Cook Strait Swim, New Zealand

Friday, August 30, 2013

Results on my North Channel swim

Yesterday, I started my swim from Donaghadee, Ireland at 5:07 a.m (time zone in Ireland). My escort boat pilot was the great Quinton Nelson and his crew.  Also on board was Sheena Paterson, Vice President of the Irish Long Distance Association, and my experienced crew, my brother David and his wife Jeannie. Also, I hired an expert kayaker Conleth McCambridge. The air temp was 60 degrees F. and water temp was 59 degrees F. I found the water temp and air temp to be better than I expected. Within 5 minutes I was stung by a Lion's Mane jellyfish. I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't find their sting very painful. On a scale of 1 to 10. With # 1 scale being mild pain and # 10 being excruciating pain. I gave my sting # 1. The largest jellyfish I saw had a dome the size of a dinner plate and their tentacles were about five feet in length. I saw thousands of jellyfish one foot to three feet below the surface. My crew reported only a few floating at the surface of the water. The jellyfish were actually beautiful. I saw thousands with a few very small one. I thought they were their offspring. They were awfully cute but their sting was equal to the larger ones. I was stung over every inch of my body. During my swim, I tried a lower carbohydrate diet and it worked very well. A few hours into my swim, I was startled by a large grey object below me.  Then it suddenly came toward me in great speed. It was a curious and friendly seal. We were face to face about two feet apart. I smiled at the seal and then it left. I then started with episodes of vomiting and dry heaves from the smell of diesel fumes. During these episodes, I swam the backstroke. The currents were very strong and I was pushed back a few miles off course . After swimming for 16 hours, I noticed that I was starting to develop hypothermia which was evident with my small finger cramping and my fingers were separating. I alerted my crew who are well trained in this potential crisis. After 16 hours and 43 minutes I was less than one mile from the finish line. I had no doubt that I was going to finish and claim a world record for the oldest person to successfully swim it. But then, tidal flow changed and I was being pushed backwards due to very strong currents. As a slow swimmer, it was a disadvantage. My boat pilot, channel official, and crew said that I needed to stop my swim due to outgoing current pulling me away from Scotland. At first I argued with them that I would continue swimming until the tide changed a few hours later. However, they saw that my hypothermia was worsening. But I quickly realized that they were observing me and I needed to respect their decision. It was a correct decision to stop my swim. I quickly went into the stage of moderate hypothermia. My crew was well trained in dealing with hypothermia. They quickly dried me off and placed two sets of LL Bean thermal underwear. Then applied several hot packs in my groin, armpit, and neck. Then they applied my L.L. Bean fleece jacket and gortex jacket. I was shivering beyond words. And, to think I never felt cold in the water. Again, hypothermia can set in quickly. I can't thank my crew enough for recognizing it. And naturally I felt disappointed not reaching the finish line, but that comes with the territory of marathon swimming. But I learned so much about myself...I have determination beyond words, at the age of 62 I have more endurance that I never imagined possible, and my love of open water swimming continues to grow. I would like to thank my crew for their incredible job, my boat pilot Quinton for his honesty and great piloting skills and his crew did a great job, too. Many thanks to to my kayaker Conleth McCambridge, my ILDSA official for her support, a special thank you to my family , friends, and co-workers for their support. It was greatly appreciated. Now onward to my next adventure of swimming Cook Strait in New Zealand. Thank you everyone.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

No finish today.


SWIM UPDATE:
Pat Gallant-Charette's crew reports she had to be pulled unable to break thru current She is OK but very cold. She is alert and oriented. We have wrapped her up and have heating pads in strategic locations

Over 16 hours and still swimming...


SWIM UPDATE:
Pat Gallant-Charette's crew reports Pat is stuck in a current with very little progress. 

The sun has set, but Pat swims on and on and on....

SWIM UPDATE:
The sun has set on Pat Gallant-Charette, but she swims on. 
The crew reports the temp is dropping fast. Keeping our fingers & toes crossed that tide & currents stay favorable.

Pat says she is feeling some effect of hypothermia. She has been in 59 degree water for 15 1/2 hours. The crew says they have a plan in place to treat hypothermia for when she finishes...they are still pulling for a finish. 

2.7 miles to go....


SWIM UPDATE:
Pat Gallant-Charette is still giving it her all. The sun is going down. Calm seas just strong currents. 2.7 miles to go!!!!!

Picking up the pace...


SWIM UPDATE:
Pat Gallant-Charette's crew reported that she has increased her stroke count from 56 to 68..... she knows time is running out that is why she has picked up the pace. Still looking great. The current is now pushing her to the North.
Keep your fingers crossed!

Closing in on the finish....

SWIM UPDATE:
Pat Gallant-Charette's crew reports 5 miles to go!

7 miles to go.....

Pat is 7 miles away from finishing her North Channel crossing!!!!

1/2 way across the North Channel


SWIM UPDATE:
Pat Gallant-Charette's crew reports she 1/2 way across the North Channel and looking good! 

WoooooHooooo!

Crew reports water/weather conditions still great


SWIM UPDATE:
Pat Gallant-Charette's crew reports that water conditions are great... calm and no wind. They will be heading into a strong current shortly that could take us them off course.

7 hours in and swimming strong

Pat started her swim 8.29.13 at 5:07a.m. (12:07a.m. EST) in Ireland to attempt the crossing of the North Channel to Scotland. She is 7 hours into her swim and still looking good & strong. Water temp is 59.5 degrees and conditions are looking promising. She is not quite to the 1/2 way mark of the swim.

Pat started her swim!

Pat started her swim approximately 5 1/2 hours ago. At one point seals were swimming around her & poking their heads up looking on curiously as she was swimming. The sea is calm and there is very little wind.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

It's a go, again!

It's a go! I will be starting my swim of the North channel in about 8 hours.   My crew member Jeannie will send text messages to my daughter to post on my blog.  I do not have a spot tracker.  Again, I hope improved weather conditions prevail.  Many thanks to everyone for sending messages of encouragement and support.....it's greatly appreciated.

Cancelled swim

My crew and I arrived at the boat dock early this morning and conditions were not favorable for a swim.  My swim was cancelled for today.  Hopefully the weather will improve for tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

North Channel swim .....It's a go!

It's a go for my swim attempt of the North Channel.  I will start my swim from Donaghadee, Ireland at 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday.  With time zone change of five hours, my swim start Tuesday night at 11:30 p.m (Maine).  Water temperature is about 56 degrees with overcast skies.  Air temperature is about 60 degrees.  My boat pilot Quinton Nelson took a swimmer out today and stopped after seven hours of swimming due to hypothermia.  This swim will be my most difficult swim of the Ocean's Seven.  Tides are a major problem off the coast of Scotland.  I will need Mother Nature to be on my side to reach Scotland.  I would like to thank my crew David and Jeannie Gallant for everything they have done. It's a team effort for a swimmer to succeed.  Also, I would to thank my husband and children for being so supportive.  And, a special thank you to all my wonderful co-workers.  And finally, I want to thank everyone from my hometown of Westbrook and the people from Maine for sending words of encouragement. I greatly appreciate it.  My daughter will place posting on my blog with updates.  After completion of my swim, I will post an update within 24 hours.   Thank you again for your support.

Monday, August 26, 2013

North Channel swim

Today I spoke with my boat pilot Quinton Nelson and he said that weather and currents are looking good for a swim on Tuesday at 11:30 p.m (EST Maine).  With time zone change in Ireland, my swim will start at 4:30 a.m on Wednesday.   The water temperature is in the fifties and I feel comfortable with that temperature.  My biggest concern is the problem with Lion's Mane jellyfish.  I have seen several during my swim training but I have not been stung.  I hope they stay their distance.  I will post an update tomorrow after I receive final confirmation on the weather report. Keeping my fingers crossed for perfect conditions.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Message in a Bottle....love, hope, and happiness.

In my final preparation for my swim of the North Channel in Ireland, I went for a two hour swim here in Maine with my good friend Yoko.  As we swam parallel to the shoreline, I suddenly noticed something bobbing in the water.  I was intrigued.  As I swam, my curiosity peaked. It was a bottle....not just any bottle. There was a message in this bottle. Suddenly I felt like a young child finding a hidden treasure.  I was so excited to see a paper scroll with a tiny purple ribbon carefully placed inside this bottle.  Yoko and I looked in amazement and wondered where did this special bottle travel from.  We joked that maybe someone threw it off the Old Orchard Beach Pier only a half-mile away.  Then, we though it may have traveled from a distant shore. The bottle was tightly sealed with cork and wax.   As we reached the beach, many beach goers were intrigued, too.  Many children were guessing what the message said.  I decided to contact my local newspaper so they could enjoy sharing this heart warming treasure with their readers.  Little did we know, the message we were about to read was not from a tourist, or a young school-age child, or someone from a far-away land.  As I removed the scroll from the bottle, I was surrounded by many tourist and beach goers.  Many parents and their children stood nearby as I began to read this message:   "To our Baby Bear,   We are finding it very difficult to put into words our hopes and dreams for you.  But even harder to imagine the person you will grow up to become.  All we can really wish for is that you are born into this world healthy, strong and that we are well enough equipped to guide you throughout your life, in every way you may need us as parents. You are sure to teach us as much about this world as we teach you.  We promise to be patient and kind when you hit the many rough patches you are sure to have to endure when reaching for your goals; supportive when we may not see eye to eye; because you will always be our baby boy.  There is always something special about a first in life, and you will always be our first child, our first real learning experience, our first priority, and our first reason to want to be the best parents we could ever be.  But in the end our biggest wish is that you find all the happiness in your own life, as much you have brought to ours.    Love always, your parents "
   I omitted the name of the parents.  Their message to their son is sincere and heartfelt. I don't know who they are or where they live but they have deeply touched me with their profoud message to their son.  I will always treasure finding their "message in a bottle" as one of the most cherished moments in my marathon swim career.
I hope one day to meet them and let them know how much they touched my life.   I hope they read this posting and  contact me.  Thank you.   email:  patgallant.charette@gmail.com

Friday, August 9, 2013

North Channel Swim....Here we come!

My crew and I will be heading to Ireland in two weeks to attempt my fifth swim of the Oceans Seven Challenge. I've already completed four of the solo swims:  English Channel (England to France), Strait of Gibraltar (Spain to Africa), Catalina Channel (California) and the Tsugaru Strait (Japan). For the North Channel swim, I will have a one week slot with my boat pilot Quinton Nelson. I will start my swim from Donaghadee, Ireland and swim 21 miles to Portpatrick, Scotland.  My slot is from August 27 to September 2, 2013.  The North Channel will be my most difficult swim so far.  The Irish Sea is known for their heavy seas, very cold water temperatures, and marine life.  My biggest concern is the growing problem of jellyfish in the North Channel.  Lion's mane jellyfish is the largest known species of jellyfish.  Their body can be up to eight feet in diameter with tentacles over 120 feet long.  These jelly fish are known to travel in large numbers. Their stings are extremely painful but usually not fatal.  My crew (brother David and his wife Jeannie) are both in the medical field and they are well trained to deal with any crisis that may arise.  During this swim there will be a unique set of challenges----- possible hypothermia and severe jellyfish stings.  We have carefully planned a detailed response to each potential problem.  At the age of 62, I feel strong and healthy. I continue to work 32 hours a week as a nurse and help care for my young grandchildren 40+ hours per week (ages 5, 2, and 1).  I am very fortunate to have a great husband who supports my dream of completing the Ocean's Seven Challenge.  Also, my children, Sarah and Tom, continue with their ongoing love and support.  I want to thank my swim training partner, Yoko Aoshima, for her dedication to the sport of open water swimming.  She has inspired me with her determination and great love of open water swimming. Yoko did not know how to swim five years ago.  Now, she's a fast and talented open water swimmer. She's an amazing athlete!
 If mother nature is on my side, I feel very confident that I have the ability to reach Scotland in approximately 18 hours. It is possible that I may set a record for the oldest swimmer.  Crew member Jeannie will send text messages from the boat to my daughter Sarah who will place updated postings on my blog "Pat's Channel Swim". This swim will be an adventure of a lifetime...I'm greatly looking forward to it.