Two hours before dawn we hit the beach, I feel like a covert operative going on a mission. Prep the kayak, load the food and spare gear, turn on the lights and get coated in sunscreen. Good bye Robert’s Creek, next stop Nanaimo, 32km away. Two years of dreaming and planning and training, nine people necessary to pull it off, one shot at success.
Right from the start the current and the wind carry us off course. Five hours in, conditions are really rough. I am getting spun around on the waves, can’t sight my kayak, have not eaten for two hours, and am constantly worried about how far off course we are. My kayaker, Erica, directs me to the yacht. I swim over, fearing the worst, resigning myself to getting pulled out of the water. The captain comes on deck and commands everyone’s attention. He tells me to concentrate on the kayak, and let the crew do everything else. He is giving me a pep talk, just swim! His words focus me, I just let go and swim, it is glorious!
The next eight hours are fabulous, the wind and waves gradually die down and we all work well together. I feel like I was born to do this. Unfortunately, under the calmed surface of the ocean, there is a tiger. The tidal current bore almost directly on me for the last couple of hours, there was no way I was going to be able to swim the last five miles against it. My first DNF for an event! 5 miles short, but maybe next year we will win.
Thank you ATC for all the encouragement and support and coaching. I have been swimming almost three years now, still wondering where this adventure is going to lead. I will never forget Erica in her kayak beside me, with a six foot wave breaking over her, screaming WOOHOO!