Round Bere Island – 31st August 2013 – How it all came about
Bere Island, Castletownbere, West Cork. A far away location to some, but for me, this area has fond memories. Mum is from Cahirkeem, north side of the Beara Peninsula, My grandparents (May & Jeremiah Murphy) lived there all their lives and we visited and holidayed in West Cork a lot, especially when younger.
I never appreciated the water when I was there as a Child, so now looking at the map of the area, I see things differently, apart from entering the Regattas on the August Bank Holiday weekend, I hadn’t really swam in the water there. So When I measured distances of some local swims Bere Island jumped out at me. A Few years ago I wouldn’t have dared attempt something like this, but listening to other Open Water Swimmers stories of places they have swam, I knew I had one up on them all; I had some local contacts that could help me find out more information about going around the island. Get all my information right, and I could be onto something I thought!.
And so the research started, over a year ago, talking with some Uncles and Aunts, asking some vague questions at first, which soon became more detailed when I told them what I was actually thinking!. To the best of everyone’s knowledge (and the locals would know!), no one has ever swam around Bere Island. I kept most of my planning to myself, just a handful knew I was thinking about it, I was nervous to say it out loud, firstly it’d mean I would have to do it, and secondly, someone might try and attempt it before me!. I had more questions to ask, this time I knew it would have to be from more expert people, and that would also mean that I’m saying it to non-family/friends, who might think the idea totally daft? I was willing to talk out loud. So on the August Bank holiday of this year, I knocked on the door, and walked into the local RNLI Lifeboat station in Castletownbere, about an hour later I was leaving with a date (a swim date that is!), and a boatman (to guide me!). It was now real!.
I got fantastic advice from all the crew in the RNLI, Seán is the tide man, he pinpointed exactly when I needed to go on the tide, (must be a neap tide, must swim anti-clockwise around the island, must not go on an easterly wind, must go one hour before low water to clear the harbour). Marney offered there and then to use his own rib to guide me, Paul the PR man was gathering details from me for a spiel, So there, on August Bank Holiday Monday, the plan was set, I was going to attempt to swim around Bere Island on Saturday 31st August, the first person to do so, and while doing it, raising funds for the Castletownbere RNLI.
Smiling, I left the building, plan in hand, and went for a swim locally, and ran into hundreds of compass jellyfish!. Oh God – what am I doing!
It still took a few days for it all to sink in, and finally I mustered up the courage to say it out loud to my swimming friends and to put it out there on my blog/Facebook/twitter. Within a week I had 6 people offering to come and help me out and /or crew for the day WOW, thanks everyone, I went with first offered, first taken! (While making sure I had experienced, supportive friends with me!) Thanks to Rob Bohane, Ray McArdle, and to Owen O’Keefe for volunteering and not backing out when I bombarded them with emails of maps/ feed plans etc!.
The next part of my report will be the actual swim