NORDLAND — At high noon Monday, 100 hearty souls ignored the temperature, took a breath then jumped from a dock during the annual polar bear dip in front of the Nordland General Store on Marrowstone Island.
The Marrowstone dip has been an ongoing event since 1995, and several people have done it every year in celebration of the new year.
Sue Rose, owner of the store with her husband, Tom, reported the water temperature was 42 degrees. The air temperature was 39.
“It’s warmer in the water,” she said laughing, with no intention of getting wet.
It took about 45 minutes for everyone who wanted to participate to either find the courage to do so or to be one of the first to take the leap. Some needed prodding; others were not successful.
“I love doing polar bear dips,” said Kristina Wilkening of Port Townsend. “Last year, I did it in Victoria and there was snow on the sand. It’s a lot different today. It’s so nice with the sun being out.”
“Honestly, it was nippy in the water,” she admitted, “but it didn’t take my breath away. I’m a get-in and get-out kind of girl. I don’t swim around. Today is absolutely gorgeous. It’s the best way to ring in the new year.”
Zach Devos from Portland, Ore., said if he were from Portland, Maine, this would be a breeze. It’s his third jump in the past three years.
“I always do a belly flop and decided since everyone is going in, I might as well do my belly flop on New Year’s Day.”
“I just went numb for about 30 seconds. As I was getting out I started to warm up.”
Angie Shires is from Marrowstone. Her boyfriend, Lue Bland, talked her into jumping with her clothes on “because he’s crazy,” she admitted.
“She’s never done this before,” Bland said. “I wanted to whisk her away and we’d jump together. I waited for everyone to clear out. It’s a great thing to do today.”
So with shoes off, they took the leap hand-in-hand, then rushed away to get dry and warm. There was no report if Shires will do it again next year.
After the excitement, Tom Rose served up Bob’s Bagels and his grandmother’s chili recipe that he prepared himself. As the crowd thinned, visitors stopped by to chat and reminisce about past jumps and next year’s dares.
Devos sported a new “Do the Dip 2018” knitted hat.
The air temperature climbed to 42 at 2 p.m. No one noticed.
Jeannie McMacken is a freelance writer and photographer living in Port Townsend.