25 September 2005: Jamestown to Wickford



Date: 25 September 2005.
Distance and route: 3.3 miles Jamestown to Wickford across Narragansett Bay.
Water Temperature: 64.6º F at 8 am, 65.1º F at 10 am, 65.8º F at noon (temperatures at Newport from NOAA website).
Time: 1:55.
Swimmers: Rich Burrows and John Forasté.
Kayakers: John Forasté and Rich Burrows.


Rich suggested we do an open water swim between Wickford and Jamestown, he swimming the 1st leg from Wickford to Jamestown with me kayaking, followed by me swimming the return leg from Jamestown to Wickford with him kayaking. This would keep the logistics simple, requiring only the two of us, parking and entering from the town beach just outside Wickford village, and not having to deal with the very limited public access on Jamestown.

The air temperature had dropped dramatically the day before making it feel like early fall. When leaving the house at 6:30 am, I turned the heat on in the car for the first time of this season. While questioning the wisdom of our plan, I wasn't going to be the one to call it off. When pulling into beach parking lot in Wickford, there was a heavy fog rising about 10 feet off the water across the Bay. It was beautiful, but highly intimidating. Yet, the sun broke and cleared the fog as Rich and I readied the kayak and ourselves. However, the air was still cold.

About 8 am, I pushed off in the kayak with 3 layers of clothes - a wool sweater on top - and waited. Rich doesn't believe in websuits and entered the water without one. But, he immediately called me back for the websuit which I had packed in the kayak (just in case!). Despite some coldness in his fingers and feet, he found the water temperature to be ok. Thankfully, the air temperature improved and I was soon down to one layer of clothing. The water surface was the smoothest I had ever seen it on the Bay - ideal for swimming. There were only a few recreational fishermen, but, with little wind, no sailboats. The Jamestown Bridge was way off to our right. Jamestown was a green sliver of land that beckoned us in the distance. Having sighted a bright spot on Jamestown, it was easy to stay on coarse. Kayaking for a swimmer is a leisurely and enjoyable affair. With excellent conditions, Rich had a good swim.

About half way across, we passed through a school of bluefish. Blues jump as they feed, breaking the water's surface and drawing the attention of swarms of birds. It's quite a show. I thought our presence would cause them to move away as we approached and was surprised when a blue jumped about 3 or 4 feet to my right and then 2 jumped about 3 feet to Rich's left - and quite a few birds flew low over our heads! It was a special, if fleeting, experience. (Having said that, I just learned that - according to Maryland's Department of Natural Resources website - bluefish are so voracious they will even kill prey they do not eat and have occasionally bitten human swimmers who were unfortunate enough to encounter a feeding school!)

About 15' from Jamestown, the silky smooth water changed almost immediately to a tightly rippled surface. It was not rolling and didn't affected Rich's swimming, but was curious (Rich said he felt the water get a little colder). I was able to confirm that our destination point midst some boulders and crushed shells would work well. Rich swam the 3.3 miles in 1:40.

On shore, we switched roles, Rich pushing off in the kayak and I entering the water in the wetsuit. For about the first third of the way, I felt good and was able to maintain a nice even stroke. But the water soon evolved into a chop. It was nothing like the beating we had experienced the week before swimming to Conimicut Light, but it made for hard work and I was unable to maintain a good rhythm - and took in water twice, something I hate doing. Rich later said that the rising tide also pushed us a little north as we approached Wickford. But, having no control over the conditions, I tried to go with the flow and remain steady. I finished in 1:55, was happy to have done it and - now being about noon - was famished!

We dedicated our swims to our swimming buddy, Phil Weinstein, and his fiancée, Joanie Raphael, who married in the afternoon of the same day!


Map data 2005 NAVTEQ from