Penarth to Clevedon 7-7-2022
Swim time: 7hrs 4 minutes 12 seconds
Start: Penarth Slipway
Finish: Clevedon Slipway
Observer: Ros Edmonds
Swim Crew: Sian Jakeman
Pilot: Meuryn Hughes
Ratified by the BCSA.
After last years swims I felt the 'shorter routes' are perfect training swims for the longer ones, so....Penarth to Clevedon, round 2! I had been discussing the swims with Meuryn Hughes who owns a RYA training school in Cardiff for a long time, we had been through the charts several times but up til now it had never come off.
We spoke a few weeks before and Meuryn offered me a couple of tides around neaps, why not I thought! Covid, thats why not!! I managed to catch it and only tested clear five days before the swim. I didnt feel too bad so thought we would still give it a try. As the window came nearer, the morning tide, nice and sensible, daylight swim, was quite windy in the forecast with the wind forecast to drop in the middle of the night on the next tide. I really wanted to swim the early tide As Philip Warren was also out on the same route and we had been chatting for quite a while about his swims! The prospect of flatter water won out and we decided to hit the afternoon tide, in the water for 6.30, swimming into the night...
The swim started reasonably well, the boat was on my left and the tide was sweeping me away from them so they brought it round to my other side and I could feel their heading now pushing me out into the channel away from shore. As we got out it was actually reasonably choppy...but I was swimming well and knew the wind was forecast to drop. First feed they told me I was bang on course for a fast time. As we got out towards the islands and the tide started to turn, the water seemed to flatten slightly, I kind of figured it would be plain sailing now up to Clevedon. Channel had other ideas! The wind picked back up, the chop went really quite spikey and of course the dark was coming! The water turned angry, swirling and twisting, looking at the data later we were stuck for a good while, Meuryn actually told me afterwards the water almost formed a whirlpool at one point, spinning the boat!
A few more feeds and it was black. Pitch black. I could see my flashing light reflecting off the water and the nav lights on the boats but nothing else. It seemed to take an age for the lights of Clevedon to come into view, probably not helped by the waves! Once I did see it in then didnt ever seem to get any closer!! Feed after feed, same. Finally the pier! Once you are inside the pier you know you are home...the only slight problem, it was now 1.30am and I couldnt find the slipway in the darkness!!! Couple of discussions with the boat and a couple of swims up and down the seafront and I finally found it and hauled myself out above the water. Perfect...just no-one around to see me in!
I slipped back out into the water, swam back to the boat and we headed home.
Big thanks to Sian and Ros crewing and Observing and a congratulations to Meuryn, plotting and piloting the swim; certainly a big challlenge for him with his first swim being in rough water in the dark!