Circumnavigation of Blake Island

There are lots of ways to circumnavigate Blake Island.  But last Thursday we chose to swim it.  The entire week had been full of beautiful PNW August days.  Meaning sun, 72 and blue skies.  Except for the day we chose to swim.  I woke to heavy rain in Seattle (I know, surprise, it’s Seattle!) But it was a bit unusual for this time of year.  Persevering, I grabbed extra warm clothes and took the Argosy Fast Ferry over to Blake Island. The pilot said there was currently a squall over Seattle, but that it should move out… hopefully… soon. 

The weather on the island was different.  The rain had stopped, but not the winds, which made for a pretty tough swim.  3 hours and 15 minutes, and close to 10,000 yards on the Garmin.  (which is about 5½ miles) 

Swimming around an island is a perfect way to see how the water meets the land from all angles.  It gives you a taste of everything.  At times we were fighting a very strong current that seemed to be pushing us backwards, but then you’d make it around a bend and everything would change.  (As my teammate Heidi likes to say, we were rewarded with a magic carpet ride!)  You work for it and then you get a free ride.  It’s a nice mix.

During the first half of the swim, I was escorted by the cutest seal in the Sound.  Seals are so curious, and they love to follow you at your feet.  Even though they’re much better swimmers and can easily outpace even the best of us, they will stay with you for a very long time just to play and do somersaults.

My seal friend stayed with me during the toughest part of my swim, which was serendipitous.   Just when the current was the strongest and we were making very little progress, this little fellow was a lifesaver.  At times, your mind can be your biggest obstacle, sending you thoughts like “maybe you should call it quits!” But just then, this little seal would swim underneath me and seem to say “Look how easy this is!”  With this kind of encouragement, I was able to keep swimming.   

Good thing too, because this part of the swim was like swimming through the Seattle Aquarium.  Condensed, Colorful and Alive.  Tons of crabs, sea stars, schools of fish and all the varieties of beautiful seaweed you can imagine.  I was glad I didn’t miss this.  The struggle was worth it.

This was just what I needed.  I’d been training all winter for a different swimming adventure off the coast of France, but with the current travel restrictions in place, that was not to be this year. The swim was postponed to 2021, and I was feeling a bit down about that, so it’s been lovely to explore my own state, and experience all that it has to offer.  

I’ve been thinking about my perspective through all of this, and even though this was not the summer most of us imagined, it is possible to switch our mindset.  There are silver linings and serendipitous situations that we find ourselves in, like this Blake Island swim.  It’s interesting, when something that was initially a negative has a positive outcome, then was the negative really a negative? Deep thoughts for another post.

In the meantime, I’ve added another great organization to my list in honor of my speedy escort: Seal Sitters.  Check it out and don’t forget to become a Patron of the Sound!