What is a Seabreacher?
If you go down to Victoria Docks in central London, you could well meet the Seabreacher. The Seabreacher is like no other watercraft you’ll ever have seen. It looks like some kind of submarine, it moves in the water like a dolphin, it’s piloted like a plane – and thanks to IntotheBlue, you can ride in one!
In essence, the Seabreacher is a semi-submersible vessel. But what makes it unlike any other boat, is the fact that it can power along he surface of the water and then dive below surface, plunging up to two metres into the water. It can then breach out of the water again, just like a whale, shark or a dolphin can, hence the name.
What is the Seabreacher doing? Breaching out of the water just like a whale – with you inside!
So, how does the Seabreacher work?
Seabreachers are jet-powered like a jetski and are piloted using using hand sticks and pedals. Just like a plane, the pilot controls the pitch, yaw and roll of the craft. The pedals orientate the jet nozzles and the hand sticks move the Seabreacher’s wings.
Moving the pedals (and therefore the water jet nozzles) left and right turns the Seabreacher left or right. Moving the pedals up or down moves those nozzles and the rear elevators up and down, so go nose down to dive, or go nose up when coming out of a dive.
Using the hand sticks controls the wings, holding them in as you dive under the water. Thanks to the Seabreacher’s snorkel, they can stay in the watery underworld for up to a minute at a time and travel at speeds of up to 40mph. On the surface you can skim along at around 60mph!
Can the Seabreacher do tricks?
Yes! Controlling the Seabreacher on three axes means you can indeed do tricks! What moves might you be busting in a Seabreacher? You could be barrel rolling, flipping and doing doughnuts too. The clever cylindrical shape of the Seabreacher (which does have more than a passing resemblance to sharks, whales and dolphins) means the boat is self-righting too, which is convenient!
What’s a passenger ride in a Seabreacher like? Pretty gnarly actually!
What is it like for a passenger inside a Seabreacher?
The Seabreachers have fully enclosed cockpits, with a glass cover made out of F16 jet fighter-grade glass. They are two-seaters tandems, so you sit behind the pilot. It’s pretty snug in there, so you’ll need to be less than 110kg and under 198cm to be able to ride in one. It can get quite warm in there too, so loose comfortable clothing and layering is recommended.
So no wet suit then?
No! The Seabreacher is a full water tight vessel, even when you’re diving in and out of the water like a dolphin, which is what makes it so amazing and unique.
Spot the whale-like Seabreacher in the London waters!
Will I get sea-sick riding in a Seabreacher?
On a full-on extreme acrobatic Seabreacher experience you’ll be experiencing g-forces in a similar way to a stunt plane. Pilots will gear rides to each passenger and the level of manoeuvres will be adjusted accordingly. But it’s worth noting, it’s best not to eat a large meal within two hours of your experience!
What does a Seabreacher ride feel like?
It’s tricky to explain just how it feels as a passenger inside the cockpit of a Seabreacher as you skim along the surface as speed, to then dive in and under, creating a wake as you go, to then breach out of the water, roll in the air and splash back down.
So, have a watch of this video to give you an idea of what a Seabreacher is like.
Pretty awesome eh?
OK, you’ve got me. Where can I do this in the UK?
There’s only one place in the whole of the country that offers Seabreacher rides and it’s a Victoria Docks in London. The company that operates the rides is also the UK distributor for these crazy Seabreachers. A 20-minute weekday Seabreacher blast costs just £99, with longer ride options available on weekdays and weekends too.
Pics courtesy of Predator Adventures
If you’re planning on fishing on public waters in the UK, you will need a licence to fish.
But before you head off to your local fishing tackle shop and a drop several hundred pounds on all the gear, it’s not just the fishing licence you need, there are a fair few rules and regulations you need to be aware of when you fish.
The background to fishing in the UK
Did you know that angling is Britain’s most popular pastime? According to the Our Nation’s Fisheries report first released in 2004, over 4million of us have been fishing at least once in the past two years. And the Environment Agency, which commissioned the report into angling, has seen a 35% rise in the number of fishing licences bought over the last decade.
Apparently there’s nothing we Brits like more than choosing a peaceful beat along a gently flowing river to cast off…and wait. The seemingly endless hours just sitting there waiting for a bite are all part of the fun and relaxation of angling.
What a catch! Nothing beats a spot of freshwater fishing – but you need a licence to fish
Where to fish in the UK
Put simply, there are three ways to go fishing in the UK. You can fish on public waters, go to privately owned waters, or fish on the sea – and needing a licence depends on what you fish and where.
The Environment Agency oversees fishing on enclosed still waters such as reservoirs, lakes, ponds and canals and also open waters of rivers, streams, drains or waterways (that aren’t canals) and anglers all have to abide with their rules.
Of course, if you are intending on fishing on private land, such as a fishing club or private estate, you must have permission from the land owner to fish there and abide by any rules they may have.
Sea fishing is (excuse the pun) a whole different kettle of fish, being overseen by the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy and British Sea Fishing has all the information on that. There are even companies such as our deep sea fishing friends based at Brighton Marina, who specialise in taking novice fishermen and women out on proper sea-faring boats to do a bit of fishing on the open seas.
Sea fishing on the open seas in the UK is a whole different kettle of fish…
But for this article, we’re concentrating on fishing overseen by the Environment Agency.
The rules of freshwater fishing:
The licence to fish
First and foremost, you will need that licence to fish on public water. As we mentioned, the Environment Agency is responsible for handing out rod fishing licences. If you’re under 12 years old you don’t need one. All 12-16 year olds need a licence, but it’s free. After that, you can apply online for your fishing licence for one day, eight days or a whole year. You can buy a trout, coarse fish and eel licence only, or a full licence including salmon and sea trout for around £82 for 12 months.
What the licence covers you for varies according to what you’re hoping to fish and where, with anything from one to three rods covered by the one licence. More details can be found on the British Government’s fishing licence information page.
When to fish the waters
Now you’ve got your licence sorted, you just need to know when you can fish. And if you thought rod licensing, the number of rods and how far apart rods can be placed apart (it’s 3m, if you were wondering) was complicated, just wait until you try and understand when you can fish…
In essence, there are national, regional and local bylaws that govern when you can fish. The main national bylaw is concerning the closed season. Between 15th March and 15th June every year, coarse fishing (i.e. for carp, tench. rudd, perch, chub, bream etc) is banned on all rivers, streams and non-canal waterways, but coarse fishing rainbow trout and brown trout on enclosed still waters and canals all year is OK. Even salmon and trout game fishing during the close season is allowed, but you will only be able to use certain lures and baits according to where you are.
As well as licence, you need to know what flies and lures are allowed when & where
Regional fishing bylaws
Rules according to whereabouts in the country you are fishing is where regional bylaws come in to force. It’s always best to check the UK Government Local Fishing Bylaws for the area you’re planning to fish before you go. For example, if you’re going to fish on the River Trent in the Midlands, there’s no salmon fishing between the 8th October and 31 January each year as it’s breeding season.
These regional rules will also tell you what sorts of baits, weights and lures are acceptable and when, with information on everything from the use of live or dead crayfish as bait, to artificial or natural flies being used, as well as the sort of landing nets you can use.
And look out for local fishing rules too
On a local level, anglers need to look out for things like warning panels along parts of rivers where there are overhead power cables, that mean fishing along that particular stretch is banned. There may also be restrictions if there is an outbreak of algae on a certain lakes and so on.
What happens when you land that catch?
What happens when you reel in that fish?
So now you’ve got your licence, you’ve checked when you can fish where, you’re ready to go and pitch up and get casting those lines. Peace and quiet, with just the sound of the moor hens quacking and the cheery birdsong in the overhanging trees, all is relaxing…until you get a bite.
If you do actually land a catch, there are strict rules on what you can keep and which fish you must release back into he waters straight away. If you were thinking of going fishing for your supper on public waterways you can do, but it is highly controlled. Again, it depends where and what you fish, but the general daily limit on rivers, for example, is:
1 x pike up to 65cm (all measurements are from the tip of the nose to the fork of the tail)
2 x grayling 30-38cm
15 x small fish up to 20cm (such as chub, carp, crucian carp etc)
All eels (except conger) must be released. You are allowed to fish as many ’tiddlers’ (such a gudgeon) as you like and, interestingly, you can also fish without limits for non-native species and even ornamental species (koi carp anyone?).
And as well as the daily limits, everyone with a fishing licence needs to complete an annual ‘catch return’ detailing what they caught when, so fish stocks can be monitored in the UK.
On the river beat fishing for supper – but what does your licence entitle you to take?
Them’s the rules – or risk a fishing fine!
It’s worth noting here that if you were thinking of turning your fishing exploits on public waters into a nifty little sideline, the selling of and rod and line caught salmon or trout is prohibited and risks a fine of up to £50,000. And indeed, you can be prosecuted and fined for flaunting any of the freshwater fishing laws in the UK. Fishing without a licence could cost you up to £2,500 per rod!
Up to date info for anglers
A good source of information for anglers on fishing weather conditions and what’s good to fish where, is the Angling Trust’s Fishing Info website. And a great read for all the background information on fishing (including what types of fish you can expect in your net) can be found on the Canal River Trust website, which has a very comprehensive section on all things angling.
Getting yourself started as an angler
If you were thinking of going rod and line fishing, but reading through all these rules and regulations has put you off, there is a very simple way to get fishing in total tranquility. If you book a fishing lesson with an expert angler there are loads of advantages.
- You get all the tuition you need
- All equipment is provided (including a boat if on a lake), so you can try before you buy
- They can teach you all about flies, lures, rods and lines
- Any permits needed are sorted for you
- Lessons often take place at clubs on private land wth well-stocked and managed waters
- They know know the best places to fish
- And they know all the rules!
Spending time with an expert angler will help you decide whether fishing is the hobby for you and it’s a gentle introduction to all the Environment Agency rules and regulations. And remember they say, a bad day of fishing is still better than a good day at the office!
Got the licence? Gone fishing….
Can you go whale watching in the UK? Yes you can! Forget going all the way to Florida to see whales in captivity doing tricks, this is all about seeing whales (and plenty of other marine life) in the seas. And it’s all happening around the incredibly scenic and wildlife-rich coastline of Scotland.
Here’s our guide to what you can see where in the UK when it comes whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals and a whole lot more.
A topography that’s just perfect for marine wildlife – including whales
Scotland boasts 29 different species of marine mammals (the most for any area in the UK), from the harbour porpoise and common seal, to the migrating humpback whales and minke whales. Scotland’s highly-indented coastline on the west and north is littered with sheltered water sea lochs created by the glaciers in the ice age and there are over 800 islands of the mainland.
In these western and northern parts of Scotland, you can go whale watching in several locations. It’s also the area that is on the edge of the European Continental Shelf. You have to be a clever geologist to understand all this, but the Scottish National Heritage website explains the seas and coast well, as does this handy graphic, which shows you what the shelf looks like.
This is how the continental shelf looks on around the Scottish coastline
And just think, beyond this relatively shallow water shelf around the coast of between 15 and 70 metres, the open ocean is over 2000m in parts!
In essence this all means that around the Inner and Outer Hebrides, the warm and cold waters of the Atlantic and the north meet, creating the North West Approaches, a habitat rich in both resident and visiting birds and mammals.
So that’s why the west coast of Scotland is the best place in the UK for whale watching. Now you’ll be itching to know what sort of species you can see and where.
Let’s start with the big-hitters – the whales.
Whale spotting – the best places to see them in the UK
In Scotland when you talk about whale watching, it’s most likely going to be Minke Whales you’ll be spotting. They’re around usually from May onwards, but in particular after mid-Summer. The stretch of water called the Minches between the mainland and the islands of Tiree, Coll and Mull are the Minke whale spotting hotspots. From Stornaway, the main town on Mull, you can book a specific whale watching tour with one of several operators. Or even if you take the scheduled Ullapool to Stornaway ferry service, make sure you’re on deck as you can often spot Minkes as you get close to the ferry port on Mull.
South of Oban, you’ll find the Gulf of Corryveckan, between the Jura and Scarba Islands. The particularly strong Atlantic currents and a rather unusual topography here creates swirling waters that are, in fact, the third largest whirlpool in the world. It’s a haven for Minkes as well as Porpoises, who swim in the fast-moving water. There are no regular ferry boat services around these parts, but there are sea safaris that go from the Isle of Seil to visit this very rugged corner of the coast.
Minke Whales in Scotland – these are the ones you’re most likely to see
Humpback Whales in the UK
Nothing beats watching a 17m-long Humpback Whale breaching (where they leap out of the water) to then dive back in, with that distinctive tail going in last. These magnificent creatures (along with occasionally-sighted Long-finned Pilot Whales, Sperm Wales and Basking Sharks) aren’t resident around these shores, but they do migrate from the warmer waters of the African tropics where they breed, to the colder waters of the polar regions where they feed. And to get there, they pass by those famed North West Approaches around the Hebrides.
You’ll be pretty lucky to see a Humpback Whale in the UK, but if you do it’s an unforgettable sight. Websites like the Whale & Dolphin Trust list recent sightings of all marine mammals according to the area of the UK and the Sea Watch Foundation has loads of information for whale watchers too.
They might ‘just passing’, but if you see a Humpback Whale breaching out of the water, you’re a very lucky whale watcher in the UK!
Everyone’s favourites – the dolphins
Dolphins are expert swimmers and their playful nature means they love to bow-ride, that’s to say swimming alongside at the prow of a boat, which offers a superb natural spectacle for anyone lucky enough to be in said boat! Dolphins can be spotted at various locations in the UK, but there are very healthy numbers in Scotland.
Dolphins can be spotted not only amongst the whales on the western coast, with the waters around Skye, Coll, Tiree and Mull being favoured by the common dolphin. The Bottlenose Dolphins are particularly proliferous on the east of Scotland in the Moray Firth and the Firth of Forth. There are both resident groups and dolphins who come to visit from the open ocean. Canonry Point is a focal point for dolphin watching in the UK, with dolphins visible from land. Boat trips to see dolphins leave from Cromarty, Avoch and Nairn on either side of the Moray Firth, not far from Inverness.
What could be more magical than having a smiley-faced dolphin swimming alongside your boat?
Seeing super cute seals in the UK
Seals can be seen at locations all over the UK, but once again Scotland tops the leader board when it comes to numbers and indeed, they say it’s the best place in the world to see Atlantic Grey Seals. They have pups in October and November time and often retreat to breeding colonies on the wild uninhabited west coast islands to have their young. But out of the breeding period, you’ll should be to quite easily see them, especially when they are in what marine biologists call ‘loafing’ mode, when they basically sunbathe own rocky promontories.
As for where you can see the Grey Seals, it’s the same as Minkes and the Dolphins, with the areas from Skye to the Jura being prime seal spotting locations.
Say hello to Mr Loafing Seal – just hanging around on the dock of the bay!
Last but not least, the Harbour Porpoise
At just over one metre long, the Harbour Porpoise is much smaller than its dolphin cousins. They love shallower water and can often be seen swimming near harbour walls (hence the name!). They are commonplace in Scotland from the Shetlands to the Borders, as well as other places in the UK. They have to watch out though, as these little mammals have plenty of predators out there in the seas – including, would you believe, the Bottlenose Dolphins.
Swimming porpoise – Oban Seafari
Can you go whale watching in the UK - and see nothing?
Whether you see that Minke Whale is all down to Mother Nature – and patience. You’ll increase your chances by booking onto an organised boat trip, as the skippers are experienced experts in finding the best spots where you’re likely to see whales and other species.
If you do fancy a sea expedition, do make sure you check the operator is WiSE accredited. If they are listed on the WiSE website, it means they are Wildlife Safe approved, respecting the wildlife disturbance limits and operating safe and sustainable trips.
Now you know where you can go whale watching in the UK, the Welcome to Scotland website is a great place to start planning your whale watching trip to Scotland, allowing you to explore each of the Scottish regions in turn.
Can you go whale watching in the UK? Yes you can – you just need patience and good luck!