Day 15 arrived, and we had another slightly later start. We left our venue at 6 am, which was a welcomed change, as we had to pack everything again to move to our next destination at Coffee Bay. The challenge we have been facing in the Transkei is; trying to keep our consumables like all our frozen goods and perishables cold. With load-shedding and sparse facilities, this has proven one of our many challenges. We have, sadly, lost some food as a result, but thankfully we are at a hotel in Coffee Bay that has generously included food in our stay. We are so grateful for the truly South African hospitality we have received to date.
Today, we said farewell to Warren, Nollie, Atilius and Bakkies at Mdumbe and headed out to our mark. The launch was another relatively easy one, and at the backline, we saw a female loggerhead turtle! What a great start to the day.
Off we set to our mark, 28km away. We did our routine current check, and I dived in. The current was moving at 121m per minute with a very light North Easterly puff. The conditions were ideal for a fast swim South. Sarah even jumped in for 40 minutes between feeds.
It was the smallest crew we have had to date with just Andy paddling, Frikkie as Skipper and Sarah feeding and me as the swimmer. The water was warm at 28 degrees, and the sun was shining high in the sky. It was pretty hot. I set off at a slow plod, still swimming at just over 6 minutes per km. Again, well within world record pace. My muscles were responding well to the slow pace, and within an hour, I had sufficiently warmed up.
There was slightly cooler water just a meter below the surface, and so my pace started to increase as I became more comfortable in the warm ocean with the hot sun on my back! I, sadly, stumbled across a dead squid which was awesome to see. There was also a juvenile golden trevally or pilot fish with it. We continued as my goal today was to hit 4 hours. At the 3 hour mark, I had thought we had done 3 and a half hours of swimming, so it was a bit of a rude shock to realise that I had another hour to go. Yet, I pressed on and was rewarded by some dolphins for the last 3 km/20 mins of my swim. They hung around, and Frikkie even saw some pilot whales 300m away. It seems they all travel together hunting squid and baitfish. It was an incredible way to end the day, and we left the ocean full and happy.
On route back, we came across a big drum in the water. We attempted to pull it out, but the risk of piercing the boat was too high, so, unfortunately, we left it to eventually find the shore itself.
We came into Hole in the Wall and finished the day by fulfilling a 4 year-long dream of mine. I have always wanted to swim through the Hole in the Wall! The conditions were perfect and ideal, so it was a fitting way to end an epic day out at sea.
On land, Warren, Atilius and Nollie met us and had kindly bought our trailer for us. (John had gone back to Durban for a work trip, so we were down to one vehicle). It has been super challenging trying to juggle all the moving parts, and when our vehicle sponsor pulled out at the last minute, we had to quickly scramble using vehicles from within our team. This was not ideal as team members are constantly changing, and we need at least one constant vehicle to travel with to tow our boat. However, we have to make do, and we will continue to do so as we travel.
Sarah and I finished body surfing some waves with Atilius before walking back to the launch site. We then got a lift with Warren to our new accommodation for the next 3 days (Coffee Bay Ocean View Hotel). Our stay includes delicious dinners and breakfasts! We were shown to our rooms and settled in before a buffet dinner of the most incredible food! It was a massive treat not to have to cook or wash dishes. The staff even kindly washed all my feed dishes and bottles!
We then spent the next 2 hours discussing swim options and logistics for the next few days. Andy will be leaving for another trip, and we have Wayne and Rentia arriving on Sunday from Cape Town with a vehicle, which means we are down one vehicle. Besides that, transporting food is a challenge as we have to keep it cold enough not to go off.
Everyone is exhausted. It has been a hectic two weeks. We have pushed big mileage the last week and had to move accommodation many times, which involves packing up 7 people and all the food. This is the nature of a trip like this, but it does take its toll. We are still taking this trip day by day financially. Our sponsors are still hashing out the details, so nothing is finalised. We are fully dependent on the generosity of the public to continue at this stage. As it stands, we have enough to get to East London.
In addition, there is bad weather coming. It looks like we will be hunkering down here for the next 3 days, regrouping and recouping, so by the time I swim again, I should be well-rested and rearing to go!
We have been blown away by the incredible generosity of the locals here in the Transkei and the support we have received to date. Thank you! Our biggest need is still a vehicle and financial support.
Day 15 stats:
Start time: 08:45 am
End Time: 12:45pm
Total swim time: 04hr
Pace: 41 sec/ 100m OR 9km/hour
Start location: 15km north of Mdumbe
End location: South of Hole in the Wall
Water temperature: 28 degrees
Water quality: clear with sediment blue
Sights seen: female loggerhead turtle off the boat; bottlenose dolphins, dead squid with a juvenile golden trevally or pilot fish, pilot whales spotted by skipper.
Calories: 7793 swim
Weather: light North east
Total distance covered: 338.49km