Yesterday Ian Down and I managed to accomplish the long cherished goal of swimming from Portscatho to Gull Rock and back again. We were very kindly accompanied by Mike Lippold and his neighbour Paul in the amphibious RIB Sealegs. The conditions were reasonably calm and we were able to set off from the jetty about an hour and a half after high tide. This meant we would be carried up towards the rock for an hour or two before the direction of the tidal flow changed to help bring us back the way. This was all rather serendipitous as we hadn’t actually planned this at all!
As ever with distances at sea, the rock does not look that far away but is in fact aproximately 3 miles from Portschatho. We had a fantastic swim out to the rock passing a few fishing and sailing boats on the way and then stopped for a welcome cup of tea followed by bananas. It was exhilarating then to swim round the rock as it is such a conspicuous local landmark. Having seen it many hundreds of times in the distance under all its guises in different weather conditions and different kinds of light, it was certainly exhilarating actually to be swimming along right underneath it accompanied by the loud screeching of all the sea birds that live on it.
There was quite a current circulating around the rock and, since close in you can see the bottom, at times you felt as if you were just swimming on the spot as patches of rock and weed remained resolutely in the same place underneath us. However, once we made it around full circle we were able to start the swim back again towards Portscatho. The wind from the south west started to pick up at this stage and with the current going in the opposite direction, albeit carrying us where we wanted to go, it meant that the water started to get quite choppy for the next hour or so.
Eventually we made it back in to the harbour and after four hours and seventeen minutes precisely were able to touch the wall of the jetty to make it official. Sealegs was not only able to motor in behind us but then went up on its wheels and drove up the beach.
Thanks again to Mike and Paul for making it all possible and also to Mark from Roseland Online who did a great job publicising the swim for us. It was great to see local photographer Mary Alice Pollard waiting on the beach and thanks to her for the photos of us coming in at the end. Also of course to Mike’s wife, Judy, who had champagne and a banquet waiting for us on the lugger.