Whitsands Beach, Cornwall

Jim Shekhdar rowed solo across the Pacific, from Peru to Australia. Currently he is washed up in Whitsands Beach, Cornwall, at his Eddystone Cafe. I came here to talk to him about Pacific rowing.

We’d been chatting for a while on the cafe terrace when he said, ‘Time for a swim. Are you coming?’ As with my reluctant row on the Columbia River, I pleaded fractured hip as an excuse, and went inside to catch up on my emails. But I kept looking out of the window at the spectacular beach and rolling waves. I got a growing feeling of being in the wrong place.

My swimming costume is in California, so I cobbled together a bathing suit of strappy top and knickers, and ventured down to the (thankfully deserted) beach.

It was great – invigorating, refreshing, elemental. Jim found me and we swam out a way, bobbing about in the waves, sometimes just treading water while we talked. Our conversation seemed much more relaxed in the water than it had been on dry land.

As with the Columbia paddle, I was really glad I’d done it, and wondered why I never like the prospect of exercise, but once I’m doing it I really enjoy it. And when it’s over I enjoy it even more.

[photo: sunset on Whitsands Beach]

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