Hurricane Earl came and went seemingly without so much as lifting a ripple on the surface of the water of Cold Spring Harbor...The most threatening thing we'd encountered this week as the Category 4 storm made its way up the coast was a pair of angry swans who, unprovoked, chased us up the beach and around the bathhouse Thursday morning! On Friday morning -- when Long Island was expected to begin to feel the storm's effects -- the water at West Neck was its usual calm, unruffled self, and throughout the day the expected wind and rain never materialized. By Saturday morning, with Hurricane Earl now reduced to a Category 1 storm and already making its way past Massachusetts, there seemed no reason to expect that the conditions at West Neck would be any different.
So the 16 swimmers who arrived at West Neck Beach this morning for an 8:00 swim (including a number of displaced "poolies" from the closed-for-Labor-Day-weekend "Y") were surprised to find the harbor a white-capped, oceanic tempest! A fierce westerly wind was whipping across the harbor and driving huge, rolling waves onto the beach.
Undaunted (well, maybe a little daunted), we set out along the Causeway, heading for the sailboat mooring (the sailboat itself having left for calmer waters). The going was very rough, and we were battered mercilessly by the crashing waves, which repeatedly hurled us to the crest then dropped us down into the trough below. Sighting was all but impossible, and fellow swimmers were visible to one another only in the rare moments when both were atop the crest of a wave. Despite the punishment, it was thrilling and exhilarating -- though not so much that this swimmer felt the need to endure it all the way out to the mooring! Joined by a handful of like-minded Pod-ites, we stopped at the halfway point, where, finding floating in the maelstrom much easier than swimming, we bobbed around like corks, schmoozing with one another and Tommy Capobianco, who stopped his car and hailed us from the Causeway! The hardier (foolhardier?) of the lot continued on to the mooring and back, but even "The Pod-Father" Rob Martell conceded that he is feeling a little sore and beat up by the experience!
Returning to the beach, we found ourselves reluctant to leave the still-roiling water...Like the roller coaster, just because it makes us scream doesn't mean we don't want to ride it again!
Plans are afoot for another "Big Swim," possibly for tomorrow and/or Monday (Labor Day). Details will be posted on the Blog and "The Water-Log" e-mail list....See you in the Salt!
DISCLAIMER: Open-water swimming is inherently dangerous. Open-water swimmers risk drowning, hypothermia, hyperthermia, heart attacks, panic attacks, cramping, jelly fish stings, fish bites, boat or jet-ski collisions, collisions with floating or submerged objects (including other swimmers), and other calamities that can be injurious, disabling or fatal! The "West Neck Pod" is an informal association of open-water swimmers who swim "outside the lines" with no lifeguard protection, it has no formal membership, organizational structure or legal identity, and its participants, including the author of this blog, make no representations and assume no liability with respect to its group open-water swims. All swimmers who participate in West Neck Pod group open-water swims do so at their own risk. Be careful out there!