Thursday, May 31, 2012

Zembretta to Ras Edderick

It's so strange to be on standby to take on the Bering Strait, swimming from Russia to the US in water 5-8 degrees-that Anne Marie and I would be hanging out on the boats in Tunisia. Despite our 'love' of the cold water, the buzz of Ice swimming, we really are sun worshippers and suckers for challenge.
Body temps at 32deg, wrapped up under Doc supervision! 

Around the world waters change, around Ireland waters change. It's so strange, feelings, textures, emotions, heartbeat every body of water has something to say.
Tunisian water is like velvet, like delving into a bar of luxury chocolate, putting your face in the blue, green, shadows passed as clouds raced and though the wind lifted, it did not lift the water with it. At Zembretta, the boat rocked from side to side yet as the body pushed forward, there was no battle.  Both Anne Marie and I live on the west coast of Ireland. We get fairly walloped with water meeting a country after thousands of miles of rolling ocean, Water is as tough as it gets. Today was Heaven.. Zembretta is a Marine National Park in the bay of Tunis.
Pushing the Arab World to the edge.. !

We arrived early after a 1.5hr car journey which I must say was a remnant of an "are we there yet Daddy?" we laughed and arrived in super form with Lotfi.
Nejib was busy doing interviews with 3 media crews when we arrived at the customs base, surrounded by uniforms. I was the happiest of happiest with the National Garde.
"We'll change at the back of the car" Anne Marie suggested, then we broke down in laughter-
I think we were already traumatising them in insisting they manhandle us into the boats so we waited for a secure location.
Anne Marie & I holding court at the back. 
The captain and the boat were a pair that we had seen before, Mr Ben Yussef and his beautiful cruiser were an identical pair to our Mr P and the Seabreeze where we spent 2 months on the Round Ireland. Privilege- Mr Ben Yussef.
The journey out to Zembra and Zembretta was amazing.Water was conflicting the wind. The plans would need to be flexible.
Nejib starting at Zembretta
We readied for the swim. Nejib jumped in, the plan was there was no plan. Jumping into the beautiful blue waters, shadows bouncing was surreal. It lifted and fell with such power yet there was none, like a gentle giant.
The boat rocked with the motion and yet driving the arms into the water was like slicing a cake. It looked powerful but nothing.. I scanned the blue depths as this is a tuna run.. where sharks can feed off the tuna. Excited to see a tuna run-they swim mid water our visibility would be amazing. My camera at the ready always.
Yes Nejib is in there between us... !!! 
The Guarde Nationale had us in Pincer action. Happiness is.. There needed to be a plan for the boats. Anne Marie and I decided we should take over the liasing with the boats and feeding. Nejib was clearly not coming out of the water and they needed to organise. They didn't expect to be there this long. (they'd never have managed 19 hours of the North Channel)!
A member of the Garde Nationale jumped in for company. We took over the companion swimming and co-ordinated his feeding.

Always time for a committee meeting.. !! 
Route taken was Garde Nationale first, Anne Marie followed them and Nejib followed her. It was difficult to "boss" the crews, as we hadn't briefed on this but needs must, there was a large media presence, they needed more to work with visually then 5 hours of swimming.Busy boat is a happy boat for the cameras.Cameras like work..
It was the only way to finish it. I was a bit dubious initially shouting direction at the Garde nationale but it was wonderful and they accepted our experience naturally. Two tricolours tucked down the back of my speedos.. my ass certainly can not do with any more stuffing!!! The camera men must have been in hysterics.
Then they handed me a Tunisian flag on a big pole.. trying to swim with a pole!!! I used my single arm drill with my pole out front!!! Nejib after 4 hrs 40 mins, insisted on walking to the top of the hill. It was a great moment for him.
Nejib made the swim. He did and we were as happy as Larry with lovely people on board a beautiful boat, surrounded the best rescue cover, I could watch these guys all day..
The best rescue cover..could watch these guys all day..
hmm I did

This is what we do, it was wonderful to be the crews that we look to, to finish a swim. Super Day, Lotfi had some food for the road home and we insisted on eating road side with our fingers. I thought he's have a melt down as mouths were wiped with hands. He approached with water and washed our hands!!!  Big thanks to his sister in law for the roadside banquet and Hannibal TV who joined us!! and after 15 hours we fell back into our hotel room... another great day on the ocean...
The hotel opened the restaurant for us as we sat still swaying over a feast filled table of food.
Super day and super company and super water and super sunshine and super happy we fell into bed..

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