AS I approach the edge of the crumbling Victorian bathing platform at Peaked Tor Cove, I scan the waters of the Bay.
They are dark and unwelcoming. The sea is choppy with what I can only describe as a huge swell. There are things floating gently below the surface and a fellow swimmer has just spotted purple-y brown jelly fish.
What have I got myself into, I wonder. Now is perhaps the time to step back from the brink of this craziness and turn away. Any shame of whimping out would be easier to bear than making my wife a widow and my twins orphans.
Then again, I have agreed to join Matt Newbury and Sophie Pierce on their weekly wild swimming outing.
We met earlier at Beacon Cove car park and walked the short distance to Peaked Tor Cove, through the Imperial Hotel grounds and down a footpath to the ancient platform with the wobbly railing.
"Please don't lean out against the railing," shouts Sophie as the group of 12 or so swimmers gathers for a pre-swim photo. "And remember you do this at your own risks." Nothing like a health and safety disclaimer to put wild swimming virgins like me at ease.
Sophie and Matt have been swimming in the sea and in the rivers of South Devon for more than a decade but only met up when work brought them together and they started sharing their hobby.
Sophie is a reporter with BBC radio Devon and Matt works for Hannahs at Seale Hayne and has been organising Torbay Gay Pride for many years.
They have since built a following of like-minded people who enjoy swimming in the wilderness and the Devon Wild Swimmers Facebook group was born.
The friends have also written a book together to show people that there is a world beyond the lovely beaches of Tor Bay. Beyond the Beach - The Secret Wild Swims of Torbay, which is published by Shoal Project Ltd, takes you on a tour of the best and most beautiful spots around our Bay where caves, sea life and other curiosities will entice the wild swimming newcomers and thrill seeking experts alike.
I look across the Bay towards Torquay and I notice caves below Corbyn Head and Livermead. It is like the red rocky headlands have been pockmarked with holes. Just there, above the waterline. Forgotten like secret treasures awaiting rediscovery.
"It's best to explore them at high tide," says Matt. "They were well known during Victorian times and were called the Hindu Caves. They are beautiful. "It is always a thrill to explore caves and nooks and crannies in the cliffs. But people have forgotten what lies beyond the beach."
Later, as I pant and spit and cough on the platform after our wild swim to and from London Bridge Arch, Matt has this wry smile. "Maybe for a first time we should have taken you to see the caves at Livermead. It's a lot easier. You'll see everything from now on will seem easier."
I certainly hope so for I thought I was going to drown, exhausted and flapping, crying tears of fear and salt.
But no. I didn't drown obviously, and in fact, although this little watery escapade made me realise how unfit I am, I rather enjoyed it. It was exhilarating, liberating and a great way to discover the forgotten secrets of Tor Bay's coastline.
It took us about 40 minutes to swim from Peaked Tor Cove, through Saddle Rock, on top of which a concrete platform was erected for high diving training back in the early 1900s, onto to London Bridge Arch and back.
Matt was the first in the water. No goggles. No wetsuit. Just a splash into the dark sea and off he went.
I was next. Goggles. Brand new straight out of the box wetsuit and shoes and there I slipped into the sea.
I can't take the cold. I seize up and start breathing erratically which quickly turns into panic, hence the investment in the wetsuit.
I may look like a condom stuffed with walnuts but I am not cold and that's the main thing. What a difference not being cold in the water makes. Now I can be with my children as they paddle about and try their new birthday bodyboards.
The suit was perfect. I couldn't feel the water and it improved my buoyancy which when you think you are going to drown is a bonus.
However it does restrict you movements a bit. It's like swimming fully dressed. But warmth was all that mattered and I am glad of the purchase.
I started following Matt as rest of the group waded into the water including wild swimmers who decided to join the group even though they are not members.
I didn't think it could be so tiring. Swimming against the waves trying not to take a battering as you turn your head to breathe is tough and takes some getting used to.
Not knowing how deep the water below your feet is, not seeing the bottom, not seeing what's lurking beneath is scary. This is the great primal fear of the wild unknown, what lives in the depths, perils, sharks, giant squids and other monsters from another age, things that could reach up and snatch you down to your watery grave.
The sea has always conjured up images of dread. I like looking at it but I don't like being on it which has stopped me from swimming in the sea before.
But tonight as I made my way to London Bridge Arch and back, I swam through my fears. I battled the waves as much as my demons.
Swimming in the sea is the perfect remedy to daily life stress. You have to leave it safely behind to concentrate on not drowning and reaching the shores in one piece.
That's the irony of the evening's excursion. I am a good swimmer but never did I feel I was actually swimming. It was more like controlled drowning.
I exaggerate of course because Matt, Sophie and the others were looking out for me and for each other.
We were never far away from the rock face and at times when I tired, and on the return leg of the journey I did flag on several occasions, I always managed to hang on to the rocks for dear life and a short rest.
Swimming in the sea or river is for everyone and it is free.
But there are a few safety tips to follow such as swimming with someone else in case you run into trouble, wearing a swimming hat so it looks like you are there on purpose and always ensuring where you are going has several exist points so you can reach safety quickly an easily.
The swim to London Bridge Arch and back is the perfect example.
It takes you past a disused quarry where a group of youngsters were jumping into the sea, and is easily accessible.
Then the arch itself. It's a massive structure which defies gravity and takes you through the aeons of the Bay's geology. It is impressive and well worth the detour. "We usually come here when it's calm and flat to have a swim and a laugh," says Matt. "But it is a bit choppy today."
As I struggle to keep afloat, to keep my head above water, he adds. "Don't stress. Have a float. Look up. Enjoy." And true. It is amazing.
Beyond the arch is a cove with a cave looping through the rock face back to London Bridge and further away is the Devil's Hole, which, with its ghastly red rock entrance, does look like the mouth into the Underworld.
Both were submerged by the tide so back the same way we went. Through the arch, past the quarry. Flagging twice. Through the Saddle. Flagging twice. Through the jelly fish infested bit. Flagging again but with no possibility of reaching anything but the shore ahead. So on, I paddled doggy style. Flagging.
I can't see anything through my steamed up goggles. Then the shore at last. My heart is threatening to explode. It is pounding pounding pounding.
There is sea water in my mouth. I stumble onto the platform. I stand the best I can. I feel exhausted. I feel exhilarated.
A final photo of us all. Then back to the car. I will come back again. I fear I'm hooked on that wild swimming business. Hindu Caves here I come.
To buy a copy of Matt and Sophie's book Beyond the Beach visit www.secretwildswims.wordpress.com The book is available also from Torbay Bookshop in Paignton, the Totnes Bookshop, the Quayside Bookshop in Teignmouth and the House of Fables in St Marychurch.
* Meanwhile a fun new swim event will be taking place in Paignton on Saturday September 21, aimed at celebrating the joys of swimming in this beautiful corner of the South West.
The Paignton Pier to Pub Swim is an accessible swim perfect for those who haven't been swimming for years, as well as those who take a dip on a more regular basis.
The event is supporting the Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust and the important work they do protecting the marine environment of Torbay. Entry is just £15 per person and limited to 300 participants, with online registration at http://www.countryside-trust.org.uk/events/details/91/wild-swim-torbay