The fancy dress theme for this years Bestival is ‘nautical’, so it’s fitting that I’m having to learn a lot about sea navigation. As I mentioned in my previous post, the biggest obstacle in the completion of Tri for Bestival is the successful crossing of one of Europe’s busiest shipping lanes – the Solent – which separates the Isle of Wight from the mainland. It’s also the aspect that people always question – usually with the words “are you crazy?”
I plan to launch from Hurst Castle which sits at the end of a spit sticking into the strait. A few weeks ago I visited the site and discovered that it’s a stoney 30 minute walk to the end of the spit, so I’ll have to arrange for a pair of running shoes or a mountain bike to await me when I complete the bike leg.
When I reached the proposed launching point I was taken aback by the sheer ferocity of the current sweeping west out into the channel. If I could walk on water it would be like standing on a conveyer belt.
A local chap fishing for sea bass explained that we were witnessing what was close to low-tide, when it’s at it’s fastest. He went on to explain that at high-tide the water is practically motionless and will be like that for approximately two hours. By googling “solent tides” I later discovered that on Tuesday 2nd September 2013, the day that I plan to do Tri for Bestival; high-tide will be at 11:04. Essentially then; I’ll have a two hour window to complete the swim leg and clamber out of the water near Yarmouth.
Interestingly there’s no official procedure or permit for crossing the Solent. As a safety precaution and out of courtesy, I’ve been advised to notify the four local coastguards. Hopefully I won’t be calling on their services. Two kayaks will be with me guiding my crossing and I hope to have a speedboat with me for visibility to large vessels.
Taking all of this into account; the crossing is completely achievable and relatively safe. If I fail for whatever reason to get across, I’ll attempt the whole journey again the following day with the high tide at 11:37.
The only question that remains is what “nautical” fancy dress costume I’ll be wearing.