Lost Boat and an Easterly Wind: Presipe to Swanlake Bay

Tuesday 22nd August

The weather hasn’t been in our favour this last week. High swells and strong winds. Storms and generally not really great for swimming.

After a couple of days, we walked round to Presipe to check on the boat, only to find it was gone. No boat, no oars, no lifejackets… and no fishing gear. All washed away by the spring tide. B**ger!

Luckily we had contingencies! But that’ll teach us to be more careful about where we leave the boat. It also meant taking the spare boat down very steep steps to Presipe beach.

I kept my eye on the sea conditions and there was a window on Tuesday when there was an easterly wind, still quite strong and the swell pretty high, but I hoped that the wind would make it easy to get along the headland from Presipe to Manorbier. (Ever hopeful!)

Kani, Eira and Patrick are now staying with us in Swanlake Bay, and Kani offered to walk along the headland with her eye on us, as we now have no radio.

Patrick began the swim with me, and we headed out into the sea, with the easterly wind behind us, and it soon became clear that having the wind behind us wasn’t that straightforward. Although it was heading in the right direction, it pushed our visibility floats over our heads making it really hard to swim, getting caught in our arms and every time I turned to breathe, the float was in the way. Really hard to sight as well.

We made good headway though, and reached the headland within about 40 minutes. With the unpredictable sea conditions, I’ve been worried about whether we’d be able to finish the swim, so we decided that instead of stopping at Manorbier, we would carry on to Swanlake Bay.

But getting to the headland was one thing, getting past it was another. The waves were huge and I could feel the tide turn. There was a point at which it felt like we were going nowhere.

Dan and Eira had taken sea sickness tablets so they were much happier this time bouncing over the waves.

For Patrick and I, though, it was demoralising swimming and swimming and making apparently no progress. It was a case of head down and just keep swimming, battling against the big swell.

Once I’d started getting some way towards the other side of the wide Manorbier Bay I looked up and couldn’t see anyone, no boat, no Patrick. Although the photos don’t really show it, the swell was too high to see above the waves, so I had to wait for a big wave to lift me up so I could see. I spotted the boat in the distance. Upright, and two figures in it. I’d had this situation before of being worried about them which really affected my swimming. So I trusted they were all together, probably Patrick and Eira swapping over. With Kani on the headland and direct access to the Coastguard, I figured they were okay.


I knew that Swanlake Bay was around the headland, and that once around the rocky outcrop it would be easy. But it was slow. The waves were hitting the rocks and we had to swim out to sea in order to avoid the risk of being washed against them. I switched to breast stoke. Much easier to see. And then suddenly the boat appeared with Patrick and Dan. Eira was in the water and had ditched the float. I was relieved to see them.

But having stopped, I found I’d been pulled back to Manorbier Bay. The demoralisation made me feel tired and cold all of a sudden, and I just wanted to get it over with. But determined to reach Swanlake Bay!

Finally we got round the headland, into much calmer water and so much warmer. Full of jellyfish though! The visibility was great, you could see the sand ripples at the bottom of the sea. My left hand had ‘claw-hand’ from the cold, where the fingers separate in the middle and you can’t get an easy grip on the water. The whole swim had been 2 hours, 40 minutes for about 3.5 kms.  But it was lovely to swim into Swanlake Bay – it felt like coming home.

This is one of Rache’s favourite beaches. I placed a pebble on the rocks where she used to sit.

And we went up to the field where Kani had already started cooking up a lovely hot lunch for us.

She said that lots of people had stopped to ask her what we were doing, and one group handed her some sponsorship money  – thank you! – We should have had a walker on each leg of the swim. I checked my sponsorship page and discovered that a Ben and Isa found one of my pebbles in Saundersfoot and sponsored me. Thank you!

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