Another post on the subject of navigation, this one from Mojo...
On Friday mornings in the summer, there has been for some years a small (but now rather larger) group that gathers informally at 6:00 at Greenwich (Tod’s) Point on the Long Island Sound, as the sun is rising on the eastern facing beach, for a swim of approx. 1.5 miles to herald the coming weekend.
It’s often a swim along the beach at a fair distance from the shore, or out (and back) to the channel buoy further out in the Sound, where the strong currents become an obvious and occasionally hazardous navigational factor.
Did I mention navigation?
… right, but the point of this post (rather a faux post, since the writer is blog-less) is about one particular swim (perhaps July 2007?) when we jumped in for the annual 3 mile swim from John Cook’s dock on Stamford Cove to Tod’s Point.
On a bright sunny morning, this is a delightful swim out of the harbor and out across the Sound, usually within a half-mile of the coast. While the water that morning was dead flat (good), it was certainly not bright and sunny, and the loud but muffled fog horn blasts were annoying intrusions to our pre- caffeinated state.
We were only a group of six that day, and we jumped in feeling confident in our well-worn wetsuits with their added buoyancy—and protection from the jellyfish.
It was looking quite manageable when we set out—how hard could it be to swim closer to the coastline?—until the heavy stuff rolled in about a mile into the swim. Complete white-out, curtain down.
(Ref. O Docker’s seminal Gorilla in the Mist post.)
It is one thing to be on a vessel in that terrifying situation, and quite another to be the floating vessel itself. Separated from your equally isolated mates by untold yards that seemed like miles, with no clue in which direction you are (still) swimming—just to go somewhere!
And I had a train to catch to get to work that morning!! Oh, and see my wife and daughters again.
For the next mile (20-25 mins.) I swam by gut instinct (like Bonnie’s blind paddling) toward what I hoped was land, as well as the periodic audible reckonings from my equally lost mates
Picking up on Ishmael’s story, I felt like rather like Pip, left overboard and out of sight on the boundless ocean: “The sea had jeeringly kept his finite body up, but drowned the infinite of his soul. Not drowned entirely though. Rather carried down alive to wondrous depths, where strange shapes of the unwarped primal world glided to and fro before his passive eyes…”
… could this be the Proper Course?
No worries on leakage in(to) the warm wetsuit, though, as the Sphinx was holding tight.
And then the fog started to thin as the morning advanced. One barely discernible shore marking, and then another. Swimming now with a purpose and a line.
Sand on the feet at last!
Home before the girls had even awakened. Hot pot of coffee in the kitchen.
“How was your swim, dear?”
“Very flat water.”