For those out there sea swimming I know we’re not alone when we say that it’s got a bit nippy in the water this last week or so but I’m guessing there’s a way to drop yet. Some will say that it is feeling worse than it actually is because of the current unseasonably warm air temperatures, but there is no avoiding things…. the water is getting cooler. It’s not a surprise though really is it? It’s mid November already and the weeks seem to be flying by as we hurtle towards Christmas and the end of another rather awkward year. But Karen and I are still, for some unexplainable reason, suggesting to one another that it’s really just the tail end of summer. Even as Halloween and Bonfire Night flew past we were still in denial. So much so that we are yet to add any additional clothing to our swimming attire other than gloves and socks (although we each manage to forget even these on an all too regular basis… I mean how does that happen with such frequency when we swim pretty much every day?!). I’m not sure what it is that we’re waiting for either. Our shrieks and exclamations are at a pretty high level during water entry, followed by gasps, expletives and groaning whoops, but still we pretend that it’s acceptable behaviour. Having said all that, we know that the bigger temperature drops are yet to come and still a couple of months away so we’re not there yet!
How cold things are is the current ‘hot’ (obviously not hot) topic of conversations between swimmers at the beach. “What do you think the water temperature is?” we ask one another whilst offering suggestions varying from the optimistic to the downright ridiculous. We share anecdotes and hearsay about who has reported what figures when the reality is that we don’t seem to have many accurate numbers. Those that are suggested but sound higher than we think we’re experiencing are naturally ignored. “I don’t think its down to single figures yet but it must be close” etc etc. It’s definitely time for Karen’s “special swimming thermometer” to make an appearance. Ok, so it’s not actually special…or a swimming thermometer, it is in reality her greenhouse thermometer on a piece of string. It does however remain attached to Karen during use and, even if a little cumbersome, it tells you the water temperature.
However, it’s really useful to be able to glance online for information rather than having to create your own and so we start to look at a variety of websites, trying to find the sea temperature around The Solent. I’m surprised to discover that, according to a range of random sites, the sea temperature could be anything from 14C to 13.2C, from 12.9C to 13.7C all depending which site you look at and, it seems, depending on whether you are a fisherman, surfer or general beach goer. One of the more fascinating sites is the WaveNet interactive map from CEFAS (Centre for Environment, Fisheries, and Aquaculture Science which is part of Defra) who are the “world leading experts in marine and freshwater science” and who “help keep our seas, oceans and rivers healthy and productive and our seafood safe and sustainable, by providing data and advice to Government and our overseas partners”. Now they must be able to tell me what the sea temperature is as they have ‘smart buoys’ all over the place feeding back all sorts of information including wave height, wind speed and direction, and water temperature. Sadly there’s not one specifically in the main Solent but there are ones off Milford (recording 12.9C as I write), off The Needles, Bournemouth & Poole (13.5C), Sandown Bay (13.4C) and over towards Bracklesham, near Selsey Bill (12.3C). This site does at least feel reliable and detailed although before you know it you’ll find yourself slightly lost in faffing about looking at the conditions off the West Coast of Scotland (actually looking good) and the Moray Firth (definitely a little more chilly but glorious scenery!).
The problem for those swimming on the northern shores of the Island is that the trusted Bramblemet website isn’t working at the moment and hasn’t been for a few months. Although there is often questioning about the positioning of a weather station on the Brambles sandbank that is often out of the water by its positioning, it has been the go to information point. Thankfully Bramblemet has sister sites across The Solent and so we can at least look at the sea temperatures in Chichester Harbour on Cambermet which states that the current water temperature is 11.9C. It’s not yet even down to 10C!
So to answer my own question… “are we nearly there yet”? The answer is definitively “nowhere near”! Swim on all….