Friday, January 16, 2009

Swimming the Rip, St Thomas, January 2009

At Lake Michigan Diary we do not generally swim when the Lake temperature drops much below 60. But we occasionally take the opportunity to do a bit of open water swimming at warmer locations. This year finds us at Bolongo Bay in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. This is a small protected bay on the Caribbean side with minimal boat traffic. A common local weather pattern sets up a strong narrow rip current which goes sideways in the bay, then curves and weakens as it heads out to sea and encounters larger waves. During the day there are watchful beach attendants with a jet ski willing to rescue guests in trouble. So it was a nice safe chance to practice identifying currents and swimming with, across and against the the rip. One lesson learned: it is much easier to deal with a rip current when you know exactly where it is.