Chris Allshouse - St Lucia coast, Fond Bay to Smuggler's Cove
Fond Bay to Smuggler's Cove
37 km (23.0 miles)
12 hours, 8 minutes on 29 November 2020
Observed and documented by Sue Dyson
- Name: Chris Allshouse
- Gender: male
- Age on swim date: 50
- Nationality: United States
- Resides: Canton, Ohio
- Will Wilson - captain
- Danly Augustin - captain
- Eget Martyr - rescue diver, support crew
- Vanessa Eugene - EMT, diver, support crew
- Julia Allshouse - feeder
- Shaquil Flavius - photography
- Hannah Miller - feeder, social media
Sue Dyson. Previous Exec Member of St Lucia Aquatic Federation; previous Exec Member of Seajays swim club; currently administrator of timing system and database for St Lucia Aquatic Federation; assisted in organization of Cameron Bellamy’s swim from Barbados to Saint Lucia; assisted in organization of Christophe Maleau’s swim from Saint Lucia to Martinique; assisted in organizing and documenting stages of Jaques Sicot’s 12 stage swim attempt around St Lucia (2017); involved in Ross Edgely’s attempt to swim towing a log from St Lucia to Martinique (Nov 2017); 2018 St Lucia Channel Swim event; 2019 St Lucia Channel Swim Event
- Sweet Wheat II catamaran (Rodney Bay, St. Lucia)
- Marine police vessel (Vieux Fort, St. Lucia)
- Category: Solo, nonstop, unassisted.
- Rules: MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming, without exception or modification.
- Equipment used: TYR briefs, silicone cap, Roka goggles, Budros butt paste, regular watch, bangles worn on wrist.
- Body of Water: Atlantic Ocean
- Route Type: one-way coastal swim
- Start Location: Fond Bay, Micoud, St. Lucia (13.833513, -60.893083)
- Finish Location: Smuggler’s Cove, Cap Estate, St. Lucia (14.100365, -60.950121)
- Minimum Route Distance: 37 km (23.0 miles) (map)
This part of the St Lucia coast has never been swum. During Jacques Sicot’s 12 stage swim around Saint Lucia in June/July 2017, he never completed these legs due to inclement weather. So, this was the first attempt of this route.
- Start: 29 November 2020, 06:34 (Atlantic Standard, America/St_Lucia, UTC-4).
- Finish: 29 November 2020, 18:43
- Elapsed: 12 hours, 8 minutes, 58 seconds.
Summary of Conditions
|Water Temp (F)||81.7||81.7|
|Air Temp (F)||78||85|
Trackpoint frequency: 20 minutes. Download raw data (CSV).
Nutrition: Every 30 min after first hour: Infinit drink, GU gels, picky bars.
by Sue Dyson
Leading up to the swim
The year 2020 was definitely a unique year for sports in general. Planning this swim would be no different. At the end of May 2020, Chris Allshouse contacted me to put together a swim from Saint Lucia to Martinique. The initial request indicated he would like to be part of the July 2020 event and my biggest question was “Through the pandemic, how much have you been able to train?”
In July 2020, I received an email from Chris asking if it would be possible at a different time of year. He suggested Thanksgiving Weekend in November 2020 to replace his proposed Molokai swim in October. No problem. November can be a mixed month weather wise but at the end of the month is usually much better than the beginning. Notoriously, the first 2 weeks of November are usually very rainy with tropical waves or troughs that move through.
Chris was sharing his huge amounts of training between 80,000 and 100,00 yards a week on social media over the next few months. As we planned for his swim, it was obvious that he was thrilled to be coming to Saint Lucia and able to swim. On this end, it was all about making it a memorable swim and vacation for him & his family.
Since I was in the midst of planning other swims, I had received permissions and protocols to follow at the beginning of August from local authorities. Of course, this could change but we didn’t have active cases or community spread.
As October reached, we discussed some small items and I submitted the request for his swim from Saint Lucia to Martinique. On October 13th around 2:20 PM local time, I received an email that both swims requested for November had been preliminarily approved by the authorities in Martinique. HOORAH! That hurdle has been crossed! However, there was one factor, if cases continued to rise in Martinique, this could be withdrawn. (This approval came ironically about 30 minutes after Katie Blair touched Martinique on her historic double attempt).
The first blow came as we learned of the Covid-19 virus in Saint Lucia around the time Katie Blair and Christophe Maleau both arrived to swim from St. Lucia to Martinique. At the time, it really was a blow, but this would prove to cause several smaller complications later in planning.
About 10 days later, the second blow came. We received information that although we could have our swims, we would not be able to have the crew we would normally have. We could only have 5 support persons (including the captain). That called for a discussion with Chris because he really wanted his family on the vessel supporting him. I called Chris to discuss various options including none of his family on board, one member on board or a completely different route that would allow everyone to be on board. Chris took a day or two to discuss with his family and I received a message from him, Martinique it is and his wife Julia would be coming with us. At this point, we started to update reservations and add an extra person traveling to all the requests both through local authorities and his accommodations, etc.
On Oct 30th, we received the next blow. President Macron of France has put France on lockdown. Special arrangements may be made for overseas territories depending on the Préfet of each territory. While we hoped that Préfet Cazelles would make allowances for our swims to Martinique to continue, we received word that permission is no longer granted. It was a 30 day lockdown that was hopefully to be lifted by Dec 1 but that was outside the original plans. Ok.. no problem… new routes. We can always swim around Saint Lucia. Beautiful shorelines throughout the island.
I called Chris and gave him options - East Coast, West Coast, Southern tip. The southern tip is the shortest distance and most challenging. The west coast is normally smooth and easy and a little longer. The east coast is closest in distance and conditions as swimming the St Lucia Channel. Our game plan became that I would continue to work with the Consular office to swim the St Lucia Channel due to the timing of Chris’s arrival in St Lucia. That was Game Plan A. Game Plan B became the East coast swim. We put in a request for Nov 30th for an attempt to swim across the Channel in hopes that we could get permission from the authorities in Martinique.
In the meantime, I started to plan the East coast swim. Micoud is a small fishing village and normally the beach there is built up with sargassum. Not wanting Chris to wade or swim through a thick layer of sargassum we decided to find a cliff edge or small flat beach in the area for him to swim. I worked with the boat Captains - Will Wilson and Danly Augustin - to determine if we could find a spot that might be good to start. I also engaged the St Lucia Air and Sea Port Authority (SLASPA) representative, St Lucia Marine Police Unit, and local fisherman. All were in agreement, you would need to wait until that morning to see what each area looks like.
Chris and family arrived on Wednesday, Nov 25th as planned. Chris’s family consisted of wife, Julia, 2 teenage children, Alexandra (Alex) & Xavier (X), and close family friend, Hannah. We discussed arrangements to leave on Saturday, Nov 28th at 12 midnight. On Saturday afternoon, the 2 captains and I started to load up the boat. After getting everything loaded and arranged, we all took a quick rest until the rest of the crew arrived along with Chris & family. Unfortunately, as normal, everything runs on island time so the family arrived late. That was good for the crew to all get set and ready for the swim.
Once Chris arrived with the family, we all gathered around the table on the stern of the boat for the reading of the rules. After that was complete, the captain started the vessel and we started to leave the dock while the rest of the group put their items away. Since we are going through this pandemic, it was requested by the CMO office that the family (international guests) use the heads and rooms on one side of the vessel and the crew (local) use the other side. With a 4 room, 4 head catamaran this was easy to arrange.
As we set down the coast, the nearly full moon shone brightly in the sky. The coast was lit up so you not only could you see the lights from the villages but also the beauty of the west coast line. While the landscape is significantly different to the east coast, it has its own beauty to it. The captains and I got ourselves situated for the drive down the west coast, around the southern tip, and the north to the Micoud area. As we went past the Pitons, we could see lightning off in the distance. It looked like St Vincent was having some storms… That would make for a bumpy turn at the south of the island.
At about 4:30 AM, as the team made up of both crew and family awoke from their rest, a light rain started to fall. As we stood looking towards Saint Lucia we could see a moonbow!!! Yes, a moon bow! The moon was full and bright enough to reflect off the rain and create a white bow in the sky… Unfortunately, it was not good for pictures. We were all in amazement as no one had seen anything like it.
A few minutes later, I received a phone call from the St Lucia Marine Police Unit. They were coming to meet us when we reached position. Advising them of our location, they said they would catch up with us shortly. We continued to round the southern tip, and as expected, the seas began to get even more intense. This caused our journey to the starting location to slow down.
By 5:40 we were nearing our location to get started. I spoke with both Capt Will and Capt Danly about our game plan. We decided that Capt Danly and I would board the dinghy and scout for a safe location to start while Chris would prepare to swim. The Marine Police (MPU) joined us as we noticed Fond Bay. Fond Bay is a small uninhabited area lined with palms and brush just north of the Micoud Village. We decided on a beach start and prepped for Capt Danly to take Chris to shore.
By 6:20 am, the dinghy was loaded into the water… the seas had been getting rougher so we wanted to be sure to get Chris to shore and started as quickly as possible. By 6:30, Chris was almost at shore and Capt Danly plus MPU were waiting for us to give the signal. At 6:34 AM, I counted down from 5 and Capt Will sounded the horn for the official start of Chris’s swim north along the East Coast.
As we came out of the bay and headed north, the MPU vessel pulled ahead of us. Most likely, they went to patrol the coast to see what type of activity was ahead. The swells alongs the east coast were in their normal range - between 1.2 and 1.3 meters (about 4 ft). While we started to swim members of the family started to feel ill. This continued as the day went on. At his first feed at 7:34 AM, Chris commented how the waves were not as he expected. The waves had more height and there was definitely more chop. As we continued on, Chris started to feel sicker as he kept ingesting more salt water than anticipated. Although he had a hard time getting into a rhythm, he pushed through from feed to feed.
At the end of 2 hours in the water, we had our first light shower which brought some relief as well as a beautiful rainbow. This proved to be the theme for the day. Chris mentioned he was finding a pattern and started to take in less salt water. As we started on our way again, the MPU came back to meet us. They followed behind us for a little bit. After about 15 minutes, they called me and indicated they were returning to the Southern Base. If we needed anything, to reach out to them and they would be glad to assist.
Sidenote: Earlier during the morning, Julia questioned why the MPU vessel was even there. I explained the MPU have always supported our swims. They either come out to travel with us for just part or most of the way. As part of our safety procedures, local authorities and services are on call to provide support as needed. The southern base has not really had the opportunity to be a part of the swim, which makes interaction more exciting for them. I am always grateful for their assistance and participation.
As we neared Dennery Village, more of the crew as well as the family were feeling sea sick. I also noticed that the phone which the tracker was on had turned off. I wasn’t sure exactly when it went off but as soon as it was noticed, we turned it back on. With the wave action hitting the boat directly from the side, it made it more difficult for everyone to get accustomed to it. The site of Dennery village gave the crew encouragement as a solid portion of area distance was covered in the first 2 ½ hours.
As the day went on, Chris also started to vomit. He asked us to reduce the Infinit powder in his feed bottles from 2 scoops for 20 ounces of water to 1 scoop. Chris had a Gu Gel after about 3 hours which did not stay down. At this point he was mixing caffeinated feed periods into the non-caffeinated feed periods. He also wasn’t urinating as much as expected/needed. We increased his straight water intake for this.
More rain squalls, more rainbows, and the brown boobies were visiting often. Several times they were swooping down very close to Chris. I suspect his white cap looked attractive to them. Maybe they just wanted to see what was happening. The coast line looked untouched by humans in almost all ways. Seldom would you see signs of inhabitants after we left the Dennery area until we got closer to Comorate Point and Cas En Bah. It is lined with beautiful coastal rocks and caves with secret bays sporadically as you travel north. The formations and cliffs comprise of straight edged cliffs to rolling hills filled with green pastures. If you didn’t know any better looking as some portions of this part of the island, you might call it deserted.
As we reached the halfway point, we were not far from Grand Anse Beach. This is a large stretch of sandy beach known as “Turtle beach” - mainly because Leatherback turtles lay their eggs to hatch in this area. In fact, many beaches around Saint Lucia will have turtle nests.
Despite still feeling ill, Chris’s mindset changed when we hit this mark. He was ready to tackle and complete the rest. He also started trying to eat Picky Bars. They would be torn into small pieces and placed in the “dry feed” bottle. This was a positive sign. About two hours later, the MPU called to check on where we were and how things were going. I have to say, they were on point with us during this trip.
The last push would have to come when we turned west at the top of Saint Lucia. This would also be the area of cross currents and high waves. Everyone was ready for the last couple hours. As we hit more populated areas, a drone joined us overhead. A local professional offered to come and capture some highlights for us via drone so they could be shared. Chris, having not lost any of his humor, hammed it up waving at the drone. That drone continued with us on and off right up until Chris walked on shore (later in the night).
Around 4:30 pm at this time of year, you can see the sun is starting to set in the sky. The full moon rose in the eastern sky and pink & orange hues started to fill the sky. As we neared the 10½ hour mark, the night sky was upon us. Chris was excited with how close we were getting. As we neared the last corner, in the middle of a strong current, he asked for some water. We had a quick feed and the boat got turned around. We pointed Chris in the right direction, while the boat swooped around him. About 15 to 20 minutes later, we had his son, X, take out a glow stick and sent it to him in a dry feed bottle. Within a few minutes, the night turned black. Julia thought it would be nice if everyone had a glow stick to wave him into his final stretch.
As we cap to the last corner to turn, with sights on Pigeon Island in the distance and Cariblue beach close by, Chris decided to stop and make a speech. We were all so moved and touched that he would take the extra time to thank everyone. After this emotional speech, Chris pushed forward to Smugglers Cove. At 6:43 PM, Chris Allshouse walked on shore! The air horn sounded and the crew cheered loudly from the 48 foot catamaran. He successfully became the first person to swim the east coast of Saint Lucia!!
He was greeted on the beach by staff of The Naked Fisherman with chilled Pellegrino and lime. Also there to greet him were guests dining at as well local media personalities. Chris was energetic and composed enough to complete an interview right on the beach. Julia, Alex, and X were eager to join Chris. Capt. Will positioned the boat so they could jump into the water and swim less than 20 yards to shore. The crew on the boat continued to cheer and shout. As the crew returned to marina, to clean up the boat, the joy and excitement filled the boat.
Despite the roughness this side holds, there are many challenges and perks to swimming along the coast of Saint Lucia! Despite the challenges to creating a marathon swim through the pandemic, I am every grateful for the opportunity to be part of this swim!
by Chris Allshouse
The conversation for a marathon swim for 2020 started in my household roughly a year in advance of this event. The discussion with my wife, Julia, was what does one do when turning 50? The easy answer is buy a sports car – my answer was swim a channel. The swim we put together with Sue Dyson and the St Lucia Channel Swim Association is not what we originally planned. I won’t go into the obvious details but suffice to say Covid 19 has affected many lives in many ways this year. It was June of 2020 that Sue and I communicated on a plan to make a swim happen. It was November of 2020 that we realized St Lucia to Martinique was off the table due to restrictions. There in lies the driver to develop this course from the town of Micoud to the beach at Smugglers’s Cove on the Atlantic side of St. Lucia.
Planning the swim was not a challenge for me. The hardship of planning fell on Sue Dyson as well as family. My job was swim, train, and be prepared to swim at the end of November. What we did not know for much of the time is whether it would be course A, B, or C. I decided to swim the route on the eastern side of St. Lucia for a couple reasons: 1) This was water similar to the channel with all the challenges that an Atlantic Ocean swell can offer 2) This route had not ever been swum.
The travel to St. Lucia was as smooth as one could hope for in 2020. This is our first trip to this beautiful island. The sights, the people, the experience is everything a visitor could hope for. The details of such are for another time another forum. This trip was made with my family (Julia my wife, Alex my daughter 18, Xavier my son 15 ) and close family friend Hannah Miller. This was my support crew from the day the decision was made to execute on such a swim. We arrived on the island on Wednesday, November 25th with a plan to swim Sunday the 30th. This gave us ample time to acclimate, work through details with Sue, and enjoy the tropics. We were blessed to get to know Sue and her son Shaq thanks to the extra time we had before the event.
On Saturday, November 29, 2020 we took a taxi to the marina at Rodney Bay. There we met with an amazing crew that would guide us through the swim. Captain Willie, Danly, Eget, and Vanessa were poised to make this dream a reality. We sailed from Rodney Bay on the northeast end of the island at roughly 1:00 am. We travelled south along the western side, past a moonlight Pitons, and around the southern tip of St. Lucia. The plan was to rest as much as possible before starting a swim. When the catamaran turned the southern tip of the island the Atlantic Ocean greeted us with swells that while normal were more than I had anticipated. This made “resting” to be a challenge.
We arrived near the starting point around 6:00 am on the 30th. The plan was to find a suitable starting point for the swim. This turned out to be an uninhabited beach at Fond Bay. The swells in my mind were beyond my planned expectations. This provided an extra sense of anxiety at the start. At 6:30 in the morning I jumped in a dingy with Danly and headed to shore. As an added safety feature the local police sent a boat with three smiling officers to provide an escort for the first few hours. I want to extend a heart full thank you to St. Lucia for embracing this effort.
Just after 6:30 am the horn sounded from the catamaran and the swim had begun. As I headed out into the Atlantic she firmly greeted me with a repeated swell coupled with wave chop. The waters were comfortably warm and the skies beautiful blue with scattered cloud cover. The first two hours turned out to be the most challenging of all for me. This was not due to fatigue but rather the mental aspect of getting used to the wave action I was to immersed in for the next 24 miles.
After the initial few miles I was able to adjust mentally and physically to the sea. At that point I settled into a cadence that was sustainable for the duration of the swim. At times the swells felt to gain momentum. I believe this occurred in areas of hard rock / cliff coastline. In these spaces I enjoyed a swell from the Atlantic side and reverberated waves from the rock . Twice during the day Mother Nature provided a cooling squall coupled with an additional wind gust. As fortune would have it these squalls at lease produced a secondary swell that was in my favor for a short period.
I did consume a little more sea water than I would have preferred. The amount of sea intake made forced an adjustment on nutrition planning to add more solids and plain water with less Infinit powder. I had to flush the salt from my stomach. The adjustments worked well and we continued on. At the half way point we turned from due north to a northwest direction. The conditions were the same but an emotional hurdle at 6 hours was met. Basically this gave me the ability to say “almost done” with only 12 miles left to navigate. We pressed forward along the amazing uninhabited coast of North Eastern St. Lucia. In the last third of the swim I was joined by a school of juvenile Jack fish. They escorted me for nearly 45 minutes at 8 to 10 feet below my reach.
Finally after nearly 10 hours of swimming the crew pointed out the corner of the island and the point at which we would turn due west for the home stretch. At this point the end was near as Sue told me only 4.5 miles to go. The current and swell was rough at this point but knowing that the end was close bridged the gap of the physical challenge.
The final turn around the Cap brought familiar sight of Pigeon Island. I was joined by a full moon to light my way from the east. The swell was completely in my favor. The last mile was to enjoyed and cherished. I hope all get to feel emotions like that in their life. The finish onto the beach at Smuggler’s Cove was sweeter than I had dreamed. I was greeted by my friends from Cap Maison and The Naked Fisherman. They provided my favorite Pellegrino on ice. My wife and children literally jumped off the cat and swam clothes and all to the shore a joyful embrace. The most perfect ending to an epic journey.
I was so incredibly fortunate the have the perfect crew. Eget and Vanessa had selflessly given me their day and prayers for a safe journey. They cared for my well being and provided motivational words at every breath. Will and Danly captained the cat with precision and grace in a relentless Atlantic Ocean. The words of “you got this” boomed at feed stop. Our close family friend Hannah Miller was there from the day the training began to every feeding stop along the way. She offered support, positivity, and media coverage beyond my anything I could have asked. Sue Dyson and her son Shaq gave more than anyone can imagine to create this event. They are incredible people that I am so very fortunate to know and be able to call my friends. My children, Alex and Xavier; have endured long training sessions, crazy conversation, mixed with balancing all that life requires with unwavering support. My wife Julia, “My Rock”, without hesitation immersed herself into this adventure. She is the love of my life and with her anything is possible. The love for this crew is what provided the strength to push through the toughest times on the swim. They will always have a place in my heart and soul, for this event is one that WE accomplished together.
Primary sources of fuel are INFINIT Powder – 2 scoops mixed with 20 ounces of ice / water in squeeze bottles.
Consumption will be ½ bottle every 30 minutes – full bottle per hour
Bottle 1, 2, 3 will be St Lucia Grape blend which is non caffeinated.
Bottle 4 will be Watermelon Caffeinator blend.
Bottle 5, 6 will be St. Lucia Grape.
Starting at bottle 7 alternate Watermelon Caffeinator with St Lucia Grape.
Have plain ice water available for each feed to supplement hydration as desired.
Starting at hour (2) offer GU Gel Packs – all non caffeinated for the first half of the swim.
Starting at hour (2) offer Picky Bars as solid food cut ( torn ) into small pieces and placed in empty water bottle with tether – this is the only solid food I plan to consume during the swim.
I will have potato chips, additional solid foods on board in the event hunger becomes an issue.
I will have tums antacid on board for use in the event the nutrition causes an acidic reaction. I have used this protocol for training and racing so no concerns with reactions.
Click to enlarge.
Reading of the Rules
- The Independent (Massillon, Ohio): Stark County swimmer makes history on 23-mile swim in St. Lucia