Week 42 – Sirens

Week 42    Saturday 16 March to Friday 22 March

Sirens restaurant in Williamstown

Williamstown beach

The Sirens restaurant is at the eastern end of the Williamstown beach. I’ve got a hunch – based on no evidence whatsoever – that it might be more popular with visitors than locals.  It was a dilapidated, abandoned, vandalised building – change rooms, I guess –  for many years. About 20 years ago it was the location for a ghost-story in the children’s series Around The Twist.

Toilet signs at Sirens

Scrubby bush at beach

About 100 years ago this part of the beach featured private hot sea baths, until a sizable storm in 1922 huffed and puffed and blew everything down.

I’ve been snorkelling a little off Sirens lately. Just mooching around, not expecting to find anything.

This week’s dips:
Saturday 16/3. 7.30am. Chicken Channel, supposedly reserved strictly for old blokes -especially skinny old blokes wearing a snorkel – is invaded by rubber-men, triathletes churning up the water. Busier than Bourke St.
Sunday 17/3. 7.30am. High tide. Big southerly winds. Beach all to myself. Where are you rubber-men now? Where are your wetsuits and your watches and your caps and your perfect techniques?
Monday 18/3. 12.50pm. Low tide. Fairly clear.
Tuesday 19/3. 6pm. A little choppy.
Wednesday 20/3. 4.30pm. Low tide. Clear. Mooching about near Sirens.
Thursday 21/3. 4.30pm. A howling cool northerly. Serious wind. But the water is relatively calm. Almost flat. Rain spatters the water. Get happily soaked riding home.
Friday 22/3. 4.30pm. Calm. Pottering around off Sirens.

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Week 41 – missed swim in Singapore

Week 41   Saturday 9 March to Friday 15 March 2013

Pool at Singapore Airport

Singapore Airport. A missed opportunity.

After a farewell dip on Saturday morning  9 March at our very own Hanoi Hilton, I headed back to Williamstown via Singapore. A friend had mentioned there was a pool at the Singapore Airport and while I had packed togs and a little towel into my hand-luggage when I was heading to Vietnam, I didn’t for the return journey. Not sure why.  Which left me with five hours to ponder the lost opportunity. The pool is at Terminal 1 of the airport and charges $13.91 (Singapore dollars.) Five hours between flights, and my togs were probably already on their way to Melbourne. Five hours and I was too cheap to buy another pair. Imagine how many laps I could have done in five hours. (Not many if you’ve seen what a poor swimmer I am. I’m a five-minute dipper, if that.) Five hours of night-time swimming. Ah, well, there’s always next time. (Do other airports offer such swimming facilities? Let me know.)

We got back to a warm Williamstown about midday on Sunday 10 March. I headed down to Jawbone Marine Sanctuary about 3pm. The water was fairly clear and absolutely gorgeous the next day. To my surprise Jawbone on Tuesday was very ordinary, despite the weather conditions seeming to be very good. The week concluded with short dips at the Williamstown beach.


Murky waters in Williamstown. Illustration by Andrew Baird, from the January 2003 edition of The Mariner


Next week: triathletes clogging up Chicken Channel!


Week 40 – Hanoi, Hoi An, Cua Dai

Week 40 – Saturday 2 March to Friday 8 March 2013

The chlorine in the pool in Hanoi seemed to have less sting than the chlorine in the pool at Hoi An. But then again, the Hoi An pool had dolphins  in it.

Swimming pool in Hoi An

The closest I’ll get to swimming with dolphins. Glory Hotel, Hoi An, central Vietnam.

Hoi An is a world-heritage listed city with more tailors than you cold poke at a sewing needle at. I resisted the hard-sell of the many tailors but now realise that I could have asked them to make me some togs. Tailor-made swimming trunks, imagine that. So it goes.

Fifteen minutes by push bike from Hoi An is Cua Dai beach. It’s gorgeous in summer according to all the brochures but at the tail end of winter the sky was grey, the wind was blowing, the rain was falling and the water was rough, very rough. I dived under a few waves and headed for the safety of the sand where a lone vendor, Lu-Lin, tried to sell me tourist knick-knacks. I had deliberately left my wallet back at the Glory Hotel.

Cua Dai beach, central Vietnam

Cua Dai beach, 4 March 2013

The week concluded with several daily dips back at The Hanoi Hilton, headquarters of  the 365 Swims International Laws Tribunal, which had convened an emergency hearing to adjudicate the case of the Williamstown swimmer who missed two days of swimming while in Sapa, near the Chinese border.

Water puppets in Vietnam

The Vietnamese delegates of the 365 Swims International Laws Tribunal remain tight-lipped about last week’s controversy. A decision has yet to be made but will be conveyed by grey smoke from a chimney.

The week’s dips:
2 March: Hanoi, 7pm (after returning from Halong Bay)
3 March: Hanoi in the morning, Hoi An in the evening
4 March: Cua Dai beach in the morning, Hoi An in the evening
5 March: Hoi An in the morning  (before flying to Hanoi)
6 March: Hanoi (7am, Noon, 6pm)
7 March: Hanoi in the morning
8 March: Hanoi in the morning and afternoon.

Next week: missed opportunity at Singapore Airport.

Week 39 – chlorine in Hanoi, failure in Sapa

Week 39   Saturday 23 February to Friday 1 March 2013

The 365 Swims International Laws Tribunal is currently hearing an appeal for clemency from a Williamstown swimmer whose successive swims since June 1 2012 came to a disappointing halt near the Vietnam-China border. The swimmer had had 267 successive daily dips but failed to have a swim  during a two-day visit to the once-remote village of Sapa in north-west Vietnam.

The alleged breaches of the 365 Swims International Laws occurred on Monday 25 February and Tuesday 26 February. The swimmer’s lawyer is calling for clemency given the extenuating circumstances (the rice paddies were too shallow, the river too dirty, the waterfalls too dangerous, the hotel too cheap to have a pool) and the fact the swimmer has had many ‘double-dips’ (two swims per day) in Williamstown since the start of summer. The swimmer also had a double-dip in  a pool in Hanoi immediately upon his return from Sapa.

A decision is expected to be handed down next week.

This week’s swims: Hanoi on 23/2 (afternoon), 24/2 (morning), 27/2 (morning and afternoon), 28/2 (morning) and Monkey Island on 1/3

The Hanoi Hilton swimming pool

The Hanoi Hilton?

Monkey Island, Vietnam

Monkey Island, Vietnam


Next week: chlorine in Hanoi and Hoi An, saltwater in Cua Dai.