Of the locomotive breath,
Runs the all, time loser,
Headlong to his death
Steam breaking on his brow
Old Charlie stole the handle and
The train it won’t stop going
He sees his children jumping off
At stations, one by one
His woman and his best friend
He’s crawling down the corridor
On his hands and knees
Old Charlie stole the handle and
No way to slow down
He hears the silence howling
Catches angels as they fall
Has got him by the balls
He picks up Gideons Bible
Open at page one
The train won’t stop going
No way to slow down
No way to slow down
No way to slow down
No way to slow down
No way to slow down
No way to slow down
This weekend I did my first foray into cold water swimming. Where do I start ? …
As always nowadays I decided that I needed to get an introduction into cold water swimming and it needs to happen now. Luckily my planets were aligned and I had a few free days in Swakopmund during a tour.
Ingi met me there for support and I was lucky enough to have a well experienced swimmer (Rheeder) who offered to swim with me and hopefully stop me from becoming another wreck here on our Skeleton Coast.
I arrived at 3 p.m. on Friday and the others had not arrived yet. After checking into the hotel I hurriedly made my way down to the Mole (an area protected by a wave break; really like a small harbor). As you walk down to the beach you pass a signboard giving you the sea conditions. So I cockily walked down the path as people looked at me. I thought about my stroke, buoyancy, etc, … all the things to make me look like a real swimmer in front of these people (girls in bikini’s … or is that a scarf ?!).
However, as I glanced up at the info board I almost shat myself. Afternoon sea temperature 14 degrees ! Bloody hell. I had never swum that cold before – closest was 16 degrees and that was icy.
Nevertheless, I am not here to prolificate with the genus porkus. So in I went and as my chest hit the water it was like being kicked in the nut sack by an ostrich. It literally took my breath away. There was no way I was getting my face into the water. I had an instant ice-cream headache and even the metal in my tooth implants ached. The once broken bones in my hands crunched and I could take out an eye with a nipple.
I swam on and around the pontoon. As I rounded it I wondered if anyone was watching me. I then remembered Ryan’s words … don’t swim alone !
My mind did a slight hiccup and I swam back to the beach. I was on such a high when I got out I did not even feel the cold. The feeling of the blood flowing back to my extremities after it withdraws to your core to protect your vital organs is a weird but very pleasant sensation. I was a tad concerned though, as the sea was rough and cold. Not ideal for my first proper open water swim.
Thats me is there somewhere.
The Saturday morning I met up with Rheeder. He is a strong, confident man and even though the ocean looked way too rough I decided I needed to do this. He did not flinch and it was a go ! We swum out to the right of the jetty and into the current. It was tough as the water was so cold that I could not get my head under the water. So I did breaststroke initially – this sucked as I was now kind of bobbing in the water, which caused me to get seasick. So there we were – Rheeder trying to give me the thumbs up and check if I was OK and me hurling all kinds of abuse at the waves. Jeeeezz, we must have been a real sight, lol.
Luckily I had heavily buttered pancakes with honey for breakfast so they tasted great coming out too … bwahaa !
As we got close to the rocks that cause a wave to break at the entrance to the Mole it got really rough. I just wanted to get through this. We put our heads down and swam on. The waves seemed huge and I was starting to get really sick. I was trying to swim but I kept stopping to throw up … then – boom ! – it was still. We had entered the Mole and we were safe. We swam the last 200 metres to the beach. Rheeder’s wife had hot chocolate waiting for us when we got out. The sweet drink washing away the salty taste in my mouth will be a memory I will never forget. The sweet taste of success. As my feet hit the beach I felt fine. It took me 42 minutes to do 800 metres. Not exactly the Thorpedo but I was more excited that I had withstood that temperature for that long.
Needless to say I was uncontrollable for the rest of the day and Ingi had to use a shock stick to get me to bed.
Rheeder, thanks for this and being part of my journey. I look forward to our next swim. Happy swimming.
25th October 2017
This weekend we had a swimming camp in Swakopmund arranged by Ryan. We all met up on Friday at 5 p.m. for an acclimatization swim in the Mole. The water was a chilly 13.5 degrees. Everyone was really amped, especially me. I love this shit. I guess playing sport most of my younger years found me in a club environment. Unlike my Dad who enjoyed giving back and was on almost every committee I just wanted to have fun, meet new people and, well … take part . The fact we were all doing this as a group was fun. We swam 3 times around the Mole – around 1 200 metres, I guess.
My awesome swimming buddies.
After the swim Ryan said we were going to give the ‘Jetty Mile’ a go in the morning. I was pretty concerned but really, really excited. As it turns out, so was everyone.
Ryan met us at the Tiger Reef Beach Bar where we would start swimming. The sea certainly was not calm and the options were if anyone felt not ready they could swim the same distance in the protection of the Mole. As I expected from my fearless swimming friends, a total of – ZERO – pulled out. It was a go. Ryan paired us off for safety reasons. I was swimming with Karen. My new hero !!! She is such an inspiration. We jumped in the water and she was a natural. You would have thought she had been open water swimming for years. She laughed, joked and shouted support to me the whole way. I slowed her up a bit with the bloody seasickness again, but she just loved it. The only time she seemed cold was when we first got in and she could not get her face into the water. However, she had me in stitches as she swam shouting ‘ice-cream headache, ice-cream headache’ ! … bwahaa !
We took a direct line to the end of the jetty. However, the current flows at about 2 km per hour so as we got closer to the jetty we realized we might get thrown into the pylons. We put our heads down and swam hard out into the ocean (or at least it seemed like it). We were past the jetty. The water calmed down a bit and we swam on. Once again I got seasick but what ya gonna do ?!
When we got to the Mole everyone was already on the beach. The adrenalin was flowing around, making us all feel invincible. We had hot chocolate at the sidewalk café next to the beach and rabbited on about our swim. A wonderful moment !
That afternoon we practiced out ‘in’s and out’s’ … basically entering and exiting the ocean without being drowned. Turns out my bulk just makes for more square acreage for the waves to smack into. So not my most graceful moment. However, Karen was hit by a particularly big wave and she tumbled past like a rag doll. She was loving it, though, and was not going to take any shit from a wave. So she pulled off her mask and lunged at the next wave. Boom – she was through ! I think the ocean realized who it was dealing with and surrendered !
I slept the sleep of the dead that night but drifted off with a big cheesy grin on my face.
While we were there we got an update on Archie’s adventures. He went off and swam the Robben Island/CT swim in not too much over 2 hours, Well done, Archie ! an incredible achievement and time. You can’t keep a good man down, hey !
I am really struggling with the seasickness. The afternoon of the swim I was taking a nap and sleeping on my side. All of a sudden I was woken to this warm liquid running down my face. I initially thought I had a nose bleed but it was actually sea water that had got trapped in my sinuses. We had a doctor swim with us and he reckons it is water in my middle ear. So looks like I will be trying to swim with ear and nose plugs.
Another funny chap was a guy called Noodle … no idea why. He was the safety kayaker. But as I was feeling ill I was bobbing around and he asked me if I was OK. I explained I was seasick. He packed up laughing and said ‘you’ve chosen the wrong bloody sport, bro !’ … mmmmm.
It was an amazing weekend and I am so proud of us all. Thanks, Ryan !
10th, 11th, 12th November 2017
I tell you, the one thing I kinda miss about my old life was the way a good lunch could change your perspective on the day. I was born to do a pubbie. A friend even gave me a Zulu praise name called Numzanlunchie. When things got stressful … I did lunch. Actually, I got shitfaced but, hey, I needed sustenance for those endurance feats. However, that was then and this is now. So not having that crutch and realizing a large portion of the world’s population is bat shit crazy is tough. Sleep was a few hours a night and the days were long. I have got to the end of a very busy tourism season.
So the thought of a nice weekend at the Hardap Dam and taking part in the team event of the Mariental Triathlon sounded just right. Between all of us we had 2 teams and 2 individual entries. ‘Roger’s Dodgers’ and ‘Fat Kids Are Harder To Kidnap’. Lindy and Claire did it all by themselves.
The lesson for today is ‘don’t get cocky, dumbass !’
The swim was in a dam at 7:30 in the morning. This will be easy, I thought.
Le met use this analogy : If swimming in the ocean is like being attacked by a St Bernard (STRONG, POWERFUL, COMMANDING RESPECT), but slow.
Swimming in the dam today was like being attacked by a Jack Russell.
There were these 2-foot waves that continuously smacked you in the face, on and on and on and on … holy shit, they would not stop ! I could not get my breathing sorted. To be totally honest, the swim sucked.
Then again we were all in the same boat (or not) so suck it up, Chad, and tick this one off to experience.
As I am very conscious that I am the beginner here, I let the other swimmers start before I hit the water. I also had my phone with me to take photos. Literally 30 seconds before the start, the phone rang. My default reaction was to answer it. The office, of course. This flustered me a bit and then I swear there was a current in the water. I was all over the place. Zig zagging, zag zigging. (You hear about the guy who drowned in a bowl of muesli ? … he got pulled down by a strong current !)
Let’s just say this was my hardest swim yet … ‘kanst du diese scheisse glauben ?!’
The best thing about the weekend was the participants. Everyone was really chilled and friendly. From the really strong all the way through the ranks. I have started to not be so self-conscious about my body as there were all shapes, sizes, ages. Sport really is an amazing thing. People supporting each other, spurring us newbies on. It was a truly inspiring weekend. Our teams were the best … naturally ! 😉 The thing I distinctly noticed was how positive everyone was. The goings-on in the world were left behind, we laughed, ate, drank and laughed some more. Oh, yes, and did a bit of sport. I genuinely had a really good time.
The event was really well organized and they made us feel special with a goodie-bag and a medal for finishing.
We even won some money for winning our category. FYI, we were the only ones in our category ! … bwahaa … clearly time to turn pro !
Well done, Dom,Kian and Ian. Team ‘Fat Kids Are Harder To Kidnap’ – we rock !
18th November 2017
Today I have been sober for 2 years. It’s a weird feeling. It is such a big thing to me, naturally. Not so much for everyone else. Shouting it from the rooftops is not quite the right thing to do. Bwahaa. I am incredibly proud of myself. There were times that I was so desperate that I would not know where to turn. I was a passenger on a great juggernaut careening out of control. Near the end of my drinking I noticed things starting to unravel. Bumping my car, falling, forgetting things, getting into arguments and reading people the riot act when in actual fact I was just being a drunken asshole. There were many good times, of course. I have seen things that would make most therapists sob into their shoulder in the corner but I hold on to many happy memories with friends and family. There will hopefully be many more but just not with booze for me. The life I have led has now just made me stronger and my lust for life has now got even greater. I realize there is a place in this world for me and I have found my desire again.
When I started this journey it was all about the day of the swim from Robben Island. Now 9 months later it’s more about the whole experience. The wonderful people I am meeting and swimming with. The smaller swims and the rewards I get from achieving them. The transformation my body, mind and spirit is going through. The friendships I am making and the inner peace I am experiencing.
Today, 2 long years later, I am more certain than ever that I made the right choice … and kicked the habit !
Sandman Triathlon, Swakopmund : 3rd December 2017
I had a great swim !!!
I know I am a beginner, I know I have made an incredible improvement in my fitness, I know I am swimming better. However, every time I swim in an organized swim, I get hit face-on with something. It is all kinds of things. Crappy conditions, big waves, low blood sugar, seasickness, dehydration, cramping … faaark, it never seemed to stop ! I kept saying to myself, ‘it will make you stronger’.
So this time I ‘boxed clever’. The week the swim I did light swims, hydrated properly, stayed off the carbs, practiced my breathing. I went down to the beach 1 hour before the swim, watched the 1.9 km race start, did my check-in, swam a light warm-up swim and got in the zone ;-). The gun went. I smiled at Lindy and then it was all about me. I went in last and waded in waist deep. In my eagerness I started to swim too soon and my hands kept hitting the sand. Note to self … there has to be water to swim ! My right side is stronger than my left so I was a bit off target but that was the last of my worries. We had to do 3 laps of a 400 metre course. By the time I was on my second lap I knew I had this and just enjoyed the experience. I can’t tell you how many practice laps I have swum but it seems like a lot. However, the feeling of swimming in the open water, totally free on this beautiful sunny day, is a highlight of my life.
The sprint race (once around the course) participants were all gathered at the start. It is pretty hard to blend in when you are my size and I was the only person in the race doing it without a wetsuit – you could not miss me. So as I was exiting the water there was this ledge in the sand caused by the waves. As I climbed it I said to myself … ‘don’t fall’ … ‘don’t fall’ … aaahhhhh … what did I do ? Yup, straight down onto my knees ! It was not so bad, though. Fuck it, watcha gonna do ?! Turns out nobody gave a shit and they all gave me a round of applause for finishing.
It’s crazy how this shit happens to me. Lol.
Well done Roger and especially Kian who at 9 years old ran 10km!!
6th December 2017
This morning around 8 a.m. Ingi and I took Kuiseb for a walk along the beach. It was misty and overcast but the ocean was still. You could hear the seagulls and the tiny waves lapping onto the shore. We looked out at a fishing boat heading out and noticed some dolphins swimming past. They were heading north with the current. As we walked more and more appeared. The next thing they were just past the backline. I wished I had my mask with me and imagined swimming with them … hold on ! I am an open water swimmer … I can do this ! … Hell, yeah, I can do this … boooom !
I handed Ingi the dog leash and ran (for the first time in years) to the water’s edge. I whipped off my gear and dove in. There were these surfer bra’s on standup paddle boards with the pod. I shouted to them to keep them there (it seemed like the right thing to say at the time !). Then there they were, swimming past me. The water was murky so I could only see their fins as they swam by but faaark !, what an experience !
I hung onto the front of the one dude’s board and we chatted. To make things even more unbelievable he is also a recovering addict and has been clean for 5 years. He says they are here every morning around December and this is where he finds his peace. Niceonesurferbra, keep it up.
I have done a lot of damage to my body over the years. I know a six-pack is a thing of the past but I dreamed of being capable. Capable of doing something physical as and when I needed it. Now for the first time in years I feel capable. I can’t describe the happiness I feel.
For me it really is the perfect ending to an amazing year. All the hard work in all aspects of my life are paying some dividends. Life is a bunch of old toenails but it is mine and I am very happy right now. It will, of course, throw a curveball but hopefully I am better prepared for it.
Next year is going to be a big year for me, I look forward to many things. However, I am very grateful to all the loved ones, people, friends, family, staff, animals that are part of this exciting yet scary journey. If you are reading this now, I thank you for your interest and hope you have a fantastic holiday season. Chat again in the New Year.
Happy holidays, everyone, stay safe.
It’s a good life if you don’t weaken.
5 ways climate change is affecting our oceans
1. Coral bleaching
As early as 1990, coral reef expert Tom Goreau and I pointed out that mass coral bleaching events observed during the 1980’s were probably due to anomalously warm temperatures related to climate change.
Mass coral bleaching results in the starvation, shrinkage and death of the corals that support the thousands of species that live on coral reefs.
2. Fish migration
In addition, many fish species have moved toward the poles in response to ocean warming, disrupting fisheries around the world.
3. Drowning wetlands
Rising sea levels, partly the result of heat absorbed by the ocean, is also “drowning” wetlands. Wetlands normally grow vertically fast enough to keep up with sea level rise, but recently the sea has been rising too fast for wetlands to keep their blades above water.
Coral reefs and sea grass meadows are also in danger of “drowning” since they can only photosynthesize in relatively shallow water.
4. Ocean acidification
The ocean has absorbed about 30 percent of the carbon dioxide humans have sent into the atmosphere since the start of the Industrial Revolution – some 150 billion tons.
However, this great service, which has substantially slowed global warming, has been accomplished at great cost: The trend in ocean acidification is about 30 times greater than natural variation, and average surface ocean pH, the standard measure of acidity, has dropped by 0.1 unit – a highly significant increase in acidity.
This is damaging many ocean species that use calcium carbonate to form their skeletons and shells. Studies have shown that calcium carbonate formation is disrupted if water becomes too acidic.
Ocean acidification also appears to be affecting whole ecosystems, such as coral reefs, which depend on the formation of calcium carbonate to build reef structure, which in turn provides homes for reef organisms.
5. A disastrous positive feedback loop
Finally, acidification also appears to be reducing the amount of sulfur flowing out of the ocean into the atmosphere. This reduces reflection of solar radiation back into space, resulting in even more warming.
This is the kind of positive feedback loop that could result in run-away climate change – and of course, even more disastrous effects on the ocean.
Oceans are at the brink
For decades, the ocean has been absorbing carbon dioxide dumped into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. It has also absorbed a lot of the extra heat produced by elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.
But even the ocean has limits, and we are bumping up against them, with damaging consequences for the whole world.