Saturday, August 17, 2013

14Aug13 - Gordon's Crossing

Before the start...RESPECT THE CHOPS!

At 2300 last night Gordon jumped onto the beach of Catalina Island and raised his arm.  He touched his toe into the water and lowered his arm.  Time has started...he is now starting a 20 mile swim across the Catalina Channel.  This is the same swim I attempted last year.  I was extremely anxious/nervous for him.  It has begun!
After 2 feeds, I was no longer able to stay awake.  My job on the boat is safety officer and 5 minutes till feed signaler.  During the night, it's extremely difficult to see anyone on board or tell anything that is going on.  You just have to focus on swimming.  My prescription sea sick patch was working and so I went under and laid down for a few hours.  When I awoke, the sun was just starting to rise our of the water and it was much easier for us to see Gordon.  I was now fully rested and ready to do my job.
First thing was first, even though the sun was rising, you HAVE to show the "morning moon" to the swimmer.  Josh helped in this.  Gordon just laughed at us.
The "Morning Moon"

During the night, a chem light being twirled would signal 5 minutes until a feed.  During the day, I had a really big and bright yellow with orange towel I would use to signal.  I decided to get creative and change how each signal was given.  Some times I just waved the towel, other times I did stuff like this..........

Even danced while wearing this!

Gordon would usually laugh.  One time he popped up and said it was better than bagpipes!  (Another boat that gets used plays the bagpipes at sunrise)
Time pressed on and Gordon started to look tired.  His stroke fell apart some and Sue and I gave him some feedback.  Sue jumped in and swam with him for 1/2 an hour.  Josh got in later and did the same.  You could tell by their stroke that Gordon was going slow and was really wearing out.
With a few miles left to go, Gordon rolled over during one of his feeds and was complaining of a serious cramp in his leg.  We all got worried.  It soon passed and he pressed on.
During this feed, his yacker had come on the boat for a quick break.  We thought the kayak was secure but someone turned around to see it floating AWAY from us.  We all FREAKED OUT!  The boat captain said we have to turn around and go get it because he can't leave the kayak in the water and he can't abandon Gordon.  We stopped Gordon and told him he had to swim back to the kayak which was only getting farther away by the second.  I immediately realized that there was no way he would catch that kayak without either:
1) adding some SERIOUS time to his swim
2) not ever catching the kayak
3) catching the kayak and then bonking completely from it and not finishing.
I KNEW that if he had to get the kayak, he would not finish.  I yelled to the captain that I was going after the kayak.  He said it was fine but I had to clear it with the observer.  I barely looked at Lynn when I "politely" told her I'm going no matter what.  (I'm glad I was wearing my speedo because I yanked my shorts and shirt off before remembering I was wearing them!)  I grabbed my fins and the kayaker tied his paddle to my left arm.  I jumped in and after one stroke, the paddle came off and was floating away.  I grabbed it then realized I'd have to swim one arm with fins to the kayak....FUN!
I'm swimming for all my worth all the while the kayak is floating farther away.  They turned Gordon around and he was headed the right direction again.  I got lost a few times and had to see where I was going and where the kayak was.  I did think that it would be REALLY embarrassing to be "lost at sea" if I never found the kayak.  I finally caught up to the kayak and then had to get in.  Getting in a kayak in the middle of the ocean while wearing nothing but a speedo and fins is a challenge!
I got in and saw the Outrider way off in the distance.  Well, if I can't catch it, at least I can get to land!  I started to paddle as best as I could and I slowly started to close the gap.  By the time I reached the boat, my arms were SHOT.  I had given 100% to catch back up.  I was told I couldn't get on the boat until the next feed which is in 5 minutes.  I paddled next to Gordon to show him I was back and the kayak was back too.  He saw me and he looked REALLY happy.  I wish I could have taken a picture of his face when he saw me.  It was clear he was worried about it.

Coming back.  That dolphin swam up to me and laughed!

Photo: Hero of the day! Goody gets back with the kayak. 
TIRED but got it back.

We were now within 30 of the landing area.  Sue, Josh, Gords' son Jacob, and I all jumped and and swam behind him once we were too close for the boat to continue.  Gordon got out and even though no one was near him, I kept yelling, STAY AWAY FROM HIM!!!  He cleared the water and the boat sounded the horn.  It was official..HE MADE IT!!!!

I was extremely happy for him.  I'll admit that I had a lot of emotions running through me that I had to hide or suppress to stay focused.  This is the same swim that I failed to complete a year ago.  I kept imagining that this is what it would have been like for me if I had finished.  I'd start to get upset about it then immediately get mad at myself.  WE AREN'T HERE FOR YOU!  WE ARE HERE FOR GORDON SO STOP BEING A CRYBABY BITCH AND FOCUS ON WHAT YOU ARE HERE FOR....HIM!!!  This process cycled a few times.
20 seconds after finish, he's not sure it's real by the look on his face.

I was extremely proud to be a part of his crew.  He thanked me for being a "lifesaver" and getting the kayak.  He too realized it would have had serious negative consequences if he had to be the one to get it.  Happy to help.  He finished at 11 hours and 50 minutes.  10 minutes under his goal.  SWEET!!
He took us all out to lunch after and then I drove home with Josh and one of Gords' sons, Austin.
What a great day and what a privilege it was to be a part of it.  Thanks Gordon and Congrats! 

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