Celtman 0300 – early start! The swim! 

It was a short sleep and we had a grand breakfast at Arrina with Kallie our hostest up even earlier (0200) to send us of with a good breakfast. She had a Swiss competitor and his support crew staying as well and then it was off with captain Taff to the “Jenny Wren”his boat and meet the Swimmers ready for the start of this amazing race the Celtman! It was a misty start as we crossed the loch and met our two other young crew Finn and Alfie from London at Sheildaig! They were on work experience week . I hoped with sunrise at  0420 that it may brighten up but  it was still a misty and dark trip across the loch to the start but “Captain Harris “was on great form! 

Photo my old mate Captain Taff John Harries” an old sea dog now !

 The safety cover is done by about 12 – 15 kayaks across the 3 miles of the race covers across Loch Torridon and there are 175 Competitors who make the wild open swim! Taff’s boat the “Jenny Wren “and several others act as safety cover in a well rehearsed operation ! Thankfully the water was calm but the tides were running and the start at 0500 is impressive ! All th competitors in the water and a countdown in the mist and with the drums and fire on shore is wild !it is primeval the noise builds up as the countdown starts! Then they are off headed by the kayaks like shepherds and the sea a thrashing mass of piranhas ! It is sight to see! The plan is that we keep out of the way and watch for any problems! A kayak paddle in the air tells us of a problem to come in a radio call confirms guides us to them!

photo below of the young lads from London who must have wondered what they had taken on! Well done Finn and Alfie – top people they had some great thoughts on the referendum and Boris !! 

 Early on we had a casualty and it went well but we had to take him on board ! The paddle went up from the safety Kayaker and we came in the  three of us helped the swimmer aboard and he had been hit in the water by another swimmer and felt ill!  It was not easy getting him on board but Finn and Alfie were great ! The poor soul a year of training gone but thankfully he recovered on the main safety boat ” The Sea Flower” a huge Catamarran and we had no other problems. On this boat were para medics and a swimmer and we decanted our swimmer to them. 

The kayakers were excellent especially with those at the back of the race ! One competitor did the back stroke all the way!

What an effort by all ! The patience of the Kayakers is impressive this is the 5 th Celtman and my 4 th helping it is all that is good in sport! So many nations all involved and so much fun and fellowship whatever your standard!  In these selfish days it is a magnificent event.

 Photo – A swimmer escorted by the kayaker in the mist – 3 miles of open water!  All the swimmers were met with huge roars when they reached Sheildaig and then they were off on a 200 k cycle !!!

  • The winner took just under  40 mins and the last an hour more roughly! All went well and we dropped  of the boys at Sheidaig and had a coffee at Nanny’s  the cafe and headed back ! It was busy in the cafe with lots of the support crews and spectators getting looked after as it was going to be a long day ! The young boys had an interesting day as part of their work experience a big change from London and they were a great help ! It was great  meeting so many old pals in the water and shore on the way ! Even at 0630 in a misty Scottish morning!

some old faces in the water!

It was a great trip backto Arrina the sea is an emerald green and as the daylight improved it was an incredible sight.  I had fun getting off the boat in the bay below the house ! 

The Emerald sea surreal 

It was 

interesting getting on to the rocks as the tide was not in ! A bit of a scramble whilst Taff headed of with the boat and I tried to get a couple of hours sleep!  

 I  am off up the hill at 1300 to support the Torridon MRT at a check point ! 

It will be a long day ahead !

 A busy few hours and I will see if I can get a few hours sleep!
Thanks to Taff and Kallie for looking after me I their amazing Bed & Breakfast what a place to live !  

About heavywhalley.MBE

After dinner speaker Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 36 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 4 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer and loves the wild places.
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