Monday. The sea was almost flat calm with just a slight offshore breeze at Broadsands. The really big difference in the last 10 days is that all the beach huts have been lifted into the car park for winter storage and the café has shut for the duration. I am about ½ way through my swim taking a direct route from the headland at the right of the bay towards Armchair Rock when I spot the small fishing boat heading my way. It’s a long way off there is plenty of room. The boat comes on directly at me. I angle away towards shore, The boat turns too and comes straight at me. ‘Scary Too’ is the name of the boat and she passes close by sending up a big wash. Very clearly the boat can and could see me. Maybe I was being paranoid but back on shore 4 people come up to me and confirm the boat did turn towards me and they were a lot further off than the boat and could see me clearly. I report it as a near miss to the Brixham Harbour Master. Opinion on Facebook is that I was in the wrong fro swimming without a tow float and the boat was quite within its rights to not keep a watch and/or run me down. A few more people have just dropped off my Christmas card list.
Tuesday. The wind is freshening and still westerly. I do not fancy Broadsands but the sea in the lee of Victoria Breakwater at Brixham will be sheltered. There is a hint of drizzle in the air and people wrapped in winter coats watch me head to the water. It is 16°C both in and out of the sea. The sea is smooth but there is an uneven swell which periodically slops in my face, but I am soon turning at the end of the ½ mile to the end of the breakwater and whilst I divert into more open water the swell is behind me now. A cormorant with a fish surfaces close to me. The bird has clearly never heard the phrase ‘never eat anything bigger than your own head’; it cannot possibly get the fish (a whiting I think) down. At the 3rd or 4th attempt the fish is sufficiently subdued and at the right angle and it vanishes into the bird. I am still 10 minutes out from the beach I swim on.
Wednesday. A bit of everything today. A mile swim to the end of the breakwater and back, taking full advantage of the flat calm in the lee shelter of the wall when everywhere else is white horses (proper planning that is). I collect one lost sea fishing float on the way out, but do not collect one dead sea bird. Collect a second float and one of those crab fishing lines on the way back (very useful for string and stuff in the shed). Whilst collecting the crab line a turnstone walked within a foot of me like it just didn’t care. Then gently float to within 4 feet of a white heron. Best of all, get dry, dressed and plonk into the seat of the car just as the torrential rain hit. That is perfect timing!
Thursday part1. It is very dark at 6:30 this morning under the trees and through the woods to the river. Sunrise is not for another hour yet in sharp contrast to just a few weeks ago when I was racing here to catch it over the river. The highlight of my 30 minute swim: 3 times up and back, is that the dippers have returned. At one moment there are 5 all chasing each other up and down the river zipping by me close enough that I can hear their wing beats and chirrups as they play follow the leader with barely a few inches between leader and tail. Surprisingly though the water is only 12°C I don’t have much by way of a shiver going as I stump back to the car.
Part2. They say it takes 1 month to establish a daily habit. I have been cramming in 30 to 60 minute swims nearly every day for 2 months. Habit has strayed into the territory of addiction. By mid-morning I am again looking at the weather, tide times and beach webcams. I am back in the water, the sea at Broadsands this time, by 12:30. Only a short one, just 9/10ths of a mile. I really, really, really fancy going around again, but I do not have the time.
Friday. Sarah is already sat with her feet hanging over the sea wall waiting for me when I get to Broadsands. The wind is still quite brisk but it is noticeably warmer then earlier in the week and blowing off the land has flattened out the surf to nothing more than a ripple. We swim a triangle around the bay in about 30 minutes over high tide. Whilst Sarah says she will not be swimming fast she has swum the channel and is a far more proficient swimmer than I am, as I found out when we swam practice sessions for the Dart 10k a few years ago, so I expect to be miles behind her as I am only swimming breaststroke. She swims slowly and lets me keep up, but it is faster than I swam it by myself yesterday and even the cold shower doesn’t feel so cold.