All in a spin – Saturday 4 July 2020

Last Monday evening it was rough but the allure was too strong and after a lovely 20 minutes playing in the waves I felt a little heady which was worse Tuesday morning but again, the addiction was too much. I was spun by a wave and WOW, my head spun so much that I had to be accompanied to my car and then sat there feeling as if I had drunk a bottle of whisky. I haven’t been swimming since but I have been reading and researching. I am pretty convinced I have something called Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) as the symptoms are identical to an article I found online. I thought it might be helpful for others to have a read.

I am seeing a chiropractor on Monday – fingers crossed! Oh and the full article can be seen here, it is 2 pages but I can only seem to show one here https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4009091/pdf/ASJSM-5-071.pdf

Weaver fish and jet skis

During the months when the water is warmer you may encounter weaver fish and of course you can’t actually see them because they bury themselves in sand / mud / light shingle ready to pounce on small prey, e.g. your feet! Although they are generally quite small (8-12cm) they do pack a sting if you tread on them. If this is something that worries you then my advice would be to wear flip-flops or sea shows into the water and then once you are in and can float, take them off, pop them up the back of your swimsuit – and hey presto! If you want to know more including what to do if you are stung, take a look at the following link https://britishseafishing.co.uk/weever-fish/ or simply ignore the link if you’d rather not know 😊

Another issue that seems to have come to the fore is that of jet skis. As ever, it is the behaviour of a few that mar it for the many, including other jet skiers. If you hire out jet skis then you need a licence from the the Isle of Wight Council (https://www.iow.gov.uk/Council/OtherServices/Licence-Pleasure-Boats/Faqs) If you own one, then please do look at the local bylaws about leaving and approaching the shore (slowly and carefully) and how far from the shore you should be before opening up to full throttle and having fun 😊

For Sandown Bay, where there are many swimmers, it is 200m from mean low water mark – all the info is available on line and for Sandown Bay – take a peek at this link https://seasaltandwriting.files.wordpress.com/2020/06/sandown-bay.pdf

Dots and mini-mountains

I think that we all appreciate just quite how lucky we are to live on this beautiful island and if you love throwing yourself into the sea then it’s just about perfect. BUT we have all been very careful and it’s quite amusing to look back at the beach and see everybody’s kit, two metres apart (mind you, for me, it’s perfect as I seem to take up at least that amount of space wherever I am – ”kit spreading?’) The ‘dots’ refers to the way spread ourselves not just two metres apart but also, in socially distanced groups, dotted along the beach at Yaverland. The sea was choppy but swimmable and we then swam towards each other and stopped within shouting distance – perfect 😊 I think there were about 15 or so people, some of whom we’d not seen since pre-lockdown and it was lovely to catch up even though I have a sore throat today from shouting!

The water is hovering around 16 degrees and after a few really flat, calm days, the waves have returned so swimming longer distances is challenging but hopefully this week the calm is set to return and we can start those lovely, long, languid swims that we enjoy. Oh and I have found an answer to the tow-flow entanglement when the wind is in the wrong direction – i put the tow float strap between my legs – seems to work.

The mini mountains refer to the naturally sculpted sand in-between the groins along Sandown Beach towards the zoo. This was the steepest, part natures beautiful and ever-changing artistic whim.

Velvety water

There’s something indefinable about being in the sea, none of us can exactly put our finger on it, like last night when the water felt soft and velvety, it was choppy but the water was like a comfy blanket, maybe it was the temperature? Who knows and to be honest, who cares! Even this morning when the waves were high due to an easterly wind the waves were soft. It does help if you go through the waves rather than try and brace yourself against them.

For the last week or so, with barely a ripple, we have been swimming up to a km in Sandown Bay,, twice a day, a good workout when the current is against you always with the knowledge that if are too tired to continue then it’s easy enough to walk back. Obviously the pull of the water changes depending on the tidal state so we can choose which way to swim. Swimming, proper swimming, wasn’t an option this morning and I was still ‘moving’ some time later 😊

As a ‘sea geek’ I keep records of almost all of my swims using Accuweather, Met Office and Channel Coastal Observatory data for Sandown Bay (not pier!) and I have finally collated this into a spreadsheet (that was fun!) and below is a graph of the air, car and sea temperatures since May last year. Very interesting (for a sea geek) that the sea temperature is relatively so stable compared to that of the air although the last couple of weeks has seen fluctuations because of the huge changes in atmospheric temperature. The general trend does show how stable the water temperature is – gives you and idea of when you need to start saving for a new wetsuit!

Shows air and sea temps from May 2019 to 11 June 2020

Sun & Sea – 27 May to 1 June

I have, somehow, been in the sea NINE times since last Wednesday and, like many sports, its the non-swim time that seems to eat the minutes; there’s the flask prep, kit check (although the kit list is rapidly diminishing as the weather warms,) drive over…then the best bit, the swim or ‘frolicking in the rollocking’ waves, the change and chat, the note-taking, drive home, dry / wash kit (no, not the wrong way round, sometimes it doesn’t need washing 😊 ) the ‘recovery’ phase depending on which way the current was flowing, how fierce and how long the swim and then always a little reflection on how wonderful it was. This is a good two to two and a half hours per swim and therefore sometimes five HOURS a day! On single dip days, I regret not double-dipping and on double-dipping days, everything else ends up a rush. BUT, it has been the one thing that has made life a little more joyous and easier to bear over the last few weeks, the ‘thing’ that is MY ‘thing,’ the exercise I can do without retribution by a slightly faltering body.

The best thing at the moment, of course, is the weather and we have enjoyed the sunniest ever period since records began according to the Met Office (https://bit.ly/sunniesteverUK) It is set to change but that won’t stop the swimming!

By the way – the 1st of June 1831 James Clark Ross located the magnetic pole.

Wed 27/5 08:15; Accuweather 180, real feel 18, wind E 18km/h gusting 20, pressure 1035.3 – high! Met Office 160 real feel 14, wind E 13km/h, gusting 18, pressure 1036. Channel Coastal Observatory wave height 0.12m, max 0.18, sea temp 14.10

Wed 27/5 18:15; Car said 180. Accuweather 180, real feel 17, wind SE 17km/h gusting 22, pressure 1034. Met Office 180, real feel 18, wind SE 6km/h gusting 20, pressure 1035. Channel Coastal Observatory wave height 0.16m, max 0.22m, sea temp 14.20.

Thur 28/5 08:00: Accuweather 170, real feel 16, wind E 28km/h gusting 33, pressure 1034.1. Met Office 140 real feel 12, wind ENE 18km/h gusting 25, pressure 1035. Channel Coastal Observatory wave height 0.42m max 0.7, sea temp 14.30

Thur 28/5 18:00; Accuweather 160 real feel 14, wind E 26km/h gusting 30, pressure 1023.7. Met Office 180 real feel 14, wind ESE 24km/h gusting 50, pressure 1030. Channel Coastal Observatory wave height 0.68m max 1.01, sea temp 14.40

Fri 29/4 08:00; Accuweather 160 real feel 15, wind W 26km/h gusting 32, pressure 1027.3. Met Office 150 real feel 13, wind E 20km/h gusting 33, pressure 1028. Channel Coastal Observatory wave height 0.64 max 1.05, sea temp 14.40.

Sat 30/5 09:00; Accuweather 190 real feel 20, wind E 24km/h gusting 30, pressure 1022.3. Met Office 190 real feel 16 (it was VERY warm!) wind ENE 14km/h gusting 22, pressure 1023. Channel Coastal Observatory wave height 0.37m max 0.63, sea temp 14.70

Sun 31/5 08:30; Accuweather 190 real feel 19, wind ENE 30km/h gusting 37, pressure 1020.2. Met Office 180 real feel 14, wind E 21km/h gusting 33, pressure 1021. Channel Coastal Observatory wave height 0.59m max 0.87, sea temp 14.80

Sun 31/5 18:00: Accuweather 210 real feel 21, wind E 17km/h gusting 20, pressure 1020. Met Office 190 real feel 16, wind ESE 19km/h gusting 42, pressure 1021. Channel Coastal Observatory wave height 0.51m max 0.84, sea temp 15.1

Mon 1/6 08:00 Accuweather 180 real feel 16, wind NNE 39km/h gusting 46, pressure 1021.1. Met Office 170 real feel 15, wind NE 14km/h, gusting 26, pressure 1022. Channel Coastal Observatory wave height 0.58m max 0.94, sea temp 14.00

Beauty and the Beach 24 – 26 May 2020

One of the things I love about sea swimming and the beach is the ever-changing nature of the landscape, more quickly than any other natural environment because of the tides. The different sand colours (the bottom of my feet were orange, the tops, mainly black, and the sides of my legs, ‘sand’ coloured yesterday) are fascinating, the ripples and height of the sand, ever-changing, the ‘holes’ that seem to appear and disappear randomly underfoot. I really must sort out my drone as from above I bet the patterns look even more stunning than those in the photo below.

Definitely back in the water now! A double-dip on Saturday, I managed to limit myself to just one on Sunday, then two Bank Holiday Monday and so far, one today although given the weather I can already hear the sea calling…….

Sunday 24/5/2020: Accuweather temp 15 degrees, real feel 12, wind W 44 km/h, gusting 54, pressure 1031 – high! Met office 14 degrees, real feel 12, wind W 23km/h, gusting 38, presser 1031. Channel Coastal Observatory 0.31m wave height, max 0.42, sea temp 13.3.

Monday 25/5/2020: Car said 210 Accuweather, 18, real feel 21, wind NE 9km/h gusting 11, pressure up to 1035.1. Met Office 150 real feel also 15, wind NE 5km/h gusting 8, pressure 1035. Channel Coastal Observatory 0.15m max 0.2, sea temp 13.5.

Monday evening: Car = 180, Accuweather 160 real feel 18, wind WSW 9km/h gusting 11, pressure 1034.9. Met Office 190 real feel 17, wind S 19 km/h gusting 23, pressure 1035. Channel Coastal Observatory wave height 0.2m max 0.28, sea temp 13.7.

Tuesday 26/5/2020 08.15 Accuweather 190, real feel 23, wind SSE 4 km/h gusting 6, pressure very high at 1036.3. Met Office 180 real feel 17, wind NNW 9 km/h gusting 11 (bizarre – probably to do with aliasing). Channel Coastal Observatory wave height NONE existent! 0.1m max 0.15, sea temp 13.8!!

I will finish putting all of the above for the last couple of years into a spreadsheet – it’s interesting for us sea-geeks!

Saturday Double Dip – 23/5/2020

It just had to be done! Choppy this morning? yes, very choppy this evening – double-dip YES! Did we enjoy it? Who on earth asks silly questions like that! We are so, so lucky to live on a beautiful island, surrounded by sea so close, with fantastic beaches. I feel as if I must make the most of every day, partly for all those who are no longer able to do so!

There are some interesting stone features at low tide opposite the zoo in Sandown Bay, not sure what they are but they look man-made, but then so do many natural features… note to self – investigate, find one of the many task lists lying around and add it to the bottom of the one that currently looks the least daunting.

Sandown Bay

08:30: Accuweather air temp 14 degrees, real feel 11, wind W 39 km/h, gusting 48, pressure 1023 mbar. Met Office 14 degrees, real feel 10, wind WSW 33 km/j, gusting 56, pressure 1023 mbar. Channel Coastal Observatory: wave height, 0.54m, max 0.74m, sea temp 13.2 degrees.

18:15: Accuweather air temp 14 degrees, real feel, 6, wind W 41 km/h, gusting 48, pressure 1025 mbar. Met Office air temp 14 degrees, real feel 11, wind WSW 32 km/h, gusting 57, pressure 1026 mbar. Channel Coastal Observatory: wave height 0.84m, max 1.09m, sea temp 13.5.

Where there are people, there is litter! 22/5/2020

A delightful, if slightly choppy, dip this morning. The water is definitely warming up and in Sandown Bay is about 13 degrees. I ponder at times why I feel such an urge to sea swim and can never quite put my finger on it. I do know that ‘problems’ seem to become ‘challenges’ post-swim. As you can see from the photos below a) tow-floats are not good camouflage; 2) I need a hairdresser; iii) I am not the world’s best photographer! 😊

Litter rant: I find it extremely difficult to understand the complete lack of care that, judging by the amount of litter, many people have. The minute people reappeared, so did quantities of rubbish (shame people don’t treat banknotes the same careless way) from beer cans to used nappies, cigarettes,, their packets and cellophane, crisp and sweet packets, dog poo (some bagged) which today amazes me. I want to say to the owners, “YOU don’t crap on the pavement (do you?) so why let your dog?” And SO much plastic that will make its way into the sea, be broken down and eventually eaten in the fish you buy from the chippy. I don’t think it has anything to do with educating people, it’s simply that they do not care and you can’t them care.

I have a bin in the car and pick up what I can, working on the premise that two wrongs don’t make a right. I doubt what I pick up makes much difference but it does make me feel morally superior to those who drop it. Just saying 😊

22/5/2020. Accuweather Temp 15, real feel 12, wind WSW, 23km/h, gusting 45, pressure 1015.7mb. Met Office temp – both the same!! Wind 23km/h, gusting 45, pressure 1015. Channel Coastal Observatory wave height 0.5m, max 0.8m, sea temp 13.1 degrees. Car – 18 degrees.

Socially Distanced Sea Swimming

Several weeks later…..after quite a few non-swimming swimming group zooms (when I remembered!) I decided to quietly slip back into the water now that we are able to do so. We’ve been going quite early and / or away from other people and have encountered only quizzical ‘rather you than me’ looks. The water is about 12.5 degrees, about 4 degrees warmer than when we last swam. My back is feeling better after a very dodgy few weeks and if you follow the link below….. what more needs to be said!

www.swimming.org/openwater/the-health-benefits-of-open-water-swimming

Better not to go alone, better to swim on an incoming tide when it’s flat and calm. Don’t forget the suntan lotion – environmentally friendly of course! Have a look at the patterns and different colours of the sands, the size of the ripples, the way the light is reflected in a myriad of ways. Enjoy the feeling of being in the water, change quickly once you are out, warm up and stay safe!

Accuweather temp 18 degrees, real feel 21, wind WSW, 9km/h, gusting 13, pressure 1022.5. Met Office 14 degrees, real feel also 14, wind ESE, 7km/h, gusting 9, pressure 1022. Channel Coastal Observatory wave height, 11cm, max 17cm, sea temp 12.8 degrees. Bliss!