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How To: What is Wind Against Sea?

A regular blog reader (hi Gabriel!) left a comment wherein they mentioned wind against sea. My first reaction was that I knew right then that Gabriel was an experienced open water swimmer. My second reaction was to kick myself for not mentioning wind against sea previously. Wind against sea is a condition that most open water swimmers (who…

The Cave of Light and The Cave of Birds – A film of the pure essence of open water swimming – by Sam Krohn

Sam Krohn is an Australian open water swimmer, resident in the south-east of Ireland since his family moved here when he was young, Sam’s a regular swimmer at my own usual location of Tramore’s Newtown and Guillamenes coves. He’s also a regular reader of and the most regular commenter to this blog. Sam and I kept missing opportunities to go…

A Further Shore – V- The Greensward

Swimming is a lot of things to different people at different times, even to me. But what it isn’t, is a method of travel. We may travel long distances while swimming, we may even be swimming to a destination, but we are not traveling per se.  But somehow, I’d traveled. The buildings stopped before I…

A Further Shore – IV – The Town

Subconsciously, I’d pulled the goggles from my face, feeling the familiar discomfort around my eyes as the suction released. They dangled weightless from my fingers. Above the seafront buildings rose a hill and a town. A road led through the near buildings to disappear into tiered houses that fronted a low hill. I was stunned.…

Golden light through a Copper Coast arch

A Further Shore – II – The Golden Light

I’d swum a double handful of strokes on one breath, and seen so little and yet so much. Only water, rocks, kelp, light? You don’t understand. Time to breath and navigate, I lifted my head. Golden sunlight dazzled me, washed over me. I know it had been months, the previous autumn since I’d last swum…

Burke's Island & reefs, Kilfarassey

A Further Shore – I – The Arch

Winter reduces my range. I swim at the Guillamenes, along the cliffs and shore of Tramore Bay.  Maybe, just maybe, I might get down to Sandycove for a lap. Days pass when I see no-one, arriving, swimming and leaving without a soul. Spring comes with almost imperceptibly warming water and air and increase in the number…

Celtic triskele, symbol of Manannan

The Crowded Oceans: Swimming with Spirits

It is unsurprising that primitive peoples, faced with a world whose range and patterns they couldn’t comprehend or predict, imbued all aspects thereof with a supernatural aspect. Before the development of monotheism, the belief in a single god, often traced to Egyptian Pharoah Akhenaten in the Fourteenth Century B.C., that desire to invest every natural force or occurrence with a…

How To: Using Tide Tables

Because I live and swim in Ireland, I am constantly made aware of the large tidal range here. I’ve written extensively about tides previously because I feel they are an aspect of open water swimming not appreciated by enough swimmers and because global variations can mean that many people never see nor even realise the…

raising_the_avanc_by_pluutozz-d22nnsh on deviantart

Creeped out off the Irish Coast

I got a bit creeped out in the water recently. It’s a rare enough occurrance that I can’t actually remember the last time. When I arrived at the Guillamene, I noticed something, well odd, out in the bay. The wind was light, Force Two, SSW, meaning the side of the bay was fairly flat and…

Lots of thrift.resized

The Copper Coast: a Thrifty shore

Sea Thrift that is, Armaria maritima, also known as sea pinks. Ireland’s Copper Coast has a lot of it, growing all along the coast on the cliff edges, in rock crevices and stony ground where nothing else grows. It’s a perennial which has a high drought and salt tolerance, in fact it seems to do best…

The Perpetual Ocean

A fantastic visualization by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre of the ocean surface currents around the world. The Gulf Stream, the Labrador Current, the Agulhas current, can all be seen (even though they are part of the thermohaline circulation system) and remind one of Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Of particular interest are the localised but…

Grid waves on the French coast

Grid waves

Another of those great images of sea phenomena that I like, cross (or grid) waves, which occur when two sets of waves travelling from different directions cross at an angle of 45° or more. This creates very steep short-crested waves that can be dangerous for shipping. From the European Space Agency. Put some Channel Swimmers out there,…

Eagle island lighthouse-ireland_6787_600x450

Exploring freak waves

We’ve all heard (at least in Ireland) the unfortunate announcements of people losing their lives at the coast due to “freak waves”. Freak waves and rogue waves are the same thing, and are generally not what take unsuspecting people at the coast, since those are more generally set waves, which I’ve written about before, and…

Is the water too cold to swim?

This article is, once again, a variation of the most popular question here: “What temperature of water is too cold to swim in”?, which I’ve written about before. The temperature at the Guillamene last Sunday week (October 16th, 2011) was about 13° Celsius (55° F). That’s far warmer than what most people will imagine, not…