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.”
“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.
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.