Saturday, July 21, 2012

Stormy Bay Crossing

photo credit: Nancy James

6:30 am windblown Fire Island Lighthouse:  100 swimmers, 100 kayakers, plus countless volunteers, friends and family, after preparing for this day for the past year, would have been disappointed but secretly relieved to have the 5 1/4 mile, open water swim cancelled due to high wind, waves, rain, and poor visibility.  The event goes on, under challenging but not ridiculous conditions.



photo credit: Nancy James

That's my back in the foreground, under the PFD and paddling jacket, captured as I arrived on the scene to check in and meet up with T., my swimmer.   Winds stayed moderate at 10-15 kt from the E, and I don't think we ever got the 20 kt gusts that had been predicted.

I would have liked to take a few photos underway, but I can't brace in the chop, keep an eye on my swimmer and snap a photo without dropping my guard on at least one of the first two.  There were some memorable images, however, of sharp-edged, steel grey, low clouds blowing west above the shore of Fire Island behind us, against an otherwise uniformly overcast sky,  causeway bridge in the distance, my swimmer beside me.   Behind my westward gaze  come 2-3 foot waves, rolling in from my starboard beam, usually giving a predictable bobbing rhythm to the paddle, but occasionally converging or breaking in confused regions of rapidly changing depth.  I try to notice the bigger waves coming, but all T. can do is catch the occasional big one in the face while breathing, and keep my yellow form in view by his side as stroke follows stroke.  

T. finished with a pace just under 30 min per mile, remarkably similar to our pace last year under more festive conditions. My congratulations to all the swimmers and paddlers, organizers and safety personnel who participated in this Long Island tradition once again this year.

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