2006: Up the Sakonnet River off Portsmouth



Photograph at Sandy Point before swim, l-r: Todd and Angela Lang, John and Diane Forasté (photo by a friendly fisherman).


Date: 16 July 2006.
Distance and route: 5.1 miles up the Sakonnet River in Portsmouth from Sandy Point to Island Park (off Point Road).
Water Temperature: 68-71º F (temperature during swim at Quonset Point per NOAA website).
Time: 2 hour 39 minutes.
Swimmers: Angela Lang and John Forasté.
Kayakers: Todd Lang and Diane Forasté.


Having felt good about our 3 mile swim only a week earlier and having gained confidence from our successful 4 mile swim in 2003, Angela and I now wanted to attempt our longest swim ever. Diane and Todd also felt good about their kayaking the previous week and were ready for a longer one, but wanted to remain in a fairly protected area before venturing into more open water.

After dropping one car at the finish point, we all drove with the kayaks to the starting point. We traveled 5 miles south on Rt 138 paralleling our swim/kayak route. We all commented with some concern about how far it was! Uh oh.

We were up at 5:00 am, left the house at 6:00 and arrived at Sandy Point about 7:00 (the water is always calmest and the boat traffic lightest early in the day). It was a beautiful morning, the water calm and temperature perfect, the air comfortable and everyone in good spirits. A friendly fisherman photographed us before we put in.

We decided on the same team assignments that had worked so well the previous week: l-r, Todd kayaked and navigated, Angela set pace, I swam parallel to both Angela and Todd, and Diane provided visibility and protection on the right. We knew we would be heading up river with the incoming tide and that the sun would be to our right offering good visibility for everyone. Everything was a go.

When swimming 5 miles - which we figured would take somewhere under 3 hours - you don't stop to chat every 5 minutes. You must get into a rhythm, maintain a good stroke and stay the course. While it's special seeing the passing shoreline from the surface of the water, it's not a time for sightseeing. It's the rhythm of the stroke, the feel of where you are and the anticipation of where you're going that keeps you going and going and going.

It's hard work. But that's a given. Things went quite well for everyone. The only exception was when Angela and I each experienced intermittent cramping. While not fun, it wasn't threatening. I imagine we would have faired better had we been able to benefit from the Gatorade we had inadvertently left behind.

We all felt great about our successful adventure. And traveling back to retrieve the car at the starting point, we were again astonished at how far 5 miles actually is!

Next? The annual Save The Bay Swim is in 2 weeks on 29 July. After that? I still want to swim Sakonnet Point / Sachuest Point / Sakonnet Point which is 5 miles round trip - but this 5 miles is in very open water which, even on a good day, is sure to have a chop to it. We've also talked about some other swims which just may end up posted on this site!


Map data 2006 NAVTEQ from