Tag Archives: Waterford coast

Locations along the County Waterford coast

Swimming a new location: Ardmore & the wreck of the Samson

Regular readers will know from past posts such as Ballymacaw, Portally, and Whiting Bay that when I am swimming a new location by myself, I try to understand as much as I can before I get in the water. When swimming a new location, it’s always well to remember my safety motto: The best safety decisions are made outside of the water.

Ardmore is a small and very pictureesque seaside village in west Waterford. It has previously won Ireland’s Tidyiest Village awards on a few occasions, and was the site of Ireland’s first Christian monastery 1700 years or so ago. The village is nestled into the west side of the bay under Ram Head, to provide protection from the prevailing south-westerly winds. Ardmore literally means the big height. The bay itself is shallow and there is no protective natural boat harbour (apart from a small concrete pier, with water too shallow for fishing or large boats).

It was a public holiday weekend and the Sun was shining and the day was warm. That’s consequential. We’ve had no summer to speak of for a couple of years and have just exited the coldest and most protracted spring in over sixty years. Meteorological reports of 2012 showed it started raining in early June and there was NO sunshine after that. Cold, wet and grim. Sunshine is therefore the rarest treat.

Ardmore to Samson

Ardmore is about an hour away from home, a bit too far for regular open water swimming trips. I wanted to take a close look at the route again before I’d swim it later in the summer. The potential swim is out of the shallow bay out along to the headland where it’s possible to climb down the rocks which are a popular sea angling location, around the headland and past another to the slight cove with the wreck, about 700 metres further.

Refraction patterns. Click for large.
Refraction patterns. Click for large.

From above on the cliff, with a light Force two breeze the water surface was merely rippley. The south westerly breeze was creating interesting refraction patterns around the headland. The cove which contains the Samson is slightly more protected by another headland and the wreck itself if at the cliff base. A protected path runs in a large circle past the Cliff House hotel, past the ruins of St. Declan’s Monastery, around the outside headland past the World Ward II (The Emergency as it was known in Ireland) around the back of the town past the Round Tower from the days of Viking depredations.

St Declan's _MG_4567-resized

Every indication for a swim that day was good, rather than waiting a future uncertain day. Though still cool the water had been 11 degrees in Sandycove the previous day for five laps of the island, about 8,000 metres. Out to the Samson and back was only about 3,200 metres. The day was very warm for Ireland, about 20 degrees. The sky was cloudless and during early afternoon the Sun was shining with no clouds along the whole course. Two anglers fishing off kayaks in two different locations didn’t seem to be drifting so there was no visible strong current. With the cliff path, Dee would be able to keep an eye on me for the entire swim for once and even get some photos. It seemed almost a perfect day. If it wasn’t for the jetskiis towing boarders around the moorings under the hotel. Why these exploratory swims seem to coincide with jetskiis…

We moved the car down to the slipway and I quickly grabbed a chocolate bar as a pre-swim snack. My final instructions to Dee, since I’d had a good look at the water included a 90 minute cutoff.

Donal IMG_4624.resized

I entered the flat cool water, about the same temperature as Sandycove the previous day. Dee would have to walk back up the hill, pass the hotel and out onto the cliff path.

I was past the hotel quickly and through the buoy moorings. I stopped after ten minutes to see if I could see Dee on the path. Not wearing my glasses and there’s being plenty of people walking, I couldn’t see her. I swam on and stopped before the headland, when I could see someone frantically rushing. For once I’d managed to travel quicker. I didn’t swim as close to the rocks as I’d expected due to the presence of a few sea anglers. I could see constant interest from people stopping on the cliff.

Dual lines IMG_4643.resized
Divergent wake lines

As soon as I rounded the headland, there was a bit of swell, only about half a metre though and I didn’t feel slowed down. The photo though is interesting, showing divergent wakes behind me, one from swimming, one from wave interference.  The glare was stronger and I couldn’t see anything in front of me but I knew I only had to pass the next surface rocks to reach the wreck cove. Another ten minutes and I was only able to make out the wreck by removing my goggles. I decided to approach from the far side to reduce the glare and I was at the wreck at about thirty-five minutes from the slipway. The path above the wreck is further inland due to a steep slope down, and I’d told Dee she would have to stay a couple of hundred metres back on the path to see me.

The wreck. Mine Head, site of Ireland's highest lighthouse is in the far distance.
Remains of the Samson. Mine Head, site of Ireland’s highest lighthouse is in the far distance.

The Samson was a crane barge. In December of 1987 it was being towed from Liverpool to Malta when a storm cut her loose with two crew from her tugboat off the Welsh coast. the crew were rescued and she eventually crashed a couple of hundred miles away on the Ram Head rocks and has been rusting away ever since.

Cruising In IMG_4782.resized

Under the cliff’s shelter the water was clear and cold and the direct overhead Sun made in-water photographs difficult.  There are some interesting looking caves for future swims.

Samson wreck

I spent about five minutes swimming around and taking shots as I cooled and then I struck out for the return.

Samson wreck underwater
Samson wreck underwater

After I rounded the angling rocks again, the flatness of the water was a rare treat and I sprinted for the slipway, an uneventful final stretch and I cruised onto the beach after 65 minutes, about 30 seconds ahead of Dee.

Donal swimming back from Samson in Ardmore-resized

Ballymacaw – Swimming a new location 2

I love swimming at my favourite places such as Kilfarassey, Sandycove and the Guillamenes. but I also love swimming at new places and there aren’t that many left to me on the Waterford Coast. It’s been some time since I did Project Copper Coast, swimming from Powerstown Head as far as Stradbally. There’s a gap of about two kilometres still unswum at Ballyvoyle Head, then all of Dungarvan Bay is swum (I hope to close that gap this year). There’s a long inaccessible stretch of coast with high cliffs from Helvick Head to Ardmore Bay, which stretch of coast is home to Ireland’s highest lighthouse at Mine Head and also still untackled apart from a couple of swims off Clare’s boat back in 2010. In 2011, I wrote a post on swimming a new location (Whiting Bay) and how I went about it, and this covers a similar theme of swimming a new location, but with different considerations.

Last year I travelled away from the Copper Coast closer to the Waterford Estuary, on the far (east) side of Tramore Bay and before Dunmore East, a less-travelled stretch of coast, and did an exploratory swim out of Portally Cove, where I discovered strong westerly currents running toward Dunmore East. 

The May Holiday weekend brought some very rare sun and a little bit of warmth, and a belief that I was finally recovering from a protracted chest infection. The water temperature seemed stable at around 10 degrees in Kilfarassey, so I decided I’d spent the day on the coast at the far side of Tramore Bay again.

Saleens warning sign
Saleens warning sign

We started the morning at the Saleens, the beach and channel at the east side of Tramore Bay. The channel separates the Back Bay, a tidal lagoon from the main bay and as such has a very strong current running through it.

From there we moved onward to Ballymacaw on the far side of Powerstown Head, which I’d only ever visited twice previously on a bad day and low tide. This occasion was a nice day, close to high tide. Like Portally, Ballymacaw is another tiny narrow and short high-sided cove, on the west side of the estuary but away from any  main road. If you remember, tidal range here in Ireland is about 5 metres average so at low tide both Portally and Ballymacaw Coves are almost dry and at high tide the coves are completely flooded. Prior to swimming Dee and I walked the path through the dense gorse bushes out to the old slipway, and then out beyond the cove entry for a good look outside the cove. Eastwards the next headland is Swines Head, to where I had swum from out of Portally. West from Ballymacaw is toward Powerstown Head and inaccessible from land, though the coast and cliffs are typically only about five to ten metres high, there are no roads.

Ballymacaw Cove
Ballymacaw Cove & the old slipway – (the new lens Polarizer is working out!)

The wind was fresh, about Force Three and there was plenty of movement in the water. With still cool water, it was earlier than usually to be doing an exploratory swim so it would need to be short. Not least because with my weight loss and less exposure training than usually, I’ve lost some of my hardening and feeling 45 minutes is about enough currently without wanting to push hard into a colder state. For this short exploratory swim at a new location, I had a number of things to evaluate and weigh beforehand

  • Swimming time
  • Currents
  • Rocks
  • Water state (roughness)
  • Wind direction
East from Ballymacaw to Swines Head
Looking east from Ballymacaw to Swines Head

Our walk out to the cliff outside the cove entrance gave a good view of the coast on either side. Also the water state of the sea and a good look at the rough water around the cove entrance. The cove itself was completely flat but right at the ten to fifteen metre-wide entrance there was a lot of movement in the water and reefs just visibly breaking the surface on the west side. The sea outside the cove had plenty of onshore wind, blowing south-westerly onto shore at a slight angle and the water was very choppy though with no big swell. Chop waves were one to two metres high.

Ballymacaw Cove entrance
Ballymacaw Cove entrance and the old slipway

Back at the car, I changed and explained my plan to Dee. The cove is about 300 metres long at high tide, it might take me four to five minutes to reach the entrance and the rough water at which point I would disappear from her view. With the wind blowing onshore but with a slight westerly element, I would swim into the chop. It was high tide, and though most people don’t believe me, high on the Waterford coast is NOT slack tide and I knew the tidal current would still be running east, though I couldn’t estimate any local eddy current effects which would run anti-clockwise. I also knew that there had been strong westerly currents from the west moving in this direction previously when I’d swum out of Portally and I would always choose to swim into an unknown current when heading out. The obvious rationale is that I don’t want to get carried too far away from a starting place by a strong current, and possibly have too difficult a swim back while getting cold.

So I would swim west for 15 minutes after leaving the cove, evaluating travelled distance as I went. If there was no current I would be then have 15 minutes back, plus another few minutes getting back to the beach, 40 minutes total. I wear a watch always when swimming open water so I’d be able to judge. Dee asked at what point should she start worrying, so I said 45 minutes, at which point she could walk up on the path to give her a better chance to see me.

As I was about to get ready a couple of guys were also getting changed into scuba gear. They were somewhat familiar with the cove, and indicated no items of concern, except a steep drop-off to 10 metres at the eastern exit of the cove and a consequent sharp drop in temperature. Just before I was ready to get in however, the worst of all possible arrivals, appeared in the bay: Three jetskis. Even in the flat water of the cove I didn’t want to risk getting in so I got back in the car. The jetskis tied up to the outside old slipway, and the guys came inland along the winding gorse path. they could only have come out of Dunmore East, the only possible water entrance for many miles. They came along the path, obviously heading for the pub near the cove. I had a chat and let them know I was heading out and there were already divers out there. They were nicer chaps but while I can’t be certain they were going for a drink, there was no-where else to go on that road and drinking and being on jetski isn’t illegal here, as far as I know. Another reason to add to my nervousness about jetskis.

Ballymacaw angler
Ballymacaw angler

It’s a very long lead-in for a short swim. As expected I reached the cove entrance after four and half minutes and immediately hit a line of choppy water. Just under the surface was a long reef reaching out from the west side of the entrance. I passed an angler who was positioned on rocks at the est side of the entrance and headed westward. The chop was coming south-westerly with the wind, about a metre and a half high. The jetskiers had warned me it was “big out there”. One a half metres of chop isn’t big, just messy and slow. After fifteen of grinding through it, I had travelled the glorious distance of maybe 400 metres! The westerly tidal current I’d expected was running strong. I released Duck #4 and turned back to the Cove entrance, impossible to see from seaward unless you are directly in front and close. The swim that had taken 15 minutes out took 5 minutes back!

Ballymacaw Cove entrance
Ballymacaw Cove entrance from the sea

Getting into the cove was quick over the reefs with the waves at the reef entrance providing a quick surf into calm water. I’d had been 30 minutes, so I swam to the beach in the warmer water at the high tide mark, and turned back for a couple of laps. I’d forgotten how tough it was to swim out of water that had helped you recover from much colder water. Warm water  feels nice…if you are not leaving it for cold water. Swimming back out the cove was brutal. The warmer water had restarted my circulation so I had inadvertently initiated Afterdrop, cooling faster, and now I was hit by colder water again. I lasted another 10 minutes  before I I was out of the water.

But the purpose of the swim, an initial scouting swim at a new relatively unknown location, though short, was successful. I’d like to stress that when swimming a new location, having a plan, an understanding of the constraints and possible problems and an idea of how to approach it, are all important.

I repeat that tides are a vital consideration for many locations and a solid understanding is essential for safety and swimming new locations in tidal areas. 

Sea pinks against the sky. yes, it's time for me to start taking lots of photos of sea pinks again.
Sea pinks against the sky. Yes, it’s the time of year for me to start taking lots of photos of sea pinks again.

Summer Storm Force on the Copper Coast

There is no swimming in this post. I really wanted to get swim just for the fun of it, but there was no safe exit point except at the pier and I knew I’d cause mass panic there, probably resulting in Rescue 117 being called out again. Does this mean I am growing up? Surely not.

Storm season is a nice phrase. Like Earthquake weather. And like the reality of  earthquake weather, storm season in Ireland is 12 months long, (as it seems for the past five years anyway).

Still, a couple of times a year we get a really big blow that hits the south and south-east. It’s half way though August, the month most Irish people take their hollyers (annual vacation), and a big low depression out in the Western Approaches drove a howling short-duration south-easterly Storm Force 9 onto the south coast. A south-easterly always provides a spectacle on the Waterford coast. Two trees were lost on the Loneswimmer Estate, and the brand new replacement diving board at the Guillamenes was snapped off, a board so heavy it took 6 adult men to lift recently.

High tide was late afternoon, and the wind increased from mid-day, luckily not hitting the maximum Storm Force until a few hours after high tide had passed. Anyway this is just an introduction. Everyone loves storms pictures. I took a lot of photos (400!) at the Newtown and the Guillamenes, Tramore Pier, Ladies Beach, and both ends of the Prom and managed to whittle a few I liked from the lot. (I’ve held a couple other back for future use, including my favourite). Long time regulars might have noticed I starting reducing resolution earlier in the year, to save me uploading full resolution images which weren’t required, it saves me time and WordPress Server space, and  saves you trying to load a 200 MB panorama pic. (I still have to go back and tidy up some of those, housekeeping isn’t fun).

Newtown Cove was wild before high tide and despite the rising storm, the sky was blue and the day was warm.

The sea breaking down onto the Newtown Cove platform. The blue sky only lasted a few minutes later than this image and was disappearing by the time I walked back to the car park.

Outside the Cove it was pretty big, waves looked about five to six metres, with occasional set waves at maybe seven to nine metres.

With the howling onshore, this meant breaking waves with spray reaching up to about 80 feet high.

The Guillamenes platform was completely inaccessible as waves exploded over it, occasionally even breaking over the top of the changing alcove. It wasn’t safe to go down past the first couple of steps, and it certainly wasn’t dry.

No wonder the diving board snapped with the volume of water bearing down on it.  Normally the board would be removed before the worst of the storms hit.

The bay provided a nice canvas. Tramore is a shallow bay, it was this type of onshore storm that was responsible for the loss of the Merchant Marine vessel the Seahorse in the late 19th Century in the Bay, and led to the erection of the pillars on Newtown and Brownstown Heads at either side of the bay, pillars you are well used to seeing here, the indicators of my swimming home.

The bathymetry of Tramore Bay is a long sloping sandy bottom with sandbanks going out a long way, which cause waves to jack up and break far out in these conditions.  And of course the bigger a wave the farther it reaches down to touch bottom, the slowing of the bottom of the waves is what causes it to break from the top as the lip spills over.

By the time I reached the pier, there were rain showers and photography became a bit more difficult.

From Newtown Head, past the Guillamene and Comolene rocks, into about a hundred metres in front of the pier under the cliff, was the direct straight line from the incoming south-easterly waves. The bay is shallow in front of the pier and there also are reefs and heavy thick kelp beds to suck the energy from the waves before they hit the cliff under where I was standing. And I finally got a decent image of something I’ve long been trying to capture; direct line of an onshore storm.

Taking pictures of just the sea is bloody difficult. Like you always look heavier on camera, photos often strip the power, grandeur and pure scale from the sea. This image isn’t as showy a photo as big breaking waves, not as obvious as most of my shots here, but this is a sea-lover’s image, at least, this sea-lover anyway.The beaten-steel grey-green of the Atlantic, Mananán Mac Lir howling and driving his chariot led by his white horse, Aonbarr of the Flowing Mane.

I shot some brief video above the pier, but with nowhere in the deep cliff-edge grass to anchor the small tripod and the wind buffeting me, I had to keep it short. I took also some video on the waterproof camera, but I haven’t reviewed it yet.

I moved into town, but got no good images at Ladies Beach. I’d gone through most of the lens wipes in my camera bag trying to keep the lens clear.

The town end of the Promenade and seawall is always popular during onshore storms, waves breaking on the wall, and you can get close enough for reasonable photography because there’s a nice dry spot right at the end of the prom. This time I didn’t spend too much time on the usual photos from here, and focused on some other stuff, life a father and son running and laughing and racing the spray over the wall. And the spray itself. I got really lucky on this one.

I went around the prom and onto the beach beyond the Surf Centre for a contrary view with the town providing the backdrop. I still miss the yellow and red of the lifeguard centre, the white roof is characterless.

I wish I’d been able to wish Hook yesterday, it must have been fun out there.

I really wish I were a better photographer, but I’ll keep trying. About 15 good images from 400 is an improvement on my previous rate of 1%. I have high resolutions of these images, if anyone want to purchase any by the way.

If anyone cares, someone(s) nominated loneswimmer.com for four categories in the Irish blog awards.

The categories for which I’ve been nominated are;

  • Getting Cold And Wet While Covered in Sheep Grease
  • MAMIL (Middle-Aged Men In Lycra)
  • Special Category for Inventive Use of Baby Dolphin Juice
  • Doing Stupid Things While Devilishly Handsome But Also Cold And Wet And Still Wearing Sheep Grease And Lycra

I’m told the award for the last one is a rubber statuette.

Maybe. Categories are never what they should be. LoneSwimmer.com will pass 150,000 views within a week and that’s not including the direct subscribers. I’ve got you readers, you keep putting up with this nonsense, ergo … je suis tres contente. Thanks again to you all.

Swimming the Copper Coast (Continued – Dungarvan area)

Clonea Beach

Beach, about 2000 meters in length but swimming distance can be further. Parking at both ends. Shallow beach means quicker entry at high tide, but there are submerged rocks right in front of the parking at the Clonea Strand Hotel end of beach most of which are hidden at high tide. A common swim is East from hotel to slipway and back, about 40 minutes for a 3k per hour swimmer.

It’s possible to swim westerly out to the first small rock island (Carricknamoan) but only on high tide as it is too shallow and with too much bottom kelp on low tide. This is about 3500 metres. There is a weak adverse current which pulls you off line when returning to Hotel Car Park. Follow a line toward Helvick Head and adjust to your left on the way toward the island. Occasional seal.

Baile na Gaul to Helvick Harbour To Helvick Head and Dungarvan Bay

Across Dungarvan Bay is rarely swum except for the Helvick Swim, due to high water traffic (Fishing, sailing).

There’s a shallow reef called The Gainers about 2/3 of the way across (swimming from east to west) that runs into the bay. There is a sharp temperature drop after on the West side of the bay from an inward cold water current.

There are lots of buoys in the bay.

It is unsafe to swim around Dungarvan town harbour due to very high tidal current and water traffic.

Helvick Harbour is a working fishing-boat pier so be careful of boats. There is also plenty of diesel in the water around and outside the pier.

Baile Na Gaul is one mile inland of Helvick Harbour. Short stony beach. Sandy water entrance for 50 metres from the pier wall. Otherwise may be submerged rocks. Best after half tide but there are currents running up and down coast between Baile Na Gaul & Helvick except at high and low water, strong enough to halve normal swimming rate.

Possible to exit safely from the water for about 2/3s of the distance between Baile Na Gaul & Helvick Harbour.

There is a new Waste Treatment Plant about ¾ of the way between Helvick & Baile Na Gaul. There are often very cold spots around here from surface water run-off. Occasional sewage has been “tasted” in the water. There is (up to ¾ knot) strong current around this point out to about 200 metres.

Very choppy conditions here in Northerly wind unlike many other spots are there is a long area for wind to blow across the bay from the town to here.

Helvick Harbour to Helvick Head is a short distance. Sheltered by the Head. Rubbish, kelp and jellyfish accumulate here at slack tides and winds.

Swimming the Copper Coast (Metalman to Ballydowane)

Kilfarassy to Metalman

About 5 KM. Nice swim but only one other safe entry/exit point. Should only be swum on correct tide due to tide stream.

Kilmurrin Cove to Dunbrattin

Kilmurrin Cove is a small horseshoe cove about two miles from Bunmahon. It’s safe to swim in the cove but there are strong rip currents around cove entry in rough water. There are also lots of rocks on the ground below the sandy beach at lower tides. Kilmurrin to Dunbrattin Head is about 750 metres swim but exit at Dunbrattin is restricted through a private camping site.

Water around Dunbrattin Head has rips. Local seal usually only visible in choppy water.

Bunmahon Beach

About 750 metres long. Parking. Strong rip in the centre of beach where the waves look less. Undertow at West end of beach. In some calm swell conditions in spring and autumn Bunmahon can have a VERY strong outward going South-Westerly rip that is Too Strong to swim against but this condition is rare. The rip cannot be seen from land and runs from the centre of the beach outward past the headland.

There have been a few swimming fatalities at Bunmahon over the years due to the currents. It’s a popular local surf spot due to the breaking force of the waves here.

Local seal usually only visible in choppy water.

Ballydowane Cove

Small cove, about 500metres across, surrounded by high cliffs. Fairly sheltered. Parking. Submerged rocks at East end of beach at high tide. I’ve found it safe to swim here.

Swimming the Copper Coast

Dunmore East

A small cove with beach on the west side of the estuary. Very sheltered on southerly storms. Sewage is occasionally discharged directly into the cove here. Currents are safe to swim between beach and harbour or intermediate points like lady’s Cove. Local tri-athlete clubs train here on Monday nights.

Tramore Beach

5-mile long beach. Shallow along whole length.

Has a consistent long shore drift westward running, usually about 0.25 to about 0.5 knots strong, from the Red & Yellow Lifeguard hut at the end of the Promenade to the Town end. Waves break most strongly in front of Lifeguard Hut. Plenty of surfers.

Has lots of strong rips and currents at Saleen’s end of beach (5 miles from town), around entry to the back lagoon.(Back lagoon is a very shallow tidal lagoon) a few hundred yards behind beach.

The old sewage discharge pipe visible just east of Pebble Beach end at low tide, no longer discharges sewage directly into the water. Instead a new pipe discharges sewage directly into the sea about 500 metres out Because why would anyone ever be out there?

Welcome to Tramore. We’ll take your money. Here’s our excrement.

Tramore, my main swimming location

Most of my lone swimming is at:
Tramore Bay, Guillamenes and Newtown Cove.

The Guillamenes is the best County Waterford open-water swimming spot. It is located about 2 miles outside of Tramore town, down the steps at the bottom of a 40 foot cliff on the West side of the bay, about 1000 metres before the three large columns on the headland (“The Metalman”). It has been used as local traditional swimming spot and has had a club for over 60 years.

It has ample parking, public toilets open during the summer and lots of local “polar-bear” short-distance year-round swimmers. It has a diving board during the summer and steps & ladder entries.

It can be swum on any tide. The main starting spot is down at Guillamenes cove which has a concrete apron and steps.

Newtown Cove about 50 yards away is a slipway and rocky small beach entrance and is slightly better for entering on a Southeasterly wind though will still be choppy on this wind. exiting on the stony beach will be difficult in these conditions.

Care should be given to watch the swell height at both locations on choppy days to make sure exiting is safe.

Tramore Bay is about 5 metres deep in the middle, running to 10 to 11 metres deep outside the outer bay entrance and around the headlands. It is about 4 km across.

T-Bay is shallower in the outer middle bay due to sandbanks, and swells often develop there even in calm which are difficult to see from land.

Boat traffic is low, mainly local inshore fishing boats, and there are occasional (but rare) idiot jet-skiers, but the boats are generally on the west (swimming) side of the bay therefore bright caps are strongly advised.
Line anglers dot the rocks the whole way from the Collomene, (400 metres inshore of the Guillamenes) out to the headland, so be wary to stay outside them.

During middle of the summer, large blooms of jelly fish accumulate in the west (swimming) side of the bay in Easterly or South easterly winds. These include stinging Lion’s Mane, Compass & “Purple Stingers”. First blooms happen late April/early May and are quickly followed by very large blooms, later settling to smaller numbers.

At least one inward running cold-water current (know as “The Scarf) on the west side of the bay usually about 100 metres from the coast. Not strong in the outer half of the bay , the Scarf runs in towards Doneraile Head above the town, where it can get up 1 knot. At this point it turns and runs outwards but dissipates quickly. The Scarf also moves. A South Westerly swell and wind can move it out into the middle of the bay.

It is not recommended to swim from the Beach Lifeguard hut end of the beach (Pebble Beach) directly across the bay towards the Guillamenes because of the Scarf as it can significantly slow progress of even strong swimmer, and will stop weaker swimmers.

It is better to swim along the beach into the long-shore drift, around Doneraile Head to the Pier staying within about 200 metres of the coast at this section, across to the pier and along to the Guillamenes.

There is also a current at the east side of the Bay coming in past Brownstown Head but this is rarely swum and generally needs boat access.

There are occasional localised strong rips around the entrance to Tramore Pier. Entrance back into the small harbour can be difficult in swells.

There are no strong currents around the Metalman but there a few large sea caves that can be swum into on very calm days. Larger swell waves can arise around this area in Southerly and South Westerly winds. About 50 metres outside Newtown Cove is an area I call “The Washing Machine”. There’s a reef here which causes swell and chop to jack up (and very occasionally break). Swimming back in from the headland through this can be unpleasant, with suddenly rising waves faces coming up suddenly from behind one. I usually swim outside it but a SE or SW swell can push one in towards it.

All that said, the water is deep and clean (though often murky due to sand raised in onshores). There’s a local common seal who pops up mainly in choppy conditions, and has occasionally swum alongside me.

The area is sheltered from westerly and North-westerly and south-westerly winds, and even some slight shelter from the prevailing southerlies, as it faces slightly south-east. I can plan a variety of swims from 1 kilometer up by varying direction and turning point.
The regulars are very friendly and we welcome tourists, of whom we get a lot. The “Men Only” sign is a relic of days gone-by.

And if you see a plastic box with “Long-distance swimmer” on it, down on the concrete, I’m out at sea…