DNOWS Header

Image Map

Monday, December 12, 2016

Hombre De Hielo Churning Of Conflicting Currents

Report by Lewis Pugh (nicknamed Hombre De Hielo or Ice Man by the local media), photography by Kelvin Trautman around Chile's Cape Horn 56° South.

Today we experienced [failure]. And yes, there were lessons learned.

Lesson one: avoid multiple mission objectives.

That's not always easy, when you find yourself in a spectacular part of the world, with an ace photographer and the kind of weather conditions that come about less than once in a blue moon.

Today we found ourselves at Cape Horn, infamous site of shipwrecks that claimed so many brave sailors as they tried to round South America's tip. There is a church at the top of the promontory where today sailors can still petition their protectors to send favourable conditions. And today they did.

The wind was light, the swell was gentle, the air and water temperature both a comfortable 7°C. I couldn't have asked for better conditions in which to swim around Cape Horn.

The plan was to complete a one kilometre swim around the famous landmark, and take photographs at the same time. Two mission objectives that should have both been achievable.

The conditions may have been about as benign as you get at Cape Horn, but that didn't mean there weren't challenges. The Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet here, so the sea churns with competing currents. That makes it hard for me to see where I'm going.

It also creates an upwelling of nutrients, which makes the sea life incredibly rich. This is a wonderful thing. When you're in the water it’s literally bubbling with life.

We could also hear some large sea lions barking from the rocks. I had a close call some years ago with a sea lion in Campbell Island, and I'm not keen to repeat the experience. So photographer Kelvin Trautman, who was in the water with me, kept an eye out for hungry seals – joking that at least he had a drysuit on, and a camera to ward them off with if needs be!

As always, he got the great shots.

I swam back to the support boat, and returned to the ship to warm up. It was only after I was back on board and in dry clothes that I was told we had only done an 850m swim. In all the excitement, we'd measured the distance wrong.

I could have shrugged it off and left it at that. The last thing I wanted was to get back into that water. But it's a matter of integrity. The chance to do a long-distance swim around Cape Horn is a rare privilege, and 850 metres would certainly not qualify.

There was only one thing for it. I had to go out and do the swim again.

We finished the second swim, and regrouped.

Here's our take-out from today: The bigger the danger, the simpler the operations need to be, and the fewer the mission objectives. As we head further south, the layers of risk add up. If there had to be a do-over, I'm grateful that it was here at Cape Horn, and in such rare favourable conditions.

And I suppose that when I am an old man it will be fun to say that I once swum around Cape Horn twice - in one day.

For more information about Pugh's adventures and missions, visit www.lewispugh.com and @LewisPugh.

Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you very much for your interest in the world of open water swimming.

World Open Water Swimming Association

A Thank You Gift from WOWSA

WOWSA is celebrating the
1-Year Anniversary of the monthly Open Water Swimming Magazine
by giving you a free copy of the anniversary issue.

Open Water Swimming Magazine Anniversary Issue
File Size: 13MB


Download the file to your computer, and then right-click to extract the magazine which is inside the zip folder. The magazine is in PDF format.

CLICK HERE to download your free copy now.

Open Water Swimming Magazine

Open Water Swimming Magazine

The Open Water Swimming Magazine is the monthly magazine entirely focused on open water swimming heroes and heroines of every age, ability, and background. Published by the World Open Water Swimming Association, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a free benefit to WOWSA members.

WOWSA Member Benefits include 12 issues of the Open Water Swimming Magazine, the annual 276-page Open Water Swimming Almanac, a free listing in Sponsor My Swim, outstanding product discounts from FINIS, an entry in Openwaterpedia and more...

The Other Shore

The Other Shore follows world record holder and legendary swimmer Diana Nyad as she comes out of a thirty-year retirement to re-attempt an elusive dream: swimming 103 miles non-stop from Cuba to Florida without the use of a shark cage. Her past and present collide in her obsession with a feat that nobody has ever accomplished. At the edge of The Devil’s Triangle, tropical storms, sharks, venomous jellyfish, and one of the strongest ocean currents in the world, all prove to be life-threatening realities. Timothy Wheeler’s documentary brings Diana Nyad’s extraordinary adventure to life as Diana sets out to prove that will and determination are all you need to make the unimaginable possible.

2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac

An Almanac for Open Water Swimming

An almanac is essentially a body of knowledge which is so complete that it enables people in different fields to make predictions about the future of their respective industries.

This, for example, was the purpose of the traditional farmers almanacs. It enabled farmers to determine as accurately as possible which crops to plant for the greatest harvests in a given year.

But the farmers almanac was just one example among many.
There are, of course, many different kinds of almanacs.

In fact, there is even one for open water swimming...

Preview the Open Water Swimming Almanac:

The trends are very clear.
The tide is rising for open water swimming.


Open Water Swimming Event Sanctioning

World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation

Open Water Race Calendar

Coaches Education Program