Image credit: Dive Newquay
Read three perspectives on the sensory power of the sea, from deep sea diver to experienced mariner to wild swimmer…
Throughout time and place, the sea has had a powerful effect on humans. Its dazzling forms and mysterious depths have seeped into culture, enchanting, thrilling and calming at once.
Whether the crash of the waves on the beach or the glow of the red sun rising over a rippling cove, it’s impossible not to feel the effects of the water.
Jack Carter from Boscastle sought out solace in the sea during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic when his first child was born. He opened his own marine touring business to combine his love for both boats and the Cornish coast. Despite these potentially stressful demands, he said “I just can’t seem to be stressed when I’m working at sea every day. For me, it’s the environment I relate to best; I’m in my element.”
“So here, there’s the Irish Sea, the Atlantic and the English Channel, creating some of the world’s biggest tides ripping through the area, along with crazy currents and tidal waves.”
Jack has spent 15 years at sea and some of his favourite moments are witnessing storms, describing feeling both humbled and charged by the water’s immense energy and power. Experiencing the emotions the sea can inspire was behind Jack’s decision to set up Coast Boat Trips.
Image credit: Coast Boat Trips
“We do the tours between Lands End and Cape Cornwall; it’s a really unique area of coastline. The word ‘cape’ literally means where multiple water bodies collide. So here, there’s the Irish Sea, the Atlantic and the English Channel, creating some of the world’s biggest tides ripping through the area, along with crazy currents and tidal waves. The area is just so dynamic.”
“And when you’re out on the boat you can also see the cliffs from another angle and they’re dramatic and incredible in themselves. It’s where an immovable object meets an unstoppable force.”
From thrills above the water to the mystery below, Joe Gurney has been working as a scuba dive instructor at Dive Newquay for the last eight years. He describes the sensation of diving as “weirdly feeling as if you’re flying down there.”
“If you get a clear day, with the sun coming in right, the water is turquoise blue and everything is illuminated on the coral, it’s just amazing.”
While beginners dive to 10m, Joe recently went to 65m in his deepest dive yet. He was aiming to explore one of Cornwall’s 3000 shipwrecks, a ship that sank to the seafloor in 1888 after crashing into the headland near Fistral beach in Newquay.
Image credit: Dive Newquay
“Shipwrecks are kind of mysterious, especially if there’s lots of plankton it can be pitch black. But it’s like a whole different world and there’s so much marine life sheltering in the wreck, as well as different types of coral that you just wouldn’t see in shallower waters.
“The UK is pretty underrated I think. If you get a clear day, with the sun coming in right, the water is turquoise blue and everything is illuminated on the coral, it’s just amazing. I’ve also had dolphins doing somersaults in front of me and an inquisitive seal nibble my flipper.”
The effects of exploring the depths are clearly visible for those who try it. “Everyone who comes up from their first dive is beaming from ear to ear,” says Joe.
“it’s my playground, where I go to connect with my inner child, whether that’s snorkeling, seeing different animals or splashing around with friends.”
Lydia Paleschi believes cold water has a healing effect. A founder of Wild Swimming Cornwall and author of ‘A Guide to Wild Swimming in Cornwall’, she swims without a wetsuit all year round, come rain or shine. She said: “The sea has always been a backdrop for me growing up, but it wasn’t until I left Cornwall that I realised how special it is and really started to crave it. When I went through a rough patch with my mental health, I found coming home and going swimming really, really helped.”
Image credit: Wild Swimming Cornwall
Lydia describes being in the sea as a type of therapy that brings many other feelings, from creative inspiration to the feeling of being part of a community. She explains how cold water swimming has a physiological reset effect, as blood rushes from the brain to warm the core.
“I love to sea swim after a run because of the explosion that happens on your skin with all your nerve endings being activated. Each time you go in, you build your confidence and feel proud of yourself; I call it my arena for confidence building.
“But, at the same time, it’s my playground, where I go to connect with my inner child, whether that’s snorkeling, seeing different animals or splashing around with friends.”
Like a reflection, the sea can be something different to everyone. Whether you’re after a new thrill, a sensory overload or a peaceful escape, there is something for you in the sea’s wonderful expanse of possibility.