This morning was race day. With Start Point in sight, at six minutes past six this morning, I dived straight into the grey ocean. It was bitter and uninviting in the weak post-dawn light.

Our skipper, now just 'skip', had lined us up just right.

I hit the current just as it was building, with 3.5 knots behind me. Gradually, it built up to 3.75 knots, then 4. For every stroke I took, I was pushed forward the distance of another stroke. The ocean was giving me a helping hand, pushing me onwards, alongside and then around the imposing lighthouse at Start Point.

In an hour, I covered over 6km. In the poor currents of last week, it had taken me two and a half hours to cover the same distance. I was flying, pivoting perfectly around the headland and then, finally, out into the open water of Lyme Bay.

The current was taking me offshore - Start Point is the last land I'll see for nearly two weeks, until I reach Portland Bill near Weymouth, 122km away. For scale, Dover to Calais is 33km.

That's a lot of empty sea; there will be nowhere to hide.

Beneath the waves, though, will be the country's largest Marine Protected Area (MPA) - a marine reserve which is a biodiversity hot spot for rare species. One of the core reasons I am undertaking this swim is to highlight the need for more and better protected MPAs, so swimming through Lyme Bay will be a chance for me to see the positive impact that it's having.

An hour and 35 minutes into the swim, the cold was starting to numb my fingers and toes, so I made the decision to exit the water. Skip was jubilant, telling me that I'd swum a full 10km.

We motored into our hub for the next week - the idyllic naval town of Dartmouth. Like yesterday, I spent much of the day resting in an attempt to recover for the evening swim.

When I next woke, we were at sea again with waves hitting the dual hulls of our catamaran side on.

Swallowing my nausea, I peeked up into the galley from my cabin to ask what conditions were like. There was a wind force of 4, and it was building. It was time to batten down the hatches.

All the portholes needed to be closed and any loose items needed to be lashed down or stashed away. We've been so lucky with bluebird weather from day one, it was bound to break at some point and was starting to now.

As we motored further away from land, I could see clouds billowing as they hit the sea, being forced vertically upwards by the changing pressure. They blocked out the sun and gave the light a sinister silvery hue.


Skip judged it as plenty safe enough to swim still, and taking his word for it, I jumped off the bow. I just wanted to manage another 90-minute swim.

My head was down - I blocked out my swirling concerns and to focus only on counting strokes. At least there would be no jellyfish to worry about in these conditions.

I could feel that the current wasn't as strong as this morning, but it was still giving me a boost that I'd have been deeply grateful for only a couple of days ago.

When I looked up for the first time after 45 minutes, Skip shouted down that I was going like a train. I felt fast, forceful, effective. The weather was working in my favour, not against me. If she'd have wanted to turn on me and swallow me whole, though, I could tell that I'd have no choice but to submit.

This was not a force that could be conquered, only one which allowed you to pass through.

After an hour and half, I managed 6.5km.

We gingerly motored home - the weather looked to be getting worse.

Even now, as we are safely moored in Dartmouth harbour while I write this, my team and I can hear the sharp plinging of metal on metal as the wires of the sails are repeatedly forced onto the mast and the wind whistling down the River Dart.


Skip has yet to make the call on if we will swim at all tomorrow, with a predicted wind of 30+ knots.

With our oceans at such risk, though, I wonder how much I'm prepared to risk in this swim to make this message heard.

16.47km (10.2miles)