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Sea Leopard - swimmers eye view

Friday, 19 August 2011

Ranie Pearce - Solo Success 5th August 2011 - Report by Keith Oiller

Ranie Pearce - photo from http://www.swimmingthechannel-august2011.blogspot.com/
1300 - Arrived at Dover Marina.


1310 - Onboard Sea Leopard with Stuart Gleeson (pilot) and Stewart Richardson (Crew)
Introduced to Ranie (swimmer), Jackie, Robert and Hannah (Support team)

1320 - Left pontoon. Safety briefing given by Stewart. Informed Ranie of proceedures and CSA guidance, together with main rules covering solo swims and observer duties. Stewart checks that all on board have passport/identification.
1325 - Return to pontoon to enable Robert and Hannah to collect identification from car.
1340 - Left Dover Harbour accompanied by 2 yachts.

1355 - Arrived off Samphire Hoe beach. Ranie has completed preparation for swim. Has 2x lights fitted and activated (cap and swim suite straps). Swims ashore to commence swim.

1403 - Ranie clear of water. Re-enters water on klaxon being sounded. Stop watch started and swim commences at 1403hrs. Weather good - light wind, virtually clear blue sky.
1420 - Two dolphins spotted by Jackie approx 50m port bow.

1425 - Inshore quite busy - 4 x yachts to south, Pathfinder and relay team approx quarter mile off bow.
1428 - Ranie stopped swimming briefly but contined after acknowledging that she was OK (Just checking that we were paying attention.

1451 - Sea France Ferry Roden leaving Dover bound for Calais.
1503 - Standard data taken and recorded.
1507 - Stop for feed. Drink given by bottle on string. Energy bars given via bucket on feeding pole.
1509 - Swim recommenced after feed
1525 - Pilot advised approx 2 miles off shore
1540 - Very little inshore traffic. P&O freight ferry leaving Dover
1605 - Clear Blue Skies with low bands of clouds on horizon to East and as a back drop to the white cliffs of Dover. French coast is clearly visible.
1622 - Cabin cruiser crosses close across bow travelling up Channel.
1623 - Seal spotted approx 150yards off port side.
1640 - P&O ferry passes on port side bound for Calais.
1715 - Sea France ferry passes close on Starboard side bound for Calais.
 

1722 - P&O ferry passes close on Starboard side bound for Dover.
1845 - DFDS Seaways ferry passes close on port side bound for Dunkirk.


1847 - Enter South West Shipping Lane.
1853 - Container ship NYK Cool line Summer Flower passes close astern. Travelling down Channel after being advised of our position by Dover Coastguard.
1855 - DFDS Seaways ferry passes close on starboard side bound for Dover.
1925 - Large Bulk Carrier San Marino Trader passes close astern travelling down Channel.
1945 - Area of weed entered - safely negotiated by Ranie. Small coaster passing astern.
1955 - Ranie stops swimming momentarily - "The weed scared me." Still some small areas of weed.
1957 - Ranie stops swimming - to check that all on board Sea Leopard are OK!! She can see France.
2000 - Large container ship CSAV Ruparco passes very close across bow. Ranie takes opportunity to feed.

2004 - Oregon Highway car carrier passes close across bow going down Channel.
2008 - Fulmar (seabird) visits Ranie - chif photographer Hannah has taken photo.
2028 - Stop early for feed to allow vessel to pass.
2030 - large bulk carrier FD Vittorio Raiola passes very close across bow.
2110 - Cruise Ship Costa Magica passes across bow going down Channel. Getting dark.
2135 - Slightly delayed feed. (Problems changing gas bottle - can't get the staff these days!!) Ranie swims backstroke whilst finishing Mojo bar.
2155 - Very little close / visible shipping. Large container vessel approx. 2 miles ahead going up Channel (silhouetted against lights on French coast)
2220 - Enter Separation zone.
2230 - Enter North East Shipping Lane - very little visible shipping.
2345 - Shipping continue to be quiet - lights of three ferries can be seen some distance to the South.
0029 - It's raining - light, fine drizzle. Visibility has reduced but still reasonable, having been very good
0108 - DFDS Seaways ferry passing close on Port side bound for Dunkirk.
0142 - P&O Ferry passes close off Starboard side bound for Calais.
0145 - Approx half way across NE Lane. Stopped raining visibility increased. Lights on French coast clearly. Visible again. Lights on English coast still clearly visible are only slowly diminishing.
0155 - Over past 15mins Ranie has tended to alternate strokes (front crawl, back & breast.) After feed taken at 0158, returned to front crawl.
0230 - Light drizzle. Visibility to South reduced but lights around Calais still clearly visible.
0232 - Feed taken. Ranie concerned that it is raining and those on Sea Leopard are getting wet. Visibility has reduced - looks like those on board will be getting wetter.
0252 - P&O Ferry passes on starboard side bound for Calais. Continues to rain more heavily. We are getting wetter
0328 - Still raining. Visibility limitied. 2 small coasters passing astern. Shipping is relatively quiet - approx. three quarters of a mile before we leave shipping lane and enter French inshore waters.
0334 - Ranie stopped swimming - asked for "Second Surge" sachet to help relieve cramp.
0336 - Second Surge given with water. Ranie swims back stroke for 8 mins, front crawl 4 mins, back stroke 4 mins beffore returning to front crawl.
0356 - Left NE Shipping Lane and entered French inshore waters.
0425 - Continues to rain. Light to medium drizzle. Very little inshore shipping - even the ferries aren't coming out to play.
0455 - Heavy rain but sky is brightening.
0506 - DFDS Seaways ferry passes astern en route to Dunkirk
0525 - Combination of tide and time has resulted in our postition being rather further East than desired.

Comment from Pilot: "It's a learning curve - you learn something new on each trip"

Comment from Crew: "Pity the skipper didn't do a recce of the Belgian coast when he checked out the French coast a couple of weeks ago."
0625 - Small coaster passing across stern going down Channel/bound for Calais.
0650 - Pilot advised that landing may be on Calais harbour breakwater.
0712 - Coast North of Calais harbour looks tantalisingly close. Level of encouragement given to Ranie has increased.
0722 - DFDS Seaways ferry passing astern entering Channel approach to Dunkirk harbour.
0724 - French motor launch passing astern, yacht passing approx half mile inshore of Sea Leopard. 2x French fishing boats working inshore.
0750 - Crew preparing tender.
0806 - French yacht passes close astern going down coast - makes a change to receive a friendly greeting.
0825 - Stewart and Hannah leave in tender to acccompany Ranie ashore. Pilot keeps position to enable observation of completion of swim.
0843 - Stopwatch stopped @ 18hrs 40 mins. Location: Sand Dunes, Pointe de Walde, East of Calais harbour wall.
0859 - Tender returns to Sea Leopard and Ranie, Hannah and Stewart return on board.

0905 - Commence return to Dover Marina, all on board in high spirits.
1130 - Enter Dover harbour after uneventful return Channel crossing.
1140 - Safely back on pontoon with a very happy team.
1145 - Left boat after completion of official report forms.


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