So it all went…differently than expected.
Air temperature outside the house was -4°C.
I’ve noticed occasionally over the years that my house seems to exist within a thermocline, as it’s on the Suir river bank, and the town is flanked on the north and south by hills. Often driving up the southerly steep hill will be accompanied by a temperature rise.
Today since I was heading toward Tramore, I was driving down the valley however, but within 5 mile the temperature was up to -1°C.
The air was still at home but looking at the wind turbines outside Portlaw indicated a Northerly wind.
But, after arriving at the Guillamenes, while there were a few cars around, air temperature was a nice 2 to 3°C. There was a sizable short-range South Easterly swell, so very rough and choppy. Taking my own advice, I watched the water for about 5 minutes. It was half tide and sets were surging to about six to eight feet up the steps.
Even with the new wide steps and railings (the Council put three railing in by the way, after it was pointed out to them that the original design was insufficient), it was too dodgy for a safe exit.
Anyone getting in and out there today would have been taking an unnecessary risk! I’ve written about this repeatedly, in fact only yesterday. At steps, ladders and rocks, the exit is the most dangerous point!
It’s a risk that I wouldn’t and didn’t take, & I have significantly more experience than all those who were there earlier, yet… in they went. And put that in the context of some of the things that I’ve done.
While there was conceivably time to get out between waves, there was no pattern, so you could be half way up when a set could catch you. And I was congizant of the fact that I would have cold or numb hands and feet.
Luck is the fool’s shield.
As I mentioned in my post the other day, OBSERVE. If there are other
egotistical idiots, people who are doing something, you are not obliged to do the same.
I’ve had people try to lecture me, telling me what I do is wrong. But I haven’t spent all this time as the Lone Swimmer without learning, instead of following. And in fairness the one person who used to try the lecturing was the one who know the least but has the most (unjustified) arrogance.
And then I took the temperature. Wait for it…5.2°C. Holy freholie! In December! A 2°C drop in a week.
That’s in the range of coldest sea temperature I’ve experienced, but two a half months ahead of schedule. Last year’s coldest was 5°C.
Ok, over to Newtown Cove for a look. I knew Newtown would be sheltered for entry and exit but the tiny beach is stony. There’s a ladder and slipway down also from the concrete platform, but I don’t want to climbing down, and later trying to climb up, a metal ladder that’s going to be at that low temperature. The slipway at that side is algae-covered so that’s a no-no. And I didn’t fancy managing the stones after a swim.
So it’s off to my backup location, Tramore Pier, which I only swim from a few times a year but have swam to more times than I can remember.
And indeed,with a half tide, and being deeper inside T-bay, inside the pier was completely calm.
Walked over to the lower inside wall to take a measurement for curiosity’s sake, it was 5.1°C inside the wall, and 5.6°C one metre away on the outside of the wall. The ground was 0° to 2°C!
The pier is shallow so it’s a slow entry. I left my coat and sandals around the tide line and off I went. Maybe because of the slow entry it didn’t feel that bad. I swam outside the pier wall and out towards the Metalman and then I realised, someone could come along see the coat, and either panic or take the car keys. Normally I use a lockbox on the car but I thought with the 75 metre walk back today, I’d have lost some dexterity and might have a problem.
So I swam back did a loop inside the tiny harbour, swam back outside in a direct line from the beach this time and came back. I actually felt fine. However the pain that the 5C range causes in the hands and feet was there, and which at that temperature never departs. I had real pain in both as I exited, it was the main reason for getting out at 14 minutes.
Walking across the mixed sand and shingle was painful, my hands were really bloody painful and I was of course that lovely luminous lobster red.
“It’s all good”, as my daughter says.
Getting dressed I was under the cliff, well out of any wind, I felt okay, in fact I thought, “I feel unusually good for this temperature”. I got dressed without any difficulty before the after-drop hit, and while I had some shivering and jaw chattering, I was good to drive after a hot chocolate. I was really comfortable by about an hour.
And a bonus for one of the Doggits was that the Not-so-small Emergency Backup Dog found half of an half-frozen, half-rotten fish, so he was very happy with the trip. He stinks now though.
Next weekend it’ll be the Christmas Day swim. With a bit of luck, and co-operation from my wonderful fiancée, I might get to document it a bit.