Lundy Island 2nd October 2011

We couldn’t have wished for more perfect weather. As the 11 of us gathered on the harbour side at 10am ready to meet Ian the skipper of Obsession I, the sun was just burning away the last remaining clouds and mist. Obsession I is a Procharter P3, 40 foot long charter boat that works out of Ilfracombe harbour. Skippered by Ian and helped by his son Dominic we couldn’t have been in better hands.

Kit loaded and Ian’s safety talk out of the way the group settled down for the 75 minute boat trip to Lundy Island. The waves were minimal and we couldn’t believe that on the 2nd October we were applying factor 30 suntan lotion.

Obsession I is well decked out with toilet, cooker for those well needed cuppas and a pleasant cabin with space to sit around a table. Posters of whales, dolphins and other wildlife tease you with what you might see if you’re lucky. As Lundy Island came into view, it was such a stunning sight with its ragged rocks and beautiful flora shrouded in morning mist.

Dominic, although only 13 years old, was a wealth of information, as we kitted up, he capably told us all about the seals, what not to do and what to do, as well as facts about the Island. Before we had got in the water the mist had gone and the faces of seals appeared as if watching what we were about to do.

Once in the water, in one of the small bays, we made our way towards the shallow water. Ian had given us clear instructions of the safe areas to snorkel and which rocks to avoid, due to the currents. Snorkelling, in a comfortable 18 degrees of water, in about 3 to 7 metres of water we saw a kelp covered bottom, huge smooth boulders and shoals of whiting and pouting. The visibility was about 2 metres. We were aware that the seals were around us, and faces appeared at about 5m distance away. As the half an hour went on the seals grew in confidence and started to swim closer and underneath us.

After lunch and a quick warm up, we were back in the water. The tide had dropped and many seals were now sunning themselves on the exposed rocks.Very quickly we were joined by a young playful seal which swam in and out, as well as underneath us, only to pop up in between us. Very quickly, the seal had decided we were no threat and our fins were new toys to nudge and nibble. We spent an amazing 20 minutes sharing the sea with this beautiful creature. At one point it wrapped itself around a pair of rather bright yellows fins, one of us was wearing, and lay on the surface on its back still holding the fins.

Time and tide, along with two fighting bull seals in the vicinity, made us reluctantly return to the boat. Ian gave us a short tour around one side of the Island, while Dominic pointed out seal covered rocks and ship wrecks.

The journey home was by no means disappointing. About half the way back, with the sea now like a mirror we spotted a dorsal fin in the water, too large to be a dolphin. As the creature surfaced a few times Ian told us it was a long finned pilot whale. Wow.

If the pilot whale wasn’t enough, our journey back to the harbour, was graced with dolphins and porpoises.

With discussions of arranging another trip for next year we made our way back to Oxford.