SUP in a Bag's highlights of 2017
A massive thank you to our fellow paddlers for making 2017 such a memorable one.
Enjoying 21 breathtaking launch locations. Micro adventures featuring seal encounters, picnics on secluded beaches, balance challenges, pasties, laughs, messing about in water, reflections, mermaid's purse discoveries, collapsed caves, paddle & pubs, starfish spotting and far reaching views are just a few ways of describing 2017.
Every SUP experience has it's own memorable place, a fascinating conversation, a hilarious moment usually involving a splash, a stunning view or a wildlife encounter, so it's tricky to pick stand out moments, but here's a flavour.
The Start of the Season - Paddle & Pub
Conditions were perfect for testing out the new Paddle & Pub experience with a group of committed paddlers. The Heron Inn to the Pandora Inn for a pint sat on the jetty of Restronguet Creek, what could be better (especially when you spot a Harbour Porpoise en route)?
That sense of achievement sitting back with a view and debriefing on the adventure that you've just shared is one of our favourite things to do.
Mermaid's Purses - a bit of Citizen Science
SUP Safari's were also new for 2017 and on the first trip near Portloe, we were a little disappointed not to spot a seal or a Kestrel that had been nesting in the area, but in the big low tide we enjoyed a picnic sat floating on the boards. While floating enjoying the views of the seaweed one of the paddlers pointed out something. It was a Mermaid's Purses in situ (still attached) with something developing inside.
When we returned we identified them as Nursehound Shark Egg Cases, after reporting them to The Shark Trust we were excited to find that they are one of only a few identified locations around Cornwall.
Since then we've got our eye in and found another site near Maenporth, and found 13 washed up during a #2minutebeachclean of Ralph's Cupboard, Portreath. Over 25 egg cases of around 6 varieties of sharks & rays reported in total this year. www.SharkTrust.org.uk
THAT Seal Encounter with SWAT
Every Seal Encounter and sighting is magical and a privilege, often a reminder that each seal has it's own personality. We reported around 40 seals in 2017 on the River and coastline, through www.ORKS.org.uk
The absolute stand out encounter was with a young seal we named SWAT on the Fal. Named by a young paddler as on first meeting 'he' stalked us, circling around us just under the surface, showing his athleticism. He watched as we took a break and eventually got a little more bold. When he ran his fin down my board and nuzzled it I was a bit concerned I was on an inflatable.
All in the encounter lasted an hour probably because he was rested and well fed as there was a huge shoal of fish in the River.
Learn to SUP in 4 weeks
Proving exceptionally popular, we ran a series of evening and weekday small group sessions. Giving paddlers the SUP Bug and the necessary skills to go out and paddle independently. A reminder of just how accessible the sport is regardless of ability and levels of fitness.
The SUP Club
The Club continues to grow with some members opting to paddle weekly and others on a more adhoc basis. The first session of the year from St Agnes featured caves, clear waters, a beach waterfall and ended with a sunset, bliss.
The evening sessions are always relaxed, enjoying the calm conditions and they seem to revolve around a critique of the best Cheesey Chips in Cornwall. Stand out paddles include a trip to the Pandora Inn with a return paddle in the most glorious 'water on fire' sunset and an August Bank Holiday Mevigissey to Goran Haven adventure with lots of swimming breaks in the most glorious conditions.
Family SUP Fun - the wettest sessions ever
I move between 'how annoying is it that young paddlers can nail the balance challenges and learn the skills so quickly' and having the most fun ever, remembering what it is to really enjoy messing about on the water.
Highlights include taking 3 generations out paddling, amusing the young ones with wtaer pistols or games of dodgeball while the adults get a chance to soak up the atmosphere and watching the children as young as 6 years just suddenly get it controlling the board and enjoying an adventure.
SUP Challenges not just reserved for Children
Love or loath them, it's hard not to laugh at the concentration, anticipation and almost inevitable splash and resultant laughter. The firm favourite of 2017 was jump over the paddle and back, some have managed it in one, the average has been 3.
Watch this space for a video compilation.
The environment and wildlife conservation
Living and working by the ocean it is impossible to ignore the litter, wild life affected by human activity, extreme weather events and a shift in animal behaviours.
Plastic pollution continues to plague the beaches and rivers and SUP in a Bag is part of a community committed to raising awareness of and taking positive actions including regular beach cleans.
We are lucky to have the opportunity to remove rubbish from inaccessible beaches, we undertook over 40 beach cleans this season. Thank you to everyone who helped us.
Like so many others I loved watching the Blue Planet II. Seeing it through the eyes of my twin 6 year olds gave me a renewed commitment to reducing plastic pollution. Happy that plastic is firmly in the public and political domain, how to keep up the inertia and gather more momentum for the war on Global Warming.
Reflections - literally!
On calm days, particularly early morning and in the evening, the reflections are awe inspiring and 2017 has certainly been a stunning year. Winter seems to provide just perfect light, there's that moment when you approach the launch site and you are excited to get on the water.
And finally my new hobby for 2017, Starfish Spotting, once you start to recognise the good locations and tides, and then get your eye in, it's completely absorbing and even addictive. In sheltered conditions in a big low tide the sensation of gliding over the clear still water is a joy for the senses. Around 25 Spiny and 5 Cushion Starfish were spotted in 2017 and snorkel masks are now a compulsory feature.
Looking forward to 2018
There's a running joke in SUP Club, 'how are we going to top this week's paddle?' I feel similarly about last year. The good news is that there is plenty of Cornwall to explore and even on the regular journeys the tides, wind, clouds and people make it completely fresh each journey. So how to create more raving fans of Stand Up Paddleboarding?
We are expanding #SUPLikeaLocal experiences, where visitors and locals alike enjoy some of our favourite past times, secluded beach picnics, sunset paddles, seal spotting and Paddle & Pub.
As well as our established experiences, over the next year we'll be providing SUP Retreats and Camping weekends, there will be a 'Learn to SUP' in a flexible 4 session package and focus on giving intermediate paddlers the knowledge to plan their own adventures.
We love to hear stories of people returning home and starting to paddle regularly. Stay in touch with SUP in a Bag community.