The plan was simple enough, fly to Jersey one day, carry out all the intended investigations then fly home the next day.
Points to hit:
- Judge how I feel after the flight and the ease of car hire on arrival.
- Familiarise with routes/distances from airport to likely hotel/s.
- Meet with Matthew Clarke, the skipper for my J2F swim.
- Visit the Marina to confirm its location, ease of access, whilst there see 'Lionheart' (Matts Boat).
- Visit start point for J2F swims for visualisation and peace of mind.
- Have at least one swim in the sea, ideally one alongside Lionheart if possible.
- Assess the water temperature whilst swimming again for peace of mind.
- Confirm suitable, conveniently located accommodation.
I was set for a busy 24 hours, before I left homeMatt confirmed he would be out with 2 person (Ali Wood & Andy Truscott) relay on an untried passage from Les Minquiers to Jersey, but had very kindly taken some time off work to allow our rendezvous.
The flight was a mere 70 minutes from home and very reasonably priced, I was fresh as a daisy on landing, the car hire was a doddle, with vehicle being situated about 100m from the terminal. I received a message from Zoe saying she was on Island and had already been swimming. Great news as she could now do the introductions with Matt.
We met for a cuppa whilst we awaited the completion of the relay swim and the return of Lionheart, the weather was poor, with showers all afternoon though this did not dampen my enthusiasm. I was shown a few points of note such as the marina, the lido (below), routes into town etc.
Matt arrived back at La Collete Marina around 1830, once the relay team (Andy and Ali) had departed we were welcomed aboard. I have to say Matt could not have been more hospitable, we had warm drinks and were soon discussing charts, tides, swim routes, tracking and much more.
We then had part 1 of the guided island tour which concluded with our evening meal. An early night for me with a firm plan in place for the following morning.
Wednesday and Part 2 of the Matt tour and associated history lessons as we drove around to the start point of the J2F at La Coupe.
(with Matt at the J2F start point, St. Catherines pier in background)
We then returned to the Marina where despite the strong winds Matt took us out to sea, he was determined to facilitate a swim alongside the boat by finding some sheltered waters.
(pre swim nerves)
The swim itself was a little bumpy, the water was 16ºc/61ºf and clear by comparison to Dover and our local river.
We commenced the journey back to La Collete when amazingly we were joined by a dolphin right next to the boat. This totally completed the trip and was taken by all of us as a good omen.
A quick bite to eat, more chat and laughter and it was time to head off to the airport.
This proved to be an excellent and most beneficial trip, lots of my concerns were addressed - I was made to feel extremely valued and welcome. The professionalism, warmth, passion and hospitality shown by and extended to me by Matthew was exceptional, I am truly grateful and hope I can repay him by being fully prepared for the swim in what could be less than 3-4 weeks.
If you are considering a swim from, around, or near to Jersey then I would not hesitate for a moment in recommending him.
I cannot end without also saying a big thank you to my little buddy Zoe.