Swim­ming for the Kyle

Libby Earle com­pletes fourth swim to iconic boat in Har­bour Grace


St. John’s na­tive Libby Earle was the first to dip her feet in the chilly wa­ters of Con­cep­tion Bay on Sept. 14.

Earle was closely fol­lowed into the frigid sea by fel­low Car­bon­ear na­tive Joyce Udell, Sandy Mor­ris, Bill Mitchell and Cory Pen­ner.

The cadre of swim­mers had one goal — to reach the S.S. Kyle some 150 me­tres off­shore.

Earle is the daugh­ter of the ship’s last cap­tain, Capt. Guy Earle.

It was the fourth Swim to the Kyle event and the ele­ments were work­ing against the group.

“It was the rough­est one yet,” said Earle.

A northerly wind was blow­ing, caus­ing a slight cur­rent that would take the swim­mers off course from the de­sired des­ti­na­tion.

Un­de­terred, the swim­mers started their trek to­wards the sto­ried ves­sel. The swim took some 30 min­utes to fin­ish, as par­tic­i­pants, un­der the watch­ful eye of res­cue pro­fes­sion­als and a film crew, pro­gressed out to the ship, touched the bow and then re­turned to shore.

Earle said the jour­ney was a lit­tle more dif­fi­cult this time around.

The wet-suit Earle was wear­ing was un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally tight around her neck and there was a time, halfway through the swim, that she did not think she would com­plete her goal.

“It wasn’t my en­ergy, it was that I couldn’t breathe,” she said.

How­ever, get­ting some help from an­other swim­mer, Earle solved the wet-suit is­sue.

Next up, was bat­tling the cur­rent. It was push­ing the swim­mers to­wards the hull of the Kyle.

“I had to swim up farther to give me some lee­way,” she said. “Or, it could’ve pushed me right against (the ship.)”

The wind sub­sided briefly enough for Earle to touch the hull, and then she started her jour­ney back.

Reach­ing the shore, Earle, joined by Mor­ris, and drip­ping wet, raised her hands in the air and shouted “Save the Kyle!”

Once all five swim­mers had got­ten back to shore, lo­cal artist Cor­rina Fa­hey un­veiled a com­mem­o­ra­tive paint­ing she did for the 100year an­niver­sary en­ti­tled “S. S. Klye: Re­flect­ing 100 Years.”

Week­end cel­e­bra­tion

“Ev­ery­thing my hus­band and I have been work­ing to­wards for years … it’s fi­nally tak­ing root.”

— Libby Earle

The Swim to the Kyle event was just one of four put off by the S.S. Kyle His­tor­i­cal Foun­da­tion, in con­junc­tion with the var­i­ous lo­cal her­itage foun­da­tions, in Bri­gus, Car­bon­ear and Bay Roberts last week­end.

It was the 100th an­niver­sary of the Kyle be­ing put into ser­vice.

It started with an event at the Rorke Stores Mu­seum in Car­bon­ear, fol­lowed by the swim and a pres­ti­gious din­ner at Scrun­chions Restau­rant in Bay Roberts and “Re­mem­ber­ing the Kyle” at St. Ge­orge’s Her­itage Church in Bri­gus.

Each event paid trib­ute to the work done by the ship and its crew be­tween 1913 and 1967, when she ran aground.

“Ev­ery­thing my hus­band and I have been work­ing to­wards for years … it’s fi­nally tak­ing root,” said Earle. “Some­times, I have to pinch my­self.”

The goal is to es­tab­lish an an­nual se­ries of events that will cel­e­brate the men and women who worked on and de­pended on the Kyle.

To kick-start this work, Earle and her foun­da­tion re­ceived its first of­fi­cial do­na­tion from Pat Quinlan, a friend of Capt. Earle.

If any­one is in­ter­ested in do­nat­ing to the Kyle, con­tact the S.S. Kyle Her­itage Foun­da­tion in Har­bour Grace or visit the web­site http://www.sskyle.com.

Photo by Nicholas Mercer/the Com­pass

Libby Earle (left) and Sandy Mor­ris raise their arms in cel­e­bra­tion af­ter the two rise from the wa­ter in Har­bour Grace on Sept. 14 af­ter swim­ming to the S.S. Kyle and back. The event was a part of a se­ries of week­end ac­tiv­i­ties aimed at cel­e­brat­ing the 100th birth­day of the sto­ried New­found­land ves­sel.

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