Tony and Table Mountain

Freedom Swim part II: waiting to start

Tony and Table Mountain
Tony and Table Mountain

One of the most enjoyable parts of the Freedom Swim (from Robben Island to Blouberg, on May 3rd) was the time we spent waiting outside Murray’s Bay Harbour on Robben Island, where the swim was to begin. Once we received the all-clear to head from Granger Bay to the island, we saw that the mist only extended a short distance out to sea, and it was clear at Robben Island.

Table Mountain and Robben Island
Table Mountain and Robben Island

A motley assortment of boats – from a huge yacht to a two metre long rubber duck with a single 15hp motor, as well as some rescue boats, stand up paddle boarders, and kayakers – spent nearly an hour bobbing gently on the mirror-like ocean.

Waiting for the swim to start
Waiting for the swim to start

A festive atmosphere prevailed. In order to assist their swimmers to identify them, boats were adorned with flags, balloons, inflated papsakke, towels, and other colourful items. Stand up paddle boarders moved through the crowd of boats, and we enjoyed a strange stereo effect when radio announcements were made by the organisers.

The expensive, fancy Robben Island ferry is broken (as it seems to have been almost since the moment it went into service), so Nauticat, the seal watching boat from Hout Bay, is doing duty as one of the ferries bringing visitors to the island until a new ferry is obtained. The ferries practically handbrake turn into the harbour when they arrive, slowing down not at all, so there was a delay at the start of the swim while we waited for a ferry to complete its arrival.

The Robben Island ferry stand-in, Nauticat from Hout Bay, approaches
The Robben Island ferry stand-in, Nauticat from Hout Bay, approaches

We could hear the countdown over our VHF radio for the start of the swim for participants wearing swimsuits, and about half an hour later the wetsuit swimmers hit the water. They started inside the harbour, so it was a few minutes before the first swimmer emerged from the harbour entrance and headed for the buoy that marked the start of the course.

Many small craft waiting for the swim to start
Many small craft waiting for the swim to start

Once we had rendezvoused with our three swimmers, we were off! (Swimming happens at a pace close to walking speed, so we trawled along with just one motor at a time.)

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Clare

Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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