Finally, at 3am we leave the San Francisco Yacht Club. Lying next to Joe in the cabin below, I hear Vito communicating with Vessel Traffic, informing them of our intention. “Vessel Traffic, this is Sequel. Over. We have 1 swimmer entering the water at the North Tower of the Golden Gate Bridge at 0330 hours swimming to the Farallon Islands. Over… Time of completion 1300 hours, over.” I do my best to quiet the thoughts that dart in and out of my mind and don’t say a word, because Joe is so focused yet very very calm.
I look at my watch… it’s 3:10am and time for Joe to get ready. We go upstairs to the main cabin. The Golden Gate Bridge is glowing beautifully against the black backdrop of darkness, and the outgoing water current is already kicking into high gear below the bridge. It’s a magical sight. The speed of the water current speed is expected to be a ripping 5.5 knots, which means Joe will be literally launched out to sea. Everyone is so excited.
Joe puts his swim cap on and I hand him his goggles with a miniature blue flashing light attached. This will help us locate him in the water until the sun comes up. I grab the tubs of lanolin and begin covering his body with the gooey and unpleasant smelling sludge. The smell intensifies as I slather the goo everywhere, paying careful attention to the places where he chafes: back of his neck, under his arms…. I can’t help but get a little carried away with my job and soon Joe is COVERED in 2 tubs of lanolin.
Basically, Joe now smells like a sheep. Correction: a wet sheep. How do I know this? Well, I grew up on a sheep and cattle farm in New Zealand, so you'll just have to take my word for it.
And suddenly it hits me. This is all so perfect. Smelling like a sheep, Joe is essentially swimming in stealth mode. Great White Sharks don’t know what sheep are!!! This is BRILLIANT.
At 3:32am, Joe jumps off the side of the boat and into the water.
Today, this American sheep is going for a little dip…