There is a strengthening north-easterly breeze, it’s low tide and I would ideally like to find a sheltered spot in the sunshine. The possibilities dwindle rapidly. On a big spring tide the water vanishes out of sight on most of the Torbay beaches and becomes very shallow and additionally at low tide many of the beaches are rocks rather than sand. Of course I could swim off a headland but with the wind fetching the waves onto them that makes things tricky.
Newfoundland Cove would be perfect, but so far of my 100 swims I have managed just 11 so I am also not keen to start doubling up. Dum-di-dum. Really there is no choice to make, there is only one place to go, but actually it’s not a bad call.
From the top of the steps at St Mary’s Bay I can see Durl Head (aka Durl Rock) poking tall out of the water. The sea looks calmer over there, the rock is in full sunshine and Berry Head should be taking out the breeze. Swim #12 is go!
From the foot of the cliff the sea is quite exciting. On the windward side of the headland the sea is chopping and churning with white horses tumbling in every direction. Every now and then a wave breaks against the rocks and flings a sheet of water onto the headland. On the leeward side it is not exactly flat calm, I wait a moment, there is a calm slot after a bigger wave and I slither down through the kelp and into the water, kicking quickly away from the rocks.
Swimming cautiously into more open water I can see around the end of the headland and straight into the oncoming swell which is much bigger out here. The wave crests come close together, up and down, and every now and then a wave with a little extra towers and rolls over in racing white foam.
The sunshine barely takes the edge off the chill breeze but it does magnificently light up the cliffs and their fascinating geology. There are several large caves under there but this is not the day to be in an enclosed space with this swell. They are well worth a look on a calm day though.
The tide must have turned, the waves have got noticeably bigger. Back where I got in it seems like almost every wave is now flinging water over the rocks, right over the rocks, splashing down heavily on my side. This is wild and I could stay longer but I have very cold toes today, painfully cold, odd the way it goes one day to the next.
Now for out, just like getting in, wait for it, wait, go now!