Swimmers view

Swimmers view
Sea Leopard - swimmers eye view

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Athena Passage - unsuccessful relay swim 14th July 2012

Report by Stuart Gleeson

Met the Athena Passage team at 1800, raining hard but forecast to improve later. Stuart Adams accompanying me as crewman.
Athena Passage Channel Relay Team

Explaining positions on the chart.

We left Dover Harbour & made our way to Shakespeare Beach, Bruce starting the team off at 1850 with a strong swim. Heidi took over an hour later as the swell began to decrease.

We make sure John is fitted with lightsticks as he will finish in darkness. He enters the water at 2050 but swims off in the wrong direction. Never mind John, that's what the boat horn is for. We soon get underway towards France again.

At 2150 Donna makes her start & John gets back onboard. Ahead on the French Coast we can see a firework display commemorating Bastille day. 2202 - I call Dover Coastguard to inform them that we are entering the Sou'West Lane. 2222 - Cargo vessel Sulphur Genesis passes our bow. I have to get Donna to tread water whilst it passes, it's course too close to be safe to continue for a few minutes. Sea Leopard is fitted with an AIS radar - Automatic Identification of Ships. This device shows us up to other vessels but also gives me their position, course, speed, size, cargo & destination. One of the computerised systems onboard that is linked to this also has a collision predictor - this gives me time to alter course, radio the other vessel if necessary & take evasive action. This might be a change of course or in this instance to treadwater until it passes. On some trips this can happen multiple times, on others not at all. Dover Coastguard & Gris Nez traffic monitor all traffic movements & radio transmissions in the Strait of Dover & can intervene at any time with instructions, advice or assistance to vessels. It is mandatory to report entry & exit into the lanes & inshore traffic zones to the authorities - Dover on the English size, Gris Nez on the French.

Amy takes over from Donna at 2250. Some seasickness from the team. Stacey takes over at 2350. Swimming in the dark is not easy & sometimes affects swimmers - Stacey makes a brave effort but decides at 0013 not to continue.

The team were very supportive of each other which is always good to see. They're coming back again too, so we'll look forward to seeing them again.


I wanted to drop you a note and thank you again for the support you gave our team during our attempt on 14 July. It was definitely a steep learning curve for me, but I am looking forward to joining you again next year for another go... The charity for whom I ran this event has asked that I continue to run a swim annually for our widows and wounded, so I wanted to get a head start on 2014 as well...

Brad Rhinelander
Founder, Athena Passage
A Travis Manion Foundation Challenge Program

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