August 12th, 2011
Up early today, it is time for another adventure, on the schedule today is packing up for the 2011 Boston Light Swim and driving down to Boston, Massachusetts for the race meeting at 4:00am. I am excited, I have recovered from the outing on Lake Champlain last week, had some great training swims in the Green River Reservior and a luxurious rest day yesterday, I am bright eyed bushy tailed and ready to go.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN….
I am determined to make the packing ordeal a little smoother this time around, I have a head start from getting much completed yesterday, this morning all I need to do is coordinate FOOD (very important ) and some money to pay Frank our boat driver for piloting the swim. Our scheduled departure time is 10:30am in order to avoid the rush hour traffic in Boston, essentially get through the Boston tunnell BEFORE 3:00pm. All is going very well as I potter around the house taking care of final details….swim gear packed, overnight bag packed, hypothermia bag packed, this is to go on the boat, if I am deemed unfit to continue swimming by the crew, they are to wrap me up with the stuff from this bag, in the bag is a blanket, towel, woollen socks, hat, sweater and warm pants, finally there is the food…a bag for today, a bag for after the swim tomorrow and a fishing pole to feed me from during the swim. All done with time to spare. Time for 30 minutes of stretching and foam roller to relax and release my muscles and then into the shower to freshen up, dressed and ready…… I still have 30 minutes to spare, BRILLIANT.
Well, I spoke too soon, the GPS Jeff and I planned to use did not materialize, thoughts of trips to past swims loom back into my head…” time for Map Quest”,I declare, I settle in front of the computer and try to rush to print directions….BAD IDEA, a rushed computer is a defiant computer and today mine slows down to a snails pace, if it could snigger and sneer it would, the faster I try to navigate the screen the more it locks up. Finally I print out directions to the hotel, directions to the race meeting and finally directions from the race meeting to the hotel, yip all the bases covered and still a few minutes to spare. I hit print and close down the screen, the printer kicks in, GREAT…… da da da, dddd, da, da, da, ddd, is the sound as the printer kicks out the paper, it then proudly kicks out a DA DA, after the last page spits out, “TERRIFIC”, I say, I swipe up the papers and put them in my ” Boston Light Swim” folder, it is then I see there is very little on the pages, you guessed it, out of ink, “NOOOOO”, I shout. Nothing to do but pull all the maps back up and email them to my phone, which I do, all the while the clock is ticking…”tick, tick, tick, enjoy the pending sit in the boston tunnel” says my watch, with an ” I told you so”, look on it’s face. What time did we leave….11:45am.
Out of town we drive and I am not too happy about the late start, poor Jeff can sense the tension in the air, a few miles pass by and I decide to evaulate the current situation, what’s the worst that can happen…. I may miss the race meeting, the meeting is mandatory, if I miss it I may not be allowed to swim, OK, if that is the worst I can handle that, if I am not permitted to swim I can still go to the race start and finish and cheer on the other swimmers, while they are out in the harbor I can swim close to shore and at get a cold water training swim in. I give it another meander over in my mind….” you know what would be worse than not being able to race tomorrow? That would be not letting this stress that I have created go, how miserable to be in a bad mood and not enjoy this time with Jeff and this next swimming adventure on the horizon, only I have the power to release myself from this twister of negative emotion that I have allowed myself to get engulfed in over the last hour”, and with that I make a mental choice, ” Enough is enough”, I think to myself, ” MOVE ON”, and I do.
So on we motor, there is a new calmness in the car, the traffic begins to thicken up as we approach the outskirts of Boston at 2:30pm, ” looks like we are going to squeak through Boston just before rush hour”, I say to Jeff, as soon as I utter the words a line of traffic appears out of nowhere and it is long, strings of cars for as far as the eyes can see, we are in a traffic jam. 2:45pm comes and goes as does 3:00pm, we make it into the Boston tunnell and 30 minutes later edge out the other side, fortunatly our exit is one of the first, exit 15, we make it and are round the turnabout and driving up to the community centre along the beach front by 3:40pm.
Jeff parks and we unwind our pretzel shaped bodies out of the car, ” I want to put my feet in”, I say to Jeff, I gather up the race notes and a bottle of water and we head over the road to the beach, ” I wonder what this will feel like, it’s been a month since I was in the cool waters of Ireland”, I say to myself, ” will my body remember?”, it does, in go my feet, ankle, knees, as much as I can without soaking my shorts, it feels great, ” welcome home”, my body says to my brain, when my senses feel the cool water, it feels NICE!
Off the beach and in to the meeting, an empty room except for 2 or 3 others ( looks like we made it in time after all), 1 by 1 swimmers and race volunteers arrive, I check in and pick up my race bag, then over for a before photo, next up the race meeting held by director Greg O’Conner, he starts off a welcome and a congratulations…” Welcome and congratulations, it is an accomplishment just being accepted to the Boston Light swim, there are only 20 of you selected, well done! “What a lovely way to put all of us at ease”, I think. Next Greg gives us some history of the Boston Light Swim, ” this is the granddaddy of Open Water swims, it is the oldest open water event in America, the first swim was held in 1907″, I listen intently honored to be a part of this historical swim, ” just think, where I swim tomorrow people have been swimming annually for the last one hundred and four years, AMAZING”
THE BOSTON LIGHT SWIM
The first documented swim took place in 1907. Over the history of the event the race course has changed, but Boston Light has always played a part. The modern swim starts in the water at the foot of Boston Light on Little Brewster Island, swimmers snake their way past the Harbor Islands and 8 miles later finish at the L Street Bathhouse in South Boston.
In 1907 during the Old Home Week celebration three men attempted the swim from the Charlestown Bridge to Boston Light. The event was a ten mile race from Charlestown Bridge, east of Governor’s Island, west of Long Island, west of George’s Island, and finishing at Little Brewster Island where the nation’s first lighthouse was built in 1716. Samuel Richards and Commodore Alfred Brown dropped out while Louis Jacot went on to win the race.
On 30 July 1908 on Boston’s Revere Beach, Annette Kellerman plunged into the ocean determined to swim to and from the Boston Light. She gave up just yards short of the thirteen-mile finish, prompting a Boston Post reporter to proclaim: ‘Annette’s wonderful swim was far from being a disgrace’. It was one year earlier that Kellerman was arrested on a Boston beach for wearing a men’s one-piece swimsuit: the publicity helped to relax laws relating to women’s swimwear.In 1909, Austrian Alois Anderle completed the Boston Lighthouse Marathon Swim. He started out with eight others following the same rout as the 1907 event. Anderle completed the last half mile in a severe thunderstorm with a time of 5:38. He was later disqualified for walking across an exposed sandbar at Nix’s Crag. The next year, 15 year old Rose Pitonof won the race with a time of 6 hours and 50 minutes. She was the first woman to compete the event. Her record stood for several years. What a history, I am in awe of the courage and strength of these pioneer swimmers, imagine going against the current of what is “proper” and taking the plunge into the ocean water.
Source: The Boston Light Swim Website www.bostonswim.org
Not only is the swim old, Greg tells us, but so is the light house, it is the oldest light house in Amercia first built in 1716 , it’s is also the last actively manned light house, ” what a fascinating place”, I think, I want to know more about this historical Brewster Ilsland and the light house that occuppies it, so I go on the hunt to find out more, here is what I uncover….
Boston Light is located on Littlle Brewster Island, located in Boston Harbor, the first lighthouse to be built on the site dates back to 1716, the current lighthouse dates from 1783, and is the second oldest working lighthouse in the US
The first keeper, George Worthlake was paid £50 a year, in 1718 he and his wife and daughter, with two men, were drowned when the lighthouse boat capsized as they were returning to the island from Boston. Young Benjamin Franklin, then a printer in Boston, wrote a ballad about the incident entitled “Lighthouse Tragedy”.
The pay of Keeper John Hayes was raised to £70 in 1718, in 1719 he asked “That a great Gun may be placed on Said Island to answer Ships in a Fogg” and one was supplied, these days the fog signal is 1 horn blast every 30 seconds.
In 1774 the British took over the island and in 1775 the harbor was blocked and the lighthouse became useless. When the British left Boston, March 17, 1776, a number of their ships remained in the harbor. Before sailing away, the British sent a boat ashore at Boston Light and left a time charge which blew up the lighthouse.
In 1783 a new lighthouse was built at a cost of £1,450, this is the lighthouse that still stands today, when it was built it was 75 feet high( in 1856 the height of the tower was raised to 98 feet) and the octagonal lantern was 15 feet high and 8 feet wide.
While Captain Tobias Cook of Cohasset was keeper in 1844 a “Spanish” cigar factory was set up on the island, with young girls brought from Boston to work in it, in an effort to deceive Boston smokers that the cigars manufactured there were imported. This business was soon broken up, however, as a fraud.
Then there were the ship wrecks, the Maritana in 1861, after 38 days sailing from Liverpool the Captain rain into heavy seas, he approached Boston in a blinding snow storm, sighted Boston Light, headed for it but crashed on shag rocks soon after, the ship slit in two crushing the captain, fragments of wreckage came ashore both sides of Little Brewster Island. In 1882 Fanny Pike went ashore on Shag Rocks also the light keeper Thomas Bates rowed out and rescued the crew.
What a history and this is a mere snippet, I am more excited than ever to swim from this light house that has seen so much history unfold, I suspect there is more history to uncover.
THE MEETING WRAPS UP
The meeting moves on, “time to talk about safety”, says Greg, he continues to talk, “now don’t let the light house harbor buoy reading fool you, it may say 66 degrees now, over night it could shift to 58 degrees, it will be cold, you will get hypothermia and some of you will not finish the swim”, “OK, no sugar coating there”, I think, I decide that tomorrow I will use speed and a good effort combined, “the faster I swim, the less time I will be in the water and the harder I work the warmer I will be able to keep my body”, done I decide, that is my race strategy, I am no longer racing others tomorrow, I am racing the elements. Greg concludes with the logistics of the course and the meeting times for the morning. With the meeting is over, Jeff and I check out the dock where we will meet Frank our pilot at 5:15am tomorrow , we then head to the car, we are both hungry and ready to relax at the Hotel, the directions say 2.2 miles distance, ” that won’t take long, will it”, I say to Jeff, and that is the second time I have made a grossly inaccurate statement today!
We get in the car at 5:00pm, there is traffic everywhere, the directions seems to say something like…” well continue on the road you are on, swerve left, then go slightly left, turn right at the street with no street name, be carefull it doesn’t really look like a street, drive straight for a bit, and you’ll see the hotel, CAN’T MISS IT” Well we did miss it and earned ourselves the prize of another trip through the dreaded Boston Tunnel, 1 hour and 45 minutes goes by, ” I need gas and to get out of this car”, announces Jeff, as I turn to look at his face I see a big pulsing vein in the side of his neck, ” Yes, what a good idea, why don’t you hop out of the car for a bit”, I reply, with that Jeff gets gas, he gets back in the car and we look at each other with a grin, ” let’s buy a GPS right now”, I say, “there’s a best buy right over there”, “right”, he says and guns it for the Best Buy, frightened shoppers scattering out of his way, ” I’ll wait in the car”, I say. A few minutes later he returns and thrusts the GPS in my lap, ” need directions?”, he asks, ” nope, I”m going to learn by doing”, I reply. I get the City, State , Street name and address in but the wretched thing will not accept the zip code, I stubbornly persist and after the 4th attempt it takes….”Calculating Route”, our new GPS friend says,” continue to frontage road”, she says, “where is frontage road”, Jeff and I say together, we drive through the parking lot, turn right, round a corner…still no frontage road, we have been driving atleast 30 seconds come on lady, show us some love, then BING, you’ve reached your final destination, I slump forward in my seat and HOWL with laughter, so hard that my tummy muscles ache from the constant muscular contraction, after the laughing eases off I look to my right, there is the hotel, like a lake in a dessert, while I was programming the GPS, the hotel was right there, just behind the fence all along next door to the Best Buy, all we had to do was LOOK UP.
We get check in, unpack and grab a steak dinner, my pre swim favourite, all through dinner we laugh at the comedy of our trip down to Boston, what a laugh it was indeed. Back in the room I go about the final details of my gear and at 9pm roll out my Yoga mat for 30 minutes of Yoga to untwist my pretzel body from all those hours folded up in the car, then into bed, I read for a bit, then set my alarm for 3:45am, lights out at 10:00pm, I am excited at the thought starting my swim at the foot of the Boston Light house and weaving in and out of the Boston Harbor Islands as I make my way to the South Boston Beach.
Will I fear better than those poor crew wrecked at sea in the 1800s, I’ll keep you posted.
The real way to enjoy life is as a participant