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Tag: safety

Strait of Juan de Fuca, the 24-page pre-plan

[Originally published in Please Tap on the Glass at USMS Blogs on 21 July 2013.]

->> skip straight to the document <<-

This is it, my final post before the swim. Meghan and Caitlin are in town, the weather remains sunny and calm, and all indications point to a go on 28 July 2013. But we wouldn’t be able to start without the pre-plan being approved.

Last summer, I began typing up a “so you’re going to crew for me” type document to make early morning pre-swim discussions with an unfamiliar captain and crew a little easier. It is two pages and goes over what I want and expect from them on the average swim, and what they should want and expect from me. This document, along with the one-page supplement, makes up the last three pages of this swim’s pre-plan.

Early on in the planning, it became clear that the swim manager would need to have a lot written down to get across the borders and shipping lanes, so I began to draft a swim-specific pre-plan. As July approached, VTS recommended I submit a pre-plan for them to distribute to various agencies, and I was like, “easy, here it is!” They made one set of comments (thorough comments) and included emergency numbers, proper VTS procedure, and asked me to clarify some why’s and how’s. When they passed it on to the Port Angeles USCG station, USCBP, CBSA, and the Canadian Coast Guard, they got unanimous approval on the first try – something I’m told is a feat in itself.

The document is attached for your use, review, and enjoyment. It’s sections are broken up as follows:

  1. definitions; vessel details
  2. entry into Canada
  3. entry into US
  4. communications
  5. emergency numbers
  6. VTS
  7. CANPASS worksheet
  8. safety goal
  9. safety authority
  10. crew responsibilities
  11. go/no-go decision
  12. safety plan
  13. escort craft description
  14. swim rules (taken from Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association rules)
  15. current overview
  16. daily route plans with current info
  17. general crew info
  18. specific crew info.

The document can be found at my old MIMS2012 website:
http://andrewswimsmims.com/wp-conten…y-redacted.pdf

Thanks for sharing in the adventure!

Strait of Juan de Fuca, there is no ‘I’ in ‘swimming’

[Originally published in Please Tap on the Glass at USMS Blogs on 11 July 2013.]

Where are my manners! There are barely two weeks to go and I still haven’t introduced you to the most important people in the world! I’m so sorry.

No marathon swim is done alone. We all know that by now. Throughout the planning, I have been helped by many, many people, and we’ll mention them later on. Right now, I want you to meet the four people who will be on the water with me during the swim.

The Boater
By now you know the difficulty I went through with finding a boat. I believe that saga ended with a now-I-can-find-any-boat-out-there statement. So why Captain Charles M? Well, not just because he said yes, and not just because his price was reasonable, but because he convincingly reassured me his boat could handle the Strait and he knew the waters. But perhaps most importantly, I detected a hint of enthusiasm on our first phone conversation.

Captain Charles runs a boat service called The Water Limousine out of Sequim, WA. We have yet to meet in person so there isn’t much else to say, other than I’m thrilled to hear his enthusiastic response every time I call to make sure he is still interested in the swim.


The Kayaker
The Strait is not an easy thing to cross, either by swimming, in a kayak, or in a fishing boat. When I began looking for a kayaker, I knew that I’d have to have someone who is beyond seaworthy. If my kayaker gets in trouble or needs babysitting, then my safety and the success of the swim are in peril. (Next time we go out for a drink, ask me about the time I swam across the Hudson while my dad kayaked, and then ask me why I’m being picky.) Not knowing any local kayakers too well, I reached out to the Washington Kayak Club and ended up with an introduction to Steve G. His qualifications checked out, and I figured I’d be able to mold him to my liking during some practice swims.

Steve didn’t need molding. First of all, he showed up to our practice swim more prepared than I was (multiple dry bags, a GPS, his own VHF radio, etc.). Then, he just continued to impress me. After fifteen minutes and one minor comment, he stayed in the perfect spot, at the perfect speed for the rest of the four hours. I’m blown away. I feel extremely lucky to have found him. And the best part: after four hours, he offered to do another practice swim. Enthusiasm!

Steve recently completed a two-week sailing race around Vancouver Island.


The Swim Wrangler
The most important qualification of any crew member is: she brings her own “Crew” jacket. MeetMeghan P.

If the water is cold enough and severe hypothermia sets in, I need someone who can tell the difference between me saying nonsensical things, and me saying nonsensical things because I’m about to die. Meghan is the “crew” part of my Crew. She’ll be filling up my water bottles and looking after me from the boat. Not only does Meghan have her own “Crew” jacket, but she is a swimmer, she has crewed for me before (BLS2012), and she has known me since I was ten. If someone has to make the hard decision to pull my semi-conscious body out of the sea, Meghan will be able to draw that line at the right place.

Meghan recently left her home in Rhode Island after contracting what clinicians call Delayed-Onset Quarter Life Crisis. She is currently driving, camping, and hiking her way across the country. You can follow her travels on her blog. She’d better make it to Seattle on time.


The Swim Manager
With two international borders to cross, currents to contend with, and a large-scale game of Frogger being played, there needs to be someone looking after the big picture. Caitlin R. is a marathon swimmer who’s originally from Seattle, so the idea for swimming the Strait has been bouncing around her head for a while. If there is one person that would listen to all the details of the planning, it would be her. Because her interest in this swim is so much more than just a passing curiosity, she is the perfect person for this role.

Caitlin is a teacher at a Brooklyn, NY school for students with learning disabilities. She is also a marathon swimmer and keeps a blog about her swimming experiences: thowmeintheocean.com.


So there they are. If things stop going right during the swim, at least I can be sure I’ve got four good people watching after me.

(And don’t you worry. I’ll get around to thanking the huge number of people that have helped me in other capacities.)