Following a total knee replacement at the beginning of the year, and all the inactivity and slobbing about thereafter, it was imperative I got back onto the water as soon as possible. Paddling a kayak is the perfect antidote to chocolate hobnobs and daytime TV. And if you get a move on you can be back in time for ‘Pointless’ anyway.
It probably isn’t the best from of exercise to bulk up the leg muscles following knee surgery, in fact huge amounts of time sitting in a boat with ‘vestigial’ legs (as my chum described them) probably contributed to the problem in the first place.
But what the heck. It’s good for the soul.
I started off with flat water. Bude canal and Roadford Lake. Superb. As the Spring got going the surrounding bushes and trees were a cacophony of birdsong.
As the sea settled down after winter we cherry-picked sheltered sections of the Southwest coast to explore during daytrips.
Charmouth, Lyme Regis and the Jurassic coast.
The only problem with the south coast is the easy access and flat water which encourages the scum of the seas. To which of these blubber -laden sea creatures do you think I refer?…
Dave and I spent a tremendous sunny day around Gerrans and Veryan Bay in South Cornwall, featuring my first cetacean encounter of the year…..a very small porpoise, and a fantastic aerobatic display by a cornish Chough including a gravity defying g-force loop, with its legs on the OUTSIDE of the circle. Reminiscent of the Eurofighter at Dawlish air display.
And when eventually the swell abated on the ragged North Cornwall coast, making it accessible for kayaking for about the first time in six months, we wasted no time in a tour along the Hartland Heritage Coast.
The reefs here must be respected as highlighted in the cheerful proverb/shanty/sonnet:
“From Hartland Quay to Padstow Light,
‘Tis a watery grave by day or night”
Plenty of evidence of this at low tide:
As the sea began to warm up and the sandy bays echoed to the grating calls of migrating Sandwich terns, I thought it was time to concentrate on a bit of dolphin spotting.
My paddling fitness had returned which made me a bit more confident about doing some offshore paddling.
However this was not necessary for my first dolphin encounter of the year….a pod of Risso’s dolphins which I picked up right outside the entrance to Newlyn harbour and followed for a mile to Penlee point. Like Bottlenose Dolphins they cruise along at 5mph so take a bit of keeping up with. A superb encounter, my best views yet of Risso’s dolphins. They showed their typical colour variation: one almost white, one almost black and one pale grey with a characteristics pattern of scars on its dorsal fin that would allow individual identification (which I am following up).
The scarred dolphin did a respectful little jump right beneath the slipway of the old Penlee lifeboat, used for the last time in December 1981 when the lifeboat, and the entire crew, were lost while carrying out a rescue.
My second dolphin encounter of the season was a distant view of a fast moving pod of Bottlenose dolphins at Pentewan beach, Mevagissey. No photos, too far away. The only other notable ingot of wildlife on that day was a Great-Northern Diver dressed up in its spectacular breeding plumage. Most have departed for the far north by the time they have changed into their smart clothes, but this year for some reason many have been slow to depart. In fact I saw one still lingering on 18 June.
To complete my dolphin species hat-trick I had to make a bit more of an effort. Common dolphins usually keep further offshore so I thought a jaunt out to the Eddystone Lighthouse, ten miles beyond Plymouth breakwater, should do the job. I wasn’t disappointed. On the way back I found myself amonst a group of about a dozen Common dolphins which surged all around for a couple of minutes.
Throw a few porpoises, a Sunfish and a dozen Puffins into the mix and it was worth the strain.
With the reported sightings of several Minke whales in the west of Cornwall, plus a handful of Humpbacks and the amazing record of a Bowhead whale loafing about only just off the beach at Penzance, a whale encounter from my kayak has got to be my next big wildlife goal. In the UK of course. OK it’s not going to happen. But it just might.
This particular wordpress blog has now run out of space to download photos. And as I seem to have ‘gone off ‘ the fishing side of things for the time being, in favour of touring and wildlife encounters, I will write future Blogs on my other site ukseakayakingandwildlifeencounters.wordpress.com. Follow my adventures there.