18 May 2013: Dee Why to Shelley and back again or “So that’s what cable ties are for”

With Southhead swim (Bondi to Watson’s Bay) being off the cards for both of us (failure of boat support), Ben and I were keen to do an adventure swim that was “low admin”. Initially Jennie was going to paddle me/us from Palmie to Mona Vegas, but we ended up starting Saturday meeting Collie at Dee Why Beach at 0620. Collie Kinsella is a saint; being a channel swimmer himself he understands the challenges, motivators etc of the great pursuit and what’s more was willing to give up a swim opportunity to test his new kayak prior to paddling for Miles at Southhead the following day.

We knew there was a pronounced southerly swell that would make the Southhead swim of the following day a fast one, but DY being protected, was lake like as we set off in the cold dawn (11 degrees), with the ocean just starting to drop in temperature (19 degrees). ┬áThe original plan was a 3 hour swim, 1:40 south then a swell assisted 1:20 back… figured we might make Freshwater.

Apart from swimming into swell and windchop, with swell also reflecting off Curly headland, the swim was a beaut… just hard going. We held pretty close to the headland, but once clear of it and onto North Curly, we made a straight(ish) course toward Shelley Beach. ┬áThis took us pretty far out from the shore, probably further than I’ve been with only kayak support, and more than one sharky shape was seen moving under us during the swim along the sea floor; from a safety perspective Collie had thought of many things: cable ties (tourniquet), whistle, life jacket (in case Ben or I became <ahem> floating compromised), but as we stopped for a feed about 3-400m off Curly, we wondered what we would do if we did have a real sighting… clambering on the kayak and shouting seems pretty lame… note to self: iPhone in waterproof case next time!

Thanks to some chest beating we decided to push on to Shelley Beach and I’m so glad we did; swimming over the Bombora at North Steyne was enjoyable, Fairy Bower was teeming with fish, coffee at Shelly was terrific! A 2:20 swim south (over about 6km, depending on whether you beieve my Garmin, which Ben does not) became a 1:50 swim back north as we were pushed by the tide; the feeling of flying when you swim with swell assistance is hard to beat! The slow leg south is testament to how hard going it was; every time we fed we were being washed north.

Apart from a 5minute period off Freshie headland where we didn’t move at all, the swim back was a breeze, and 4h10m after leaving DY we were back and brimming with joy and the sense of pride that comes with taking on a significant stretch of the Sydney Coast. I had previously swum Manly to DY and DY to Manly, but never a return, so it was on my to do list. Nailed it. Happy as a clam!