Update from Navigator John Bartlett: 6pm

Update from Navigator John Bartlett
Saturday August 31, 2013, 6:00 p.m. EDT, Swim time: 9:00

Winds out of the east north east. Temporarily reached 7.5kts. Against and easterly current of 1.3kts. Causing a 1-3ft chop and 3ft swells. Current seas have moderated and wind is down to 6kts and will hopefully continue to go down into the evening hours.

Diana has swum 11.85 statute miles and is currently stroking at 50 strokes per minute.

Independent Observer Roger McVeigh adds “Most of the day Diana was swimming between 55 and 60 strokes per minute [which is usual for the beginning]. As of 5pm she was averaging 1.4 to 1.5 miles per hour, about 40 minutes per mile.

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Weather Observations at 6:00pm

Weather Observation
Saturday August 31, 2013, 6:00 p.m. EDT, Swim time: 9:00

Meteorologist Lee Chesneau emailed us a weather report and asked for some visual observations.


At position N 2315.6 W 08230.4 on scene weather 065 degrees magnetic at 8kts. Seas 1 foot with 3 second period. Current estimation 100 degrees magnetic at 1 knot. Temperature estimated 86 degrees. Clouds high overcast with broken ceiling cumulous at 1500 feet. Scattered isolated thunderstorms.

Below are photos of the weather at 543pm.

 

 

 

 

From: Lee Chesneau
Subject: WX Forecast Update
Date: August 31, 2013 5:32:47 PM EDT

Hello Alex,

Meteorologist Lee Chesneau here.

Please pass this to John Bartlett (I cc’d above but am not able to know if he will get this)

Key West radar shows a Thunderstorm (TSTM) complex that developed over mainland western Cuba this afternoon are moving north (offshore). Expect moderate to heavy rain fall and possible lightning strikes. Winds will be briefly gusting up to 35 knots vicinity TSTMS (likely from a southerly direction). When precipitation starts, typically winds will diminish considerably. By sundown the TSTMS should weaken and abate. Pls send visual and text observation updates often as possible. A 24 hour forecast will follow.

Fair Winds
Lee

 

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Update: 5pm

Update
Saturday August 31, 2013, 5:05 p.m. EDT, Swim time: 8:05

Dave Magnone, captain of Sentimental Journey, is closely monitoring a weather system that’s grown in size and is now sitting about 3 miles away behind our location. They are tracking the movement of the storm and will make a decision when it is within 2 miles of the fleet.

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Stewards of the Ocean

Stewards of the Ocean
Saturday August 31, 2013, 3:33 p.m. EDT, Swim time: 6:33
reported by Candace Hogan

Six and a half hours into the swim, Co-captains Pam Morris and Jeff Lewis, and Judy Montague on the boat Dreams Do Come True (carrying independent observers and media team) noticed a change of water flow signaled by an accumulation of plastic and garbage ahead of us. Pam rushed to get the pole and used its hook to pluck out a plastic bag that was reachable, saying, “We have to be stewards of the ocean.”

There are places in the ocean—“changes in the water flow,” as Jeff calls it—“where right at the edges everything gathers, like in a ditch: chunks of plastic, garbage, you name it.

“Sea turtles mistake the plastic bags for jellyfish, which they eat and it kills them,” said Pam.

Judy says that cardboard or paper are legal to dump because seawater dissolves it in fairly short shrift, although she’d never do it. “There is no place on earth where it is legal to dump plastic, however, because it never goes away.”

On her past swims, like the sea turtle, Diana herself has often mistaken a plastic bag for a jellyfish at first, until reassured. But the reassurance is short-lived because sea turtles used to swim with her on occasion over the years, like dolphins still do, and she’s saddened that they are a threatened species now and diminishing in number.

 

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Day Before the Start: Why Again?

Day Before the Start: Why again?
reported by Candace Lyle Hogan

At Marina Hemingway in Cuba the day before the start: Speaking mostly in Spanish to the Cuban press during a 4 pm press conference, Diana Nyad knew what the first question would be: Why? This is the fifth attempt–the first was at age 29 in 1978 (over 42 hours in the water); the next three, more than 30 years later and even more impressive, twice in 2011 and the last one before this, in 2012, the swim was 50 hours long. It’s been grueling and she’s been thwarted, if not by allergies and deadly jellyfish, then by turbulent squalls and unpredictable weather, current, and wind conditions.

“You are probably thinking OMG, she’s back here again,” Diana told a crowd of about 50 from the Cuban press, “so I appreciate that you’re interested, and so polite and so gracious.


“People who go to Mt. Everest…sometimes it takes them 20 years to make it, after mounting expedition after expedition. No one has ever done this before without a shark cage, swum across the Florida Straits from Cuba to Florida, though people have tried since the 1950s. It’s more than 103miles in open water, a navigational nightmare, with variable winds and Gulf Stream currents, not to mention swarms of jellyfish at night now more than ever before. It’s not enough to be a strong swimmer; you need a lot of luck, too.

“So here I am for my fifth—and last—time. It’s a fine line between having the grace to let go of something you don’t have control over and just can’t beat….and I could be in that place …except I had to ask myself, Is there a way? So I’ve made preparations to try to protect myself fully from the box jellyfish. I have the best support team ever and have trained consistently and rigorously for four years now. I feel stronger and more prepared than I’ve ever been. It’s a fine line between having the grace to see things are bigger than you are and there’s another fine line, an edge, where you don’t want to ever give up.


“Teddy Roosevelt said something like, don’t criticize the person who gets in the ring. Don’t berate the one who gets dirty and bloody and then fails—at least they are there; they are not timid. I want to be in the ring and be bold and just go for it.” One last time.

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Don “Woodkayaker” McCumber spots a Nyad with his GoPro

Here’s some of the best footage we’ve seen of Diana swimming. Don “Woodkayaker” McCumber, a member of our kayak team, had his GoPro video camera running when Diana jumped into the sea to begin her swim. A Florida Master Naturalist with Everglades Area Tours, Don has a keen eye for all types wildlife, Nyads included!

 

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Crew Update 3:00pm

Crew Update
Saturday August 31, 2013, 3:00 p.m. EDT, Swim time: 6:00
Reported by Katie Leigh


One of the drivers of Voyager was diagnosed with dehydration this morning by team doctors Derek Covington and John Kot, anesthesiologists at Jackson Memorial Hospital, the teaching hospital for the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

The doctors administered an IV in his hand and he is currently resting in his bunk aboard Sentimental Journey. He missed his first shift driving, but is feeling better and hoping to get back in the next rotation. Any time a team member is out sick, it puts a strain on the rest of the team to cover duties. This is a wakeup call to everyone to drink plenty of fluids. Temperatures are currently 86 degrees under clear skies.

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Jellyfish Sighting

Jellyfish Sighting
Saturday August 31, 2013, 2:40 p.m. EDT, Swim time: 5:40
Reported by Captain Jeff

Captain Jeff aboard Dreams Do Come True identified an unknown jellyfish 40 feet off the starboard side, floating about 2 feet underwater. It looks like a “parachute with tentacles.”

The sighting sets off a contingency plan that puts jellyfish expert Angel Yanagihara in a dingy to go out and inspect the creature.

We believe the jellyfish nearly crossed Diana’s path. It appears to be a solitary jellyfish.

 

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Close Call

Diana’s flotilla doesn’t encounter a lot of other boat traffic while crossing the vast expanse of the Florida Straits, but captains always have to be vigilant for vessels that could be a danger to Diana or the fleet. This is especially true within a few miles of Havana and at night.

This morning, we encountered a rusty Cuban fishing vessel heading toward us at 10-12 mph, a good clip, especially when our fleet is traveling only about 1 mph. The boat did not respond to our call on the VHF-FM on channel 16 (the emergency and hailing frequency), explaining the situation and asking them to alter course. Captain Jeff of “Dreams Do Come True” took a position ahead of Diana’s escort boat, Voyager, to keep Diana out of harm’s way, while Voyager maintained course and speed to go behind the vessel as it crossed in front of Diana’s fleet.


Meanwhile, Diana continues swimming and is none-the-wiser, which is exactly how the team is meant to work.

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Update 1:45pm

Update
Saturday August 31, 2013, 1:45 p.m. EDT, Swim time: 4:45
Reported by Navigator John Bartlett


As of 1:45pm Diana has travelled 7.05 statute miles and is traveling at an average speed of 2mph, which is at the high end of her speed range. The currents are neither helping or hurting her at this time.

 

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