Skomer Swim 2022
At 7.20am on Saturday 6th August, Amanda Love and I set off from North Haven on Skomer Island to attempt to swim around the island, some 9km or so. This had been several months in the planning, and had been in my mind since 2014 when I swam to neighbouring Skokholm Island and then, two years later, swam around it. Amanda and I then swam around Ramsey Island in 2019 so Skomer just had to be done!
As well as the distance the main challenge was getting the tides and currents on our side as far as possible. Choosing a neap tide, avoiding a large swell and wind, and then working out the best time to start, and the best direction to swim in, made life a bit complicated. Luckily we had the team from the Skomer Marine Conservation Zone on our side, and after carefully examining the available charts we opted to start at low tide and swim anti-clockwise, mainly to avoid a difficult current through Little Sound (between Skomer and Middleholm).
We postponed an evening attempt on 3rd August due to the swell and wind, but the 6th August everything looked ideal and meant a 7am start so with a bit of luck we would be finished before the 10am passenger boat arrived on Skomer!
They say the best laid plans….well our skipper for the safety boat Mark is also part of the Dale Coastguard team, and he got called out at 5am! Luckily all was resolved successfully and fairly quickly so just 10 minutes later than planned he arrived in Martin’s Haven raring to go. Unfortunately the Skomer MCZ boat, which been fixed just two days before, decided to throw a strop and wouldn’t start! So Mark quickly switched to their RHIB and we got to Skomer 20 minutes later than planned where Amanda was already waiting, having taken their boat straight from Little Haven.
What can I say about the swim?
What can I say about the swim? It was fantastic just to get started, and the water was like a mill pond heading out of North Haven. We made good time to the Garland Stone to the north of the island, and it was great fun swimming between that and Skomer itself. The north-west coast from there to the Wick was a bit lumpy, but flattened off around the Mew Stone, which we couldn’t swim inside as planned as the tide was still too low.
At this point it got trickier as the tide was running pretty strongly west past the Mew Stone so we had to cane it for a bit just to get through it – for some time it seemed we weren’t making any progress which turned out to be because we weren’t! I really enjoyed it after that, we had the current with us through Little Sound and it was lovely to be on the final stretch heading westwards back into North Haven, knowing that we were going to do this after thinking about doing it for so long.
We came in just after the first passenger boat in the end, but the bonus was we had a nice reception from the slightly bemused punters!
We’d like to thank everyone who helped us achieve this, especially Mark and Kate of the Skomer MCZ, Dai Love with the second safety boat, and the Wildlife Trust staff on Skomer who even baked us cakes to welcome us at the finish. We decided to raise some funds for the Wildlife Trust’s work on Skomer, and were delighted to raise over £3,000 for the fantastic work they do there. Thank you to everyone who donated!