Danger Lurks When No Man Has Gone Before

Danger Lurks When No Man Has Gone Before

After setting a new Molokai Channel record in 12 hours and 53 minutes, Chris Palfrey is gearing up for another warm-water swim, this time in Australia. He plans to swim from Green Island, a small coral atoll on the Great Barrier Reef to Yorkeys Knob, north of Cairns in Far North Queensland. But he is going to face all kinds of marine life that have to weigh on his mind and will place incredible pressure on his support crew.

Cairns is 19° south of the equator, so the water is very warm. My main hazards are tiger sharks for which I will use the Shark Shield.”

But there are also crocodiles for which the crew will keep their eyes peeled. And jellyfish.”

But not just any jellyfish: chironex fleckeri, the most venomous creatures on earth.

The waters of northern Australia are home to the box jellyfish. They start to become prevalent in November, so I think I should be OK with a mid-October target date. I may use a swimsuit made of porous material, which covers the torso for a little extra protection just in case.”

Although records are minimal, Chris’ swim is perhaps the first time an individual will swim from the Great Barrier Reef to the Australian mainland.

Besides the natural predators and creatures, Chris’ challenge from Green Island to Cairns will also include mankind. There will be significant watercraft traffic along Chris’ route. “There will be tourist boats coming out of the port, shipping coming into and out of Cairns and the shipping going north and south along the inner shipping channel between Green Island and the coast,” said Wayne Williams of Motor Yacht Eendracht.

And with every swim along a coastal area, the tidal flow will have to be considered. “There is generally a north/south flow generated by the change in tides that runs parallel to the coast.”

When aggressive sharks and hungry crocodiles are not at the top of a swimmer’s list of concerns, the swim with this level of risk that is exceedingly rare. But an experienced marathon swimmer like Chris calculates his odds, recruits experienced crew members and times his swim to avoid what he can.

Careful in Cairns.

Copyright © 2010 by Open Water Source
Steven Munatones