Monday, July 18, 2005

The Seals of Foulness

On the first sail of the season, back in April, I took ‘Bumper’ out of the River Crouch to Foulness Sands where I saw 37 seals basking in the sun. That was a spectacle. Most of them were motionless, but a few twitched their tails or slowly raised their heads; one or two now and again arched their backs; then they lay on one side; all this was accompanied with various bellowing sounds.

Today I took a couple of friends in ‘Bumper’ to the same spot with the purpose of seeing the seals, but in all, there were only half-a-dozen. Nevertheless, my companions were thrilled to see them and used binoculars for close-up views.

I suppose seals move to new locations when the fish they eat change their feeding grounds.

A few years ago, many seals in the north east died with a kind of distemper, similar to the sort dogs can catch. I just hope that has not been the fate of the Foulness seals.

During our visit to the seals we anchored not far from them, but the wind gradually increased in strength as the tide was about to flood, which would make the anchorage uncomfortable, because the current would soon be against the wind; therefore we stayed there for only half-an-hour.

Retrieving the anchor for our return to Burnham was hard work, because the strengthening wind and last of the ebb tried to prevent me hauling in the chain. As the wind was right on the nose for the return leg, in preference to a hard slog to windward I used the engine.

On our arrival at Rice and Cole’s pontoon, my non-sailing visitors said they were pleased with their outing. I too had enjoyed the afternoon and their company.

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