Tuesday was a whirlwind of hurry up and wait. We left the house at about 9:45, to drive to Punta Delgada. We had been told that the swim would start around 12 – slack tide was anticipated to be at 2:13pm. So we met with Sergeant-Captain Victor Perkins and learned that the winds had picked up to about 30 knots, and were not ideal for the crossing at that time. The Navy was not comfortable with those winds, but was optimistic that they would die down in time.
The goal was to get in the water 30 minutes before the slack tide. That would mean about 30 minutes of swimming to get to the center channel, and then 30 minutes of slack through what is usually the fastest flowing section of water. If we missed the slack – it would be a long, extremely hard swim.
Winds started to improve, and we were told to be ready to jump at any time – so everyone got ready – me and the Argentinians in our wetsuits, and Madhu in his speedo ☺
We go the word – 10 minutes and we go! The Navy ship escorts made their way in – but I noticed that there were no Zodiak’s – which were of course critical – but they were not off of the boats yet – so what was going on? Well – what was going on is that the winds did not die down enough – and did not show signs of declining. The zodiak’s were pretty small… and the water was too rough for them. Just as we were all mentally prepared for the crossing – it was called off for our afternoon window.
Now – I will not pretend to have any clue about what was going through Madhu’s mind – I can only explain from my perspective. For me – I was 100% ready and focused to execute my role – to ensure Madhu was safe on his swim from beside him on the zodiac, and to get some video and camera footage to share with all of you, and to encourage, goad, yell, scream, turn a deaf ear to complaints about the cold and generally do everything I could to ensure that Madhu safely completed his crossing. When you are in that frame of mind, and then have to turn it off – it is difficult ad disconcerting. The process for me to get INTO that frame of mind started the night before when we had the green light, so getting a red light was like going 100km/hr in a car to a dead stop in an instant – jarring!
We were told that we may be able to go later that afternoon, at the next slack. That meant that for the next 4 hours we had to try and stay focused, refuel, and relax – and we tried to do that.
The winds did not diminish all afternoon, and when the next window approached there was cautious optimism, but I think it was clear to everyone that today was not the day. It was actually a blessing in disguise that the swim did not proceed – no one was focused enough, or ready to go – it would have made a difficult swim that much harder to complete under those mental conditions.
So we headed home, with the knowledge that our next window was 7am the next morning – which meant a 5am departure from Punta Arenas. So we napped our way home, had some dinner (all night meals seem to be later here – after 10pm for each one so far!) and headed to our beds to try again tomorrow.