Their hearts were made of liquid sunsets

Misqouting Virginia Woolf

Inspiring start to the first stage of our two part swimming challenge. The first part is swimming from Conil to Tarifa in 16 stages followed by crossing the Strait of Gibraltar. We initiated the first part way back in pre-CV days when the world seemed to be a happier and freer place. Coming back to the exact spot where we’d left the water 3 months ago was a symbolic fresh start to new beginnings.

Rafa – 500m. off shore

In order to complete the Europe to Africa stretch we have to be able to swim at a minimum of 3,000 metres an hour for 5+ hours non-stop. If we can’t keep up the pace the organisers who coordinate with both Tangiers and Tarifa shipping will order us to be unceremoniously hauled out of the water before getting run down by a tanker whose course is unvariable once they’re in the Strait. I’ve had the advantage of swimming 2,000m. in my pool a few days a week during quarantine. Rafa has had his rooftop and a nice view! In any case we put up a spirited attempt and knocked off 2,200m. in 38 mins. A good start with the help of a push from the evening tides.

It was so amazing to be back in the sea at El Palmar especially on a calm evening with soft waves and the most perfect setting sun. We’d crossed the bay of Barbate a couple of times earlier in the week but the dunes of El Palmar and its ancient stone tower as a landmark provide a wilder and more historic backdrop to the occasion. Having said that it’s only if you take a breather that it’s really appreciated. With bi-lateral breathing on a long haul you get the benefit of the setting sun on one stroke and the beach on the other.

The next two stages take us round the corner and past Cape Trafalgar, a dangerous spot where strange currents due to the relatively shallow waters even a kilometre offshore have caused endless shipwrecks. If we are to manage the Africa swim this year we’re going to have to spend a lot more time in the water.

Our safety aids – essential kit especially as one of them has a bar of chocolate in there!