Creek life

Autumn cruise, post 2

Creek life.

WABI’’’ real time. It’s late September and day 20 of my autumn cruise, 5th day solo and 4th at anchor in Ruan creek….. and sitting out a series of depressions and gales in the shelter of a shallow , muddy and very quiet creek in the west country.

It’s mid morning and i’m just having my mid morning coffee in between writing up the logbook and working on blog posts, and Iv’e just had an unusual encounter and experience . A few minutes ago i felt and heard a soft thump against the boat somewhere near the stern so i went on deck just to make sure that it wasn’t a tree either floating past the boat or bumping along the bottom in the strong ebb. That can be a problem in these steep-banked wooded rivers in the west country after heavy rain, which we are getting, and on big tides….it being only 1 day from springs so it was a likely cause. Trees in fast flowing tidal water are a real problem as they can do a lot of damage to moored boats : last year one got swept across WABI’s mooring in the Tamar and the pressure snapped her mooring strops….luckily she just went for a short solo cruise and parked herself against the bank at the yard….well trained boat you see !

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This morning’s ‘thump’ didn’t feel like a tree, nor did it have the ‘donk’ and then scrape of a branch hitting the boat and running down the side….nor the ‘swish’ that we get in the Tamar when clumps of reed are swept past the waterline. Just as i went on deck to investigate there was another odd sound from just aft of the boat and the untethered rudder kicked across to one side…that sound was more like the sharp exhalation of a dolphin, except softer. Then, just astern a small and curious dog-like face appeared, took a good look at me and then disappeared again. For a few seconds i could see the seal’s grey head and back appearing and disappearing as he swam in the brisk stream just behind the boat….i assume ‘he’ because i think it is the young males that are solitary. It definitely wasn’t the same seal that we saw in the river a few days ago as we motored upstream past the King Harry ferry : that one had managed to beach itself on a mooring buoy and looked as though it had swum under someones propellor….it had clearly taken a few gashes to it’s back.

The presence of seals here would suggest that there are fish in the creek, it’s almost dry at low water so if there are they must be moving in and out with the tide. Iv’e seen the odd splash and ripple of fish rising to feed at the surface but have no idea what they might be here There are clearly small-fry and what i think are sand eels or elvers in the shallow water and IV’E watched the Heron’s and wading seabirds working the mud banks for their dinner. Yesterday when i went for a walk i turned over a couple of oyster shells in the mud and there was plenty of evidence of other discarded shells.

This is a quiet place, right now the immediate sounds are a mixture of wind and tide acting on the boat, wind in the trees and the rumble of the anchor chain moving across the gritty bottom as the boat swings around in the meandering channel. Here, there’s no wifi and almost no phone signal , yesterday the only way i could send my partner a message was to take my phone with me on my second muddy walk and try again from the next bend. The dominant sounds here have all been to do with the bird life…around dawn its noisy when the crows get going in their roost, technically speaking a rookery over on the other side of the creek. Then, later yesterday morning i heard the distinct single high shriek of a buzzard in the trees just a few yards away and i was able to pick out the bird itself….interestingly later a single crow was hassling the same buzzard as it was hunting over the field just to one side of where the crows roost. Right now, over on the far side of the creek i can see and hear the swans….yesterday there was an odd tapping on the side of the boat and when i went to investigate that it was one of a pair of swans obviously trying to get my attention and get some free food !

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