I stood on the shore of the Southern Ocean this morning under a blue sky with a cool wind on my back, squinting into the sun. Cold sea water was washing over my feet and a small swell was rolling in orderly lines across the bay. I was savouring these moments and didn’t want to rush them.
I waded through the shallows then swam over the sand bar at Tuxion and under a few green waves which briefly stood tall in the offshore wind before breaking. A friend I bumped into on my walk to the beach joined me for the first 500 metres. We found our green-water distance from the shore and headed south. The water was cool and clear. The swell lines gently lifted and lowered us, something I always enjoy. Then after a short chat while treading water out from the SLSC we went our separate ways.
Hamish took some drone footage from a point midway between the SLSC and the lookout from the beach as I swam out to sea a bit and then back. I then swam north back to Tuxion, the beach at the end of my street. This return leg was a little further seaward of the sandbar because the waves were now breaking further offshore as the tide went out.
The video below (which has no soundtrack) was edited by trimming it to 1’52”. There was no editing of any other aspect of it. The colours are as the drone camera recorded them. I have also posted 10 screenshots from the drone footage which capture a few features of the swim which I found enjoyable. In sharing this video and the screenshots I hope the reader gets some insight into the joy of an ocean swim.
At around 0:50 in the video, I have paused at my turn point to enjoy the scenery. A wave passed under me as I did so. I also spent a short time (not captured on the video) before heading back to shore just floating on my back in the swell while looking at the clouds and enjoying being effortlessly suspended by the ocean, weightless, between heaven and earth. Most of my ocean swims are out and back, and in company. A bit of a chat at the turn point is an established ritual. A longer chat over coffee after the swim is an even more established ritual. Conversations over coffee among those still warming up after an ocean swim are somehow livelier and more convivial than normal coffee chat. There is truth in the ocean swimmers’ aphorism that ‘you’re only one swim away from a good mood.’
What appears to be a large dark mass of fish swimming at great speed towards me and then under me as they are chased by a large shark not visible in the shot (at about 1:20 in the video) is simply the shadow of a small cumulus cloud sailing overhead in the brisk sou’westerly.
Drone footage courtesy of Hamish Christie.
Some readers will recognise the title of this post as coming from the poem ‘Sea Fever’, published by John Masefield, the English Poet Laureate, in 1902. The first two lines of the second stanza are:
“I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;”