How To: Swimming a new location – 1

This is the first post about exploring some new or lesser swum areas along the South East coast.

Whiting Bay is on the Dungarvan side, just around the headland from Ferrypoint in Youghal Bay, in Cork. Capel Island is visible in the west, beyond Youghal. Mairead Ní Eidhean swam from there into Youghal some years back, swimming against a tough current.

I’ve surfed there a couple of times, years ago. It’s utterly unprepossessing as a surf location. But I was returning from Cork the other evening and fancied somewhere new.

It had been rainy with low grey skies all day. The bay looks about two and a half kilometres from east to west and about one kilometer to outside the line of the two headlands.

Swimming a new spot by yourself requires a bit of thought. I approached this location like it was my first time there, since it had been a long time, and my level of care is greater for swimming than it was surfing.

There’s a small car park but with no other amenities. No public toilets or lifeguards means it not really heavily used and is really only used by locals.

Next check for signs. No lifeguards means no swim flags. But there are no warnings of dangerous currents or rips. There were beach fishing signs on approach, but experience shows that doesn’t necessarily means anything, except perhaps some incoming currents. Bunmahon for example is a steep sand beach with no rocks.

Next look at the beach. The big tidal range in Ireland means mostly less steep beaches. Rips often occur due to steep beaches and no signs meant it was probably a shallow beach. And there a few people standing in obviously shallow water.

Since I don’t like swimming in a small area though all this really only applied to the immediate vicinity. The west side was the furthest away, maybe one and a half kilometers, with some rocks peeking up close to shore about half way down.

The wind was light onshore, so it wasn’t going to cause any problems. I decided I’d head for the further away side of the bay, past the rocks, parallel to shore.

It was high tide or just after, so the rocks would be further exposed by my return. There had not been any sun for at least twenty-four hours.

However just after entering the water was very warm. In fact, I quickly realised this was the warmest water I’d swam in all year.

After a sandy bottom start , I started to moved over kelp and reached the reefs in about 10 to 15 minutes. I love swimming over reefs, and there were plenty of fish and crabs visible, darting around. Some negotiation was required as I swam between the two exposed areas, and it was all shallow. It was very clear and obviously clean. I reached the far side of the bay in about twenty five minutes, met two snorkelers, had a chat and returned. Coming back I decided instead of staying shallow I would head for the opposite headland and would traverse the centre of the bay. I was about 500 to 750 metres as the beach swung away from me. By the time I was in front of the car park, an hour had passed, The water had remained warm. Cold patches were rare and only cold relative to the warmer water. I decided to head straight in, which actually took six of seven minutes.

It was actually an interesting swim, and very beautiful under the water, far more so that many other beach spots, utterly belying its apparent dullness above water.

Very safe, at lower tides the range would be quite reduced by exposed rocks.



3 thoughts on “How To: Swimming a new location – 1

  1. Pingback: How To: Be Responsible For Your Own Open Water Swimming Safety – Two Guiding Principles | LoneSwimmer

  2. Hi Donal
    That day you swam Whiting Bay, I was just around the corner anchored in Ardmore!
    The visibility was exceptional on friday 29th & a few days before due to the offshore winds. Some local divers confirm this to me as Ardmore was crystal also.
    Talk soon


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