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Sea Bull Crosses The Tsugaru Channel

Courtesy of Lynton Mortensen, Tsugaru Channel, Japan.

Lynton Mortensen completed his sixth Oceans Seven channel in the most unanticipated, unexpected crossing in recent memory.

A day after his original escort pilot Captain Mizushima inexplicably ran the primary Tsugaru Channel escort boat on rocks near the start and was hospitalized as a result [along with swimmer Nathalie Luisa], Mortensen had to adjust to a new pilot.

But the 54-year-old Australian, nicknamed Sea Bull, shook off the unexpected and quickly got his job done, completing the 19.5 km crossing in 9 hours 34 minutes in the 24.3°C water.

Mortensen wrote, “Heartfelt thanks to my incredible crew with beautiful family Lisa and Angelique managing feeds and number one cheerleaders, observer Mika [Tokairin] and Captain Ito who was outstanding with his trusty fishing tawler called Daigo Taisei-maru. Nick and Lachie holding the fort back home but there in spirit.

We loaded up at Port Tappi, then Captain Ito motored us in the still night for an hour to the start line. It was a no fuss, no frills team, but everyone excited for what lay ahead.

Start time was 10:31 pm. The night was black as a raven in a starless sky. There is something quite eerie diving from the back of a trawler into the black ink water being guided by only a spot light and swimming alone to the sheer cliffs of Gogenzaki on Honshu to start the swim. Sensory overload. Visibility is limited with auditory and touch senses going into overdrive, coupled with a dash of anxiety. Just you and the soulless black water swirling and surging around the cliff face.

The faint sound of the air horn is heard to signify the start of the swim. Touch the cliff and the splash begins. The sense of trepidation swimming from the base of the cliffs with water sucking in and out doesn’t ease until back alongside the trawler with the A team support crew.

The Tsugaru swim is unique. Attached to a fishing rod at the front of the trawler is a long white ribbon [swim streamer] which sits 6 or so feet below the water surface for the swimmer to follow. A convenient guide especially in the dark, but I was tired of the cat and mouse chasing that bloody thing.

No adventures with marine life on this swim. Think I’ve had my fair share of late! Though Angie and Lisa filmed a school of jumping tuna who knew to stay out of reach given my being partial to sashimi.

The strong currents on this swim are everything they say they and more. About 1/4 way in during the night a strong westerly current kicked in. I had to swim parallel west for sometime so as not to be swept east and miss our target finish. Captain Ito skillfully navagated and directed me through this tough patch to stay on course. I was sick of seeing the lights of Honshu everytime I breathed left. After finally braking the Tsugaru Current, I dug deep to get to the other side as quickly as possible, trying to beat any other currents that lay ahead.

It was an exhilarating swim to the finish being the lighthouse at Shirakami-misaki on Hokkaido. No trepidation swimming the last couple of 100 meters to the shore – slowed it right down to take it all in and enjoy the moment. Big school of fish greeted me close to shore.

Touch the rock on the shoreline and thrilled that Angie jumped in and swam back to the boat with me – only 9 years old, but already a strong swimmer – had to work to keep up with her. So thankful to the crew and good luck charms Lisa and Angie with Lisa not taking her eyes off me and keeping me well fed through the swim.

Another amazing swim to be part of – such a privilege to splash in these waters for number 6 of the Oceans Seven.

A massive shout out and thanks for all the well wishes and messages of support from friends around the world and the swimming crew back home in Brisvegas with Anna our resident home reporter – very humbling – greatly appreciated one & all.

Time for more sake, sashimi, sushi, Japanese beers…

Sea Bull out.

Copyright © 2008-2018 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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