If you haven’t heard about it before, the Penguin Plunge is a longstanding Deep Cove tradition. According to the North Shore News this will be the 34th year that people have gathered in Panorama Park on New Year’s day to throw themselves into the ocean. We met with one of our regular paddlers who is also a regular plunger, Gill Homan, to find out what keeps her coming back to Plunge every year.

Deep Cove Kayak: Hi Gill, how long have you been taking part in the Penguin Plunge?

Gill Homan: For about 15 years now, and it seems I’ve been doing it for so long I can’t NOT do it. If people dare to ask if I’m doing it again I have to tell them I am!

Gill plunges 2003
Gill in 2003 at one of her first plunges

DCK: And what keeps you going back?? Surely doing it once is enough?!

GH: I LOVE that so much of the Community comes together to do something like this. It’s just the best way to spend New Year’s Day in this place where I live and where I play, so starting the year off here and having so much fun just appeals to me, so I come back every year.

I have some friends who come with me regularly, and some who have just done it once. Usually it’s easier to persuade the kids to join in, but some of the adults love it too. We have a great tradition of all meeting up, drinking coffee (with whiskey in it to keep you warm of course), plunging, and then going to a friends’ place afterwards for hot beef dip sandwiches. I think if the dip sandwiches ever stop being part of the day, so will I!  

DCK: And what is the plunge like itself?

GH: Well, I have to make sure that I go all the way in and SWIM. There are some people who just go up to their knees, but to do it properly I think you need to plunge. And the cold water isn’t too bad – I think that my childhood holidays on the East coast of England were good training; if you can stand to swim in the North Sea you can swim anywhere! Doing the Plunge brings back good memories for me that’s for sure, I’ve even been known to swim twice. And afterwards you can warm your bum on the bonfire 🙂

Gill post penguin plunge 2007
Gill post plunge in 2007

DCK: Good tip! Have you got any other words of wisdom for people who may not have done it before?

GH: It’s usually a good idea to wear something on your feet in case you encounter rocks, and then you need to keep your elbows out as it can get pretty busy in the crowd. I usually wear a silly hat so my friends can recognise me in the melee. I even made the cover of the North Shore News once!

DCK: And do you raise money for North Shore Rescue by getting pledges for your plunging?

GH: I certainly do – and I encourage everyone who comes with me to as well. It’s a great cause, but the main thing for me is the Community. You tend to see so many people you know, it really is a wonderful way to spend your New Year’s Day. Come and join me!

So, if you, like Gill, want to spend New Year’s Day plunging yourself into the ocean (or just watching people who do!) head to Panorama Park in Deep Cove on January 1st. We’ll be there from 12.30pm with Gary Comeau & the Voodoo Allstars, costume judging is at 1.30pm and the Plunge itself happens right at 2pm. Happy New Year!!

Penguin Plunge Poster