Like a Japanese gourmand’s wildest dream, fresh jellyfish appeared from nowhere
Like a scene from the singing Detective, jellyfish sting cream was applied liberally by all
Setting off from Mgarr below the cliffs of Ghajnsielem (the Maltese language contains a menacing lack of vowels) on the Gozo coast, the team headed out towards Comino – a strange, unpopulated island inhabited in the main by German beach towels and extras from the cast of Benidorm looking for somewhere to park their impressively proportioned rears.
The Ben 10 leg of the feat began well as Jane Kennedy and Rob Corney were first in the water, swimming from the Heylam Puki to the harbour wall to ensure they had swum the full distance across the straits. Unbeknown to them, they were to be the cannon-fodder for the jellyfish swarms and pretty soon the cry came up from the Commander to evacuate the water due to masses of jellyfish, which nearly occasioned an evacuation of a different nature as the two darted back to the boat.
But Ben 10 would never be put off by a few stingers, so pretty soon, and a hundred yards to the left, we were back in the water and off again.
Swimming out of Mgarr was like going back to the 1950s as the island’s seaplane berths in the marina and ocean-going ferries and merchant vessels dock next to it. There is something fairly motivating about swimming across a stretch of water that is largely home to vessels weighing in excess of a hundred tonnes and a quick pace was set across the 2.2km (c, 88 length) stretch. But pretty soon, the Hoodies of the marine world attacked again.
Being stung by a jellyfish is rather like being cut by a Stanley knife while receiving an electric shock and standing in a shower… certainly not recommended for anyone but those who frequent the darker back streets of Soho.
The ‘purple peril’ attacked all with equal venom – Ian Downes narrowly avoided disaster as something that looked like a floating breast implant with tentacles approached him, but he gallantly scooped it away… straight onto Sarah Turley who took it on the nose and instantly looked like an unsuccessful boxer with sunburn.
Ian Down took a hit on the ear and Rob Corney had three down one leg, but Richard Flook came off by far the most unfortunate ‘taking it on the chin’ and, reacting as any real man should, elected to punch the little bugger, only to be seen later applying liberal doses of jellyfish sting cream to his knuckles and praising the modern miracle of anti-histamines.
The Commander was treated to some serious naval language, which could only have been learnt in the licensing community and which is not printable here, but the run into Comino was like the mine scene from We Dive at Dawn as everybody took particular note of the location of the virulent little blighters. It was noted that 2-i-c Stephen was one of few to not pick up a war wound, but with his hair flapping in the current he did look like something from the deeps and probably scared them off.
Having arrived on Comino, energy drinks were drunk and the team set off across the Comino landscape. The mention of the word ‘walk’ issuing from the Commander’s lips struck fear into the hearts of most as yesterday’s ungainly slide down the sheer cliff face into Xlendi Bay was more akin to the Ranger’s assault on Gold beach than a walk; but thankfully, the OED had come into play last night and, though tiring, the 5km yomp in the heat of the day was steep and rocky, but manageable and we arrived in the Blue Lagoon for lunch and an afternoon of swim training.
A few laps of the blue lagoon with underwater cameras helped to hone the technique ahead of tomorrow’s marathon swim when the team launch a dawn assault on the island of Malta off the Gozo coast.
It was very good of Smiffys to send out their private boat as the local taxi arrived displaying ‘Serious Fun… which was difficult to read through the haze of pain caused by repetitive exercise, jellyfish stings and achingly sore sunburn. With over a hundred lengths covered again, the team headed back to Gozo as more jellyfish cream was doled out together with more anti-histamine tablets. A quick experience of crazy local taxi drivers as the chap took an important phone call en route and instantly accelerated to 60 while navigating the dangerously narrow coastal road… but then he probably felt fairly safe as he was wearing the only seatbelt in the vehicle.
A quick re-hydration session later and the team are about to head off for some well-earned carbs ahead of a very frightening effort tomorrow.
Today's swim blog is bought to you in association with Ben 10, a half-hour animated TV show following the adventures of Ben Tennyson, a ten year-old (and otherwise average kid) who discovers a strange alien watch in a crashed meteorite. Soon, Ben discovers that by using this omnipowerful Ominitrix watch he can transform into different alien beings, each with unique powers and abilities, all while keeping his ten year-old personality. The first of four series of the show was broadcast on Cartoon Network in March 2006 and it went on to GMTV in September last year.
There are now 30 Ben 10 licensees in the UK ensuring there is something for everyone.