It’s not very often the first day of the year is so conducive to a paddle along the open coast. I didn’t start off in a particularly relaxed fashion however, because the mile or so from Brixham to Berry Head was a bit lumpy in the NW wind, and the cloud cover made the sea look grey and unfriendly.
However around the headland we were sheltered from the wind and the surface smoothed off nicely. I was hopeful for a view of the porpoises so we drifted out with the current along the tideline along which the porpoises hunt. We were pretty pleased when a trio of porpoises puffed and surfaced for a few minutes right in amongst our motley group of four kayaks, especially as this was a kayaking ‘first’ for Suzanne.
As we drifted south on the tide the sun came out and instantly transformed the monochrome grey sea into a vibrant blue. With the warmth of the sun the temperature would have done justice to a day in March, not the first day of January.
We angled in towards a ‘kayak only’ beach for an early lunch, passing little groups of fishing Guillemots and Razorbills.
We tucked in to the coast for a very warm paddle back toward Berry Head.
I was surprised to see some Guillemots already lined up along their nesting ledges and already in their smart breeding plumage, apparently enjoying the spring-like conditions as much as we were.
Strangely, as we rounded Berry Head and knuckled down to flog into the wind and chop, the cloud came over again and the summery colours reverted to wintery gloom.
However our spirits were not to be quashed by the whims of the weather, and we finished off the first trip of 2019 with the sight of a dozen Grey Seals hauled out on the pontoon, which Paul had smelled (!) as we had paddled past.
My search for the calmest waters to paddle usually leads to the shelter of one of the estuaries at this time of year, with the open sea usually battered by windchop or groundswell, or both.
A recent jaunt to the Fowey River from Golant is more typical of this time of year, but demonstrates how paddling along in absolute silence (apart from a bit of merry banter) always seem to deliver some exceptional wildlife sightings. On this occasion it was one of only a handful of Harbour Seals in SW England.