is relatively quick. Puffing Pig, my inflatable kayak, has a max speed of only 4 mph. Good thing I wasn’t in that (although it’s good for chasing jellyfish).

By sheer luck I just glimpsed the disappearing back of a dolphin heading west parallel to the coast, and adjusted course to follow. Unfortunately cruising dolphins tend to travel at about 5 mph also, so I had to crank it up even more so I just had about half a mile-an-hour on them. There are definite rules about how close you are allowed to approach sea creatures without disturbing them, which I applaud, but in a kayak you generally don’t need to get too close , because they come over to check you out first!dolphin-off-mousehole

And this pair were no exception.My paddling efforts were rewarded when the pair of Common Dolphins swerved over towards me and actually did a very brief bit of bow-riding a few feet in front of my kayak, the first time this has ever happened. They soon decided it wasn’t much help so carried on by themselves, and I stopped for a rest.

I continued directly offshore and had brief encounters with two small parties of three Common Dolphins, before running into a larger school about three miles south of St. Michael’s Mount. I would probably have missed them if I hadn’t seen one jump. Unless the surface is absolutely smooth, which hardly ever happens, dorsal fins easily get lost amongst the wavelets.common-dolphins-off-st-michaels-mount

An excellent prolonged encounter. I followed them at moderate speed for fifteen minutes.A couple of small calves with them and one with a very small fin.When it surfaced beside me I saw it had extensive white scarring on its back behind the fin area.dolphin-with-mangled-fin

Speedboat injury or Great White attack?

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St. Michael’s Mount
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St Michael’ Mount artistic pic

Stopped for a cup of tea in the cafe at St. Michael’s mount. Very nice, but enjoyed using the superb new Dyson Airblades in the Gents more.

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