A Stand Up Paddle Paddle Season in Stats
99 adventures, 485 miles, 20 different launch sites, spotted 15 dolphins and 42 seals, 14 horse fly bites, 1 magazine feature, 102 packets of biscuits (shared), used 470 ml of sun cream and ate 68 pasties.
2018 has been full of adventure, stunning views and wildlife encounters, shared with some wonderful, fun loving and interesting fellow paddlers. Who would have thought when I was paddling past icicles on the cliffs during the Beast of the East, that there would be so much sunshine in the summer?
The van limped into 2019, I waved to so many more passing SUPers than previous years and there were some stand out moments. The best thing has been sharing my love of exploring Cornwall by SUP. Here is a flavour of the year.
Breathtaking is a word sometimes over used, but with scenes looking more like the Mauritius than the UK, the consistent, settled, warm period provided truly astounding paddles. Everyday life in much of the country became uncomfortable, but in Cornwall the light winds and air conditioning provided by the sea, kept the temperature a little cooler.
One stand out paddle, featured in the video above was in the clearest of waters paddling from St Agnes to Cligga for a picnic on a sand spur. A rare treat to be able to access this wild section of the north coast.
SUP safaris were popular with experienced paddlers, and this year felt a little different to previous years. My favourite starfish spotting site near Mevigissey produced no sightings and there were also reduced seal sightings in that area.
Low tides continued to provide a window into the underwater world, I’ve started calling it extreme rock pooling or SUP rocks. We saw urchins, and Spider crabs seemed to be in abundance early in the season.
We have enjoyed over 40 seal encounters many of them with young seals. Lots of the sightings were on the River Fal. The River seemed alive with fish this year, from young bass to Mackeral ‘boiling’ the water. One seal surprised us exhibiting amazing agility mounting a mooring buoy settling on as it span.
To be close to dolphins is such a thrill and quite emotional. When you realise that they are rare visitors - Risso dolphins with a calf, it is the experience of a lifetime.
During another stand out paddle on the Roseland, we spotted 4 seals, a barrel Jelly Fish and saw a Razorbill dive between us watching it swim 20 ft below us like something out of Blue Planet, leaving us speechless. Feeling pretty lucky.
Worse things happen at sea
A few funny and not so funny things happened in 2018. The forecasts were not always that reliable, meaning that a couple of paddles were moved last minute when there were breaking waves in a usually sheltered spot.
I have no one to blame but myself when I mis-read a tide chart and arrived at a location 2 hours before the water - ‘dry as a bone.’ Thank goodness for lovely understanding paddlers and the rescue that a beautiful sunset provided. Then on to the Pandora. I normally laugh if I ever fall in accidentally, but it was also on this trip, while kicking off a flip flop I ‘inspected the fins’ next to the busy pub pontoon. With a resigned expletive, a significant splash and a lot of laughter, thank goodness it was dark.
This has led me to name Restronguet Creek my nemesis. Luckily my love of a Paddle & Pub, pint and cheesey chips wins through.
Night paddles are new in 2018. After a sunset or a Pub visit they are a real treat for the senses, as conditions calm and the moon reflects on the water. So far they have been on the river, I’ll be looking at moonlit coastal paddles this coming season.
Thank you to everyone who sent me photos of our adventures, many are included on the website and feature on social media. Special thanks to Aaron Gregory who took some remarkable drone footage on two trips out on the Roseland. Sue, Dan, Emma & Lucy also tooks some stunning shots.
Awareness of plastic pollution is growing, but the levels of ocean litter and it’s impact on wildlife remains shocking. On a recent paddle from Truro, Saturday night’s polystyrene take away containers had been pecked by seagulls and were travelling out to sea when we picked them up.
The most surprising sight was when I spotted a nappy bag, I manoeuvred to pick it up. Yes that’s a fish inside it! Luckily it was unharmed.
Every time I see a seal, I am reminded of the need renew and refocus efforts. I am so pleased that so many paddlers share my passion for wildlife and are so happy to litter pick along the way.
For many people standing on a paddle board and eventually relaxing enough to stop their toes gripping the board is enough of an achievement. For others the gauntlet of a challenge is enough to peak their focus. SUP Challenges have gone to a whole new level in 2018, with some paddlers demonstrating some impressive skills. 2017 was all about jumping over the paddle, but this year has been all about headstands. A very talented teen has set the bar a even higher by introducing cartwheels.
SUP is a great leveler in families with everyone enjoying a paddle in their own way. There have been a few occasions in 2018 when 3 generations have enjoyed a SUP and I am thrilled to help to make this happen.
I am always astounded by the ability of young children to pick up the sport. A few basic instructions on swapping sides and swapping hands and where to stand and they are off, (as long as you can keep them on the board!). Family Sessions are a reminder of what fun is all about. Here’s one of my monkeys.
Santa Charity SUP
The SUP Club continues to thrive, paddling weekly. This year we held our first Santa SUP. We were followed by an entourage of supporters and paddled from Mylor Harbour to the Pandora laughing as we went. At the Pandora Inn a stunning rainbow seemed to frame our fun.
I would like to wish the SUP_300 good luck in their endeavour to paddle 300 Km raising funds and awareness of DiGeorge Syndrome.
What does the next year have in store?
My expectations are high, I’m expecting at least 10 weeks of uninterrupted sunshine (or not). I’m developing Eco SUP experiences to include beach cleans and wildlife surveys, putting two of my passions together. There will also be multi-day guided adventures, feeling a bit like a skiing holiday.
SUP in a Bag is only possible (and so enjoyable), because of the enthusiastic support I receive, a MASSIVE thank you to everyone who has been part of the adventure so far.
See you on the water in 2019