Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Swimming the Channel

Vacationing on the North Carolina shore is not good for bike training; I'll be off the bike for a week. But it IS great for high-humidity runs, perfect for Hawaii, and swimming. Sunset Beach is a barrier island and there is another island just north of us. They're separated by an inlet channel that is maybe a couple hundred yards. This is a fantastic place to do open-water laps. Sometimes.

The eastern seaboard has a very shallow shelf, which creates very dramatic changes based on the tides. I remember trying to swim the channel a couple years as the tide was going out and almost being washed out to so this time I thought I would be smart and do my laps right before high tide, so if I did get caught in any current it would simply bring me inland. Unfortunately, in addition to the high tide there were high winds blowing and the inlet was a maelstrom. I stepped 5 feet off shore and could barely stand up straight because the current was so strong.

I was with my friend Alan, who is known for having more courage than skill (although is certainly very athletic) and he thought we should try to swim across anyway. The logic was that if we could just get through the rough current along the shoreline, it would be smoother near the middle of the inlet. And again, if the current swept us away, it would dump us in a marsh.

We jumped in, and yes the current swept us down a bit but we got through the worst of it pretty quickly and the water was much calmer 25 yards out. Alan doesn't have as much experience as I do in open water and was struggling a bit to move against the current so we decided to just surrender to it instead.

We went back to the stronger current and At times I felt like Nemo's dad Marlin riding the East Australian Current. We were brought around to the back of the island very quickly and cruised by a bunch of party boats docked right off the beach. Swimming with a good current is a good way to get a quick tour of the island.

We cheated and walked our way back to where we started. Although we covered a fair amount of distance, I felt that I was cheating in terms of getting a workout so I'm only crediting myself for half the time.


Post a Comment

<< Home