In my quest for calmish sea I once again had to go to the south coast because once again the North Coast was being bludgeoned by a hefty swell.
Torbay seemed like a good bet and I was lured to Brixham by the carrot of the possibility of seeing the dolphins which are still around intermittently, apparently.
After having a brief chat with fellow kayaker Kieran Laureston, who runs Sea Kayak Torbay in the car park, I paddled out into smooth water under blue sky. Fab.
A couple of miles out I started to see the flicker of what I hoped were fins away on the horizon about a mile away. I cranked up the speed and glimpsed, in the far distance, a dolphin jumping out of the water. I would never have seen if had it not been flat calm.
I eventually caught up with the school a mile off Paignton. Almost unbelievable, I was sitting on completely smooth water with absolutely no current under blue sky with not a breath of wind. I have never seen dolphins under such conditions yet. And on 16th Feb!
The group consisted of about twenty-five individuals, including youngsters. Another pod of about the same number approached from the south, including a large adult which kept belly flopping when it surfaced to breathe. I’m sure this is the same one I saw in the bay just before Christmas, lurching its front half out of the water and dropping back with a bit of a splash. Not in a streamlined way like all of its mates.
This would imply that this is a local school of dolphins which might seem obvious but I thought that Common Dolphins were long distance wanderers and it was their Bottlenose cousins which tended to be more ‘hefted’. Mmmmm.
All fifty then started to move towards Brixham four miles away which was very handy because that was where I was going. A couple more smaller pods were just visible further out. So fifty plus in total.
At a fast cruising speed I accompanied them (or they accompanied me) for almost an hour across the bay. And, amazingly, the sea got even calmer ensuring about the best dolphin ‘experience’ you could ever wish for. Not Australia, not the Maldives or Bahamas, but good old blighty in mid Feb!
The dead calm enhanced the experience with a constant chorus of puffs from the breathing dolphins, and a load of splashing which intensified when they occasionally sped off ‘on the hunt’.
There were quite a few juveniles which stuck like glue to their mother’s side. I presume it’s their mother anyway, but to be PC I suppose I should say ‘parent’.
As I approached the breakwater several dolphins got a bit fired up and came over to bow ride so I piled on the power to give them something to get to grips with. And suddenly they were gone, surging back across the bay.
I finished off with a quick snoop around the end Berry Head, noticing quite a crowd of observers on the clifftop. News of the dolphins obviously travels fast, and right on cue about twenty dolphins swam steadily past.
I arrived back at Brixham just as the wind, as forecast, was picking up from the south.
A day to remember.