Wednesday 12 September 2012

Patrick Thomas - English Channel Swim - Saturday September 08, 2012 - 13 Hrs. 56 Mins.

Above (left to right): Me, Patrick Thomas from Cape Town, South Africa and Dave Granger (Channel Swimmer 2011) on board Anastasia in Dover Marina on Saturday September 08, 2012 - about 2:30am.

On Thursday July 26th, an e-mail came into the Channel Swimmers 'chat group' asking for crew members to hep a guy from South Africa called Patrick Thomas to swim The English Channel on the September 07-14 tide. I contacted Patrick and following some e-mail conversations, on Sunday August 12th he e-mailed me and Dave Granger to say that he would like like us to crew for him. He also said that a close family friend called Janeen De Klerk would be coming with him from South Africa. He said that she had "no swimming experience ... but is an ultra marathon runner and a very calm and settled all round person". Ideal to compliment a couple of mad Channel Swimmers then!

Patrick and I liaised over the next few weeks until he finally arrived in England. I had been tentatively telling my massage and nutrition clients about crewing in The English Channel the following week, and explained that I may have to change their appointments at the last minute due to the nature of Channel Swimming. This is why it can be difficult to get crew. You literally have to be prepared to go, food, clothes etc., drop everything, head to Dover and crew at very short notice! Not an easy task for ayone when you have work and family comitments.

Here's how the conversation went by text:-

Mon 3 Sep 2012 - 11:46 - Patrick in London: "Hi there Paul. This is my UK number. Awesome day here today :) Cheers, Patrick Thomas".

Paul: "Excellent! Spoken to Eddie [the pilot] yet? If so what's the forecast for the weekend?"

Patrick: "Hi there. Just sms-ed briefly. No discussions as yet. Thursday and Friday look great wind picks up Saturday ... Not sure there is space for two pre weather turn. Heading to Varne Ridge tomorrow and will try have a chat to him tomorrow."    
Paul: "Cool. Stand at Varne Ridge and gaze across The Channel. It's an awesome view. Sends shivers of excitement down my spine just picturing it in my mind!".

Patrick: "Cool. Can't wait. Will be in touch tomorrow evening :)".

Tue 4 Sep 2012 - 21:27 - Patrick at Varne Ridge: "Hi there. Spoke to Eddie today. He is confident 1st slot will do real early morning departure Friday. Makes me Saturday morning (EARLY) start ... Too early to read much into weather - aiming for then and updates on weather tomorrow evening. Cheers, Fatty Patty :)".

Paul: "Ok. Let's check again tomorrow. Cheers. Paul." 

Wed 5 Sep 2012 - 19:23 - Patrick at Varne Ridge: "Hi there again. Just spoke to Eddie again. Still looking OK for Saturday real early (Around 02h30) ... No definite time as yet ... But that is our goal for now :D".

Paul: "Ok cool. Will plan for that at present. Exciting!".
Thu 6 Sep 2012 - 19:26 - Patrick at Varne Ridge: "Hi there ... again. Just spoke to Eddie. We are still on for Saturday very early. To meet at Harbour at 2h3. To be confirmed again at 19h00 tomorrow. He is 90% confident of that decision :)".

I then realised that we were very likely to be on for the swim early Saturday morning, but not certain. I had a bit of a difficult decision. I had purposely not booked any appointments in for Friday (pm) and would have to chance getting to Dover for about 7pm not actually knowing if we were going to swim or not. A 145 mile drive - maybe for nothing. I packed and ensured I had my swim kit because at least I could swim in the harbour on Saturday morning if we didn't go.    

To be completed...

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