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Clarence Strait, Alaska – A dip into the unknown

July 2, 2010

Posting to the blog has been few and far between as many of you have pointed out to me.  I’m sorry for my lack of communication.  Rest assured during the time between Cook Strait and today, I’ve been keeping myself occupied in the water.

I find myself off on another adventure.  This time I’m in Ketchikan, Alaska to attempt Clarence Strait.  Over the years of coming up to swim Pennock Island challenge, I’ve gotten to know Willie Schulz and his wonderful family.  Over the past few years, Willie commented that he always wanted to swim Clarence Strait from Revilligegado Island to Prince of Wales Island.  (FYI – Ketchikan is on Revilligegado.)  Last year, I talked with Willie and we decided to give the swim a go.  The tide is lined up for July 3rd – July 7th.  The point to point distance is around 15 miles.  Willie and I will both be making the attempt.  We have two escort boats lined up with support kayakers.  One boat for each of us.  There was concern around trying to have us both swim off of one escort boat.  I believe that Willie made the right choice.  Since the swim has never been done before Willie and I are in a little bit of uncharted swimming territory.  It makes this adventure exciting and scary all at the same time.  There is no one to lean on to learn from their experiences.  I guess in this situation Willie and I are the pioneers. 

I landed last evening in Ketchikan and on the way to the Schulz residence we saw the orcas.  There were 6 of them playing around in the water.  I’ve always wanted to see the orcas in the wild.  However, I of course wanted to see them in very specific conditions.  1.  I wanted to not be in the water with them.  2. I would prefer to see them after my swim ended.  3.  I wanted them to be very full!  I have to say that I believe that 1 &3 were satisfied.  These whales are amazing!  Gorgeous, majestic, graceful.  They took my breath away.  I’m taking their appearace as a good omen for the swim.  Shortly after the orcas a bald eagle flew over.  WOW!  The wildlife was putting on a display.

This morning found Willie and I headed off to Bugge’s Beach for a quick paddle.  Willie woke up and said “do you want the good news or the bad news?’  I wanted to start with the bad news.  “The water temperature is reading around 52.7”  Ok what is the  good news.  “That was the good news”  Wait I thought I asked for the bad news first!  Bad news – it was supposed to be blowing today and the weather is flat calm.  Saturday the weather was supposed to be calm and this was going to be the day we looked to swim.  I think we will have to play the wait and see game and discuss at our 6pm safety meeting tonight.  If Saturday doesn’t look good, we will be looking at Monday July 5th, as July 4th there are too many commitments by the volunteers.  The joys of channel swimming and praying for the right weather conditions.  Think calm weather and warm thoughts for Willie and I as we embark into the wild.

Oh and the toes are painted “Berry Fast”.  Another swim and another color.  I hope this brings good luck.

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4 Responses to “Clarence Strait, Alaska – A dip into the unknown”

  1. Dave Radcliff says:

    What a challenge! And how exciting to be the first to swim this piece of water. Our thoughts are with you.
    Dave and Nancy

  2. Ann Bancroft says:

    We will be thinking of you in hot Minnesota!! Let the colored toes and your big spirit prevail!!

  3. Joni says:

    The name of the nail polish is perfect for you. Congrats Michelle!

  4. Tim Johnson says:

    What, water colder than Boston? Egads.

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