"Not as advertised."

As we arrive at the boat, I can’t help but notice that it’s a warm, beautiful morning. The weather forecast is excellent; minimal wind, 55 degree water at the Golden Gate Bridge, dropping to 49 degrees at the Farallon Islands. WONDERFUL.

We leave the dock at 3:15am and motor towards the starting point, the Golden Gate Bridge. I help Joe get organized – goggles, blinky light, lanolin… check, check and check.

As Vito notifies Vessel Traffic of our intent on the radio, I smile and laugh to myself. The poor Vessel Traffic operator.

He must wonder what the hell we’re doing, because this is definitely not normal; jumping into cold shark infested water, in the dark early hours of the morning while 99% of our friends and family sleep, without a wetsuit, is weird. It’s not normal. But… WE live for this. And, in the words of one of my friends and fellow swimmers: “we only succeed by doing things others aren't prepared to do!”

The ebb has kicked in and the water is moving. Fast. As we arrive at the Golden Gate Bridge the wind is picking up and the air temperature has dropped. This is not good. At 3:33am Joe stands on the edge of the boat, ready to jump. “I love you Joe!” He dives in the water and all we see of him as he powers through the waves is the blue blinky light attached to the back of his goggles. It’s really dark. The moon is nowhere to be seen. And it’s terribly ominous.

The swell picks up and the boat ride begins to get a little bumpy. Scratch that. Really bumpy. I walk to the helm and ask Vito what he thinks about the conditions. “Not as advertised, let me tell you that.” Oh no...

Patti urges me to put a scopolamine patch on to prevent sea sickness. "It's going to be pretty rough out there. I think you might need this." I’ve never been sea sick before, but there’s absolutely no way I can afford to be sea sick on this trip – Joe is relying on me to organize his feedings and carefully watch him as he swims through these treacherous waters. I obligingly place a patch behind my ear. A few minutes later I feel my heart race. 30 minutes later my mouth begins to salivate. Oh, good god I feel really really ill...

Kim Kirby

London, UK