Stage 5 has to be the toughest swim of 8 Bridges. I am excited to say that we all finished well within the ebb time. This brings us over the hump of 8 Bridges; 5 down, 2 stages or 33 miles to go.
I went into today with a lot of trepidation. Stage 5 really is an epic beast, and of all the stages this is the one that could stop Grace and myself from completing the 120 mile swim. But with great conditions and a great team helping to find the best currents and keep us safe, the four of us pulled it off with time to spare.
We met at Shatemuc Yacht Club in Ossining just after six this morning. There was some excitement when David found his boat full of water. As the boats motored to Bear Mt Bridge, Dave, Lisa, and Willie were bailing water out of Agent Orange with water bottles. Hopefully the leaking boat issue will get resolved tonight.
Eli splashed at 8:15 am, followed by David, myself, and Grace in five-minute intervals. The tide was still flooding weakly and for the first three hours we didn’t feel much of a push. In retrospect we could have waited another 30 minutes to start, but it’s a learning process. Also, today we were blessed with good currents and weather. These things are so changeable on the Hudson, so I am glad we were conservative in our early start even if the times could have been faster.
Conditions were beautifully flat for the first three hours, and Grace and I swam this section together. Grace, with her powerful stroke, went on ahead about the time we reached Haverstraw Bay. Here the wind, chop, and current picked up and we started to make progress. About 3.5 hours into the swim we were 10 miles in and I started to feel some relief and excitement that we would make it before the flood tide.
Captain Greg on Launch 5 and his son Buddy in the small rib worked hard to find the best currents, even enlisting the help of the Coast Guard who was helping us today. We stayed with the peaking current by taking a wide s-bend from west to east on the Tappan Zee approach; the second 10 or more miles of the swim took about 2.5 hours.
It was another fantastic day on the water. Eli had a great swim completing the 20 miles in just over seven hours. David finished his “unfinished business” with Stage 5 and took the Scenic Hudson prize. Grace keeps getting stronger with every stage. I felt good today and am happy with how the swim went. I am excited to enjoy the last two stages as much as I possibly can and make the most of this epic adventure.
A big shout out to our kayakers for the full seven stages: Margarethe, Steve, Pat and Terry. These guys are absolutely fantastic in every way. M & S disappear after each stage to camp under a bridge, appearing bright and early the next morning ready to go. P & T are full of laughter and keep things upbeat. On their day off they made these bright t-shirts.