Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Unexpected Swimming with Leviathan

We had an unexpected encounter with a humpback whale while we were swimming today.
I managed to get this picture of the leviathan on the leg between the Cal Poly Pier and the end of the Avila Pier, where the squiggle in the route occurred. I had stopped swimming to pull some seagrass from my goggles and to get a better look at the large number of seals that were in front of me. The whale came up for a breath 10 yards in front of me and continued on his way west towards the Cal Poly Pier. The photo was from the second time that he breathed after our encounter.

To begin, there was thin overcast, a weak sun and cool temperatures at Avila Beach. The air temperature was in the 50's and the water was 54.5 F / 12.5 C. The water was very clear and the surf small. Swimming were Niel, Heidi, Sue, Duke, Hillary, Jonny, John, Maria and Cherie who is friends with Dave Van Mouwerik, who was with us but not swimming. Peter Kelley also swam his usual solo route. 
There were a large number of seals and dolphins south and east of the end of the Avila Pier so we decided to swim on the west side; down to the last byou at the creek mouth, over to the Cal Poly Pier, back to the end of the Avila Pier and in to the beach for a 1.25 mile swim. 

Heidi, Hillary and Maria at the creek mouth

Cherie and Sue at the creek mouth. Since neither of them wear a 
wetsuit and are strong swimmers they didn't wait for the rest of us 
neoprenes and headed over to the pier on their own. 

Duke, Hillary, Heidi, Maria, Jonny and John at the Cal Poly Pier. 
Jonny, John and Heidi decided to head back the way we had come while 
Niel, Duke, Hilary and Maria continued to the end of the Avila Pier. 

Maria, Duke and HIllary arriving at the Avila Pier.  

The same spot. Duke, Hillary and Heidi "did you see that bus that swam by?"

Dave was watching us from shore and saw the exceptional excitement we had.

Dave was with us in the summer of 2015 when we had a close encounter with another humpback at almost the same location:

I had assumed that our 2015 experience was a once in a lifetime experience so I am at a loss to express how I feel about the second encounter.

We'll be swimming the Sunday after Thanksgiving.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Today's swimmers were John, Jonny, Niel, Karen, Maria, Hillary and Peter Kelley. As is his custom, Peter did his own solo swim.

We did a simple counterclockwise lap of the triangle today. Soon the buoys will will be pulled out for the winter so we decided to make use of the navigation aids while we can.
Hillary, Karen, Jonny (behind the water drop) and John
at the creek mouth.

The sky was gray overcast. There was no wind but a noticeable current and swell out of the SW. I measured a water temperature of 57 but I thought that it swan like 55. John though it was warmer than 57. The surf was 3' +/-. 

Duke, Hillary and Karen at the creek mouth.

We are looking for paddlers who could accompany us on a swim around the the rock off of Fossil Point in the next few weeks. Let's talk next Sunday and see if we can put a supported swim together.

There is a chance of rain late next week sbu it should not affect our swimming on Sunday.


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Sunday, November 5, 2017

While virtually all of the regular Dolphins were off doing the Morro Bay Tri Niel and Jim had themselves a for real open water swim on several accounts.
Conditions were sunny and warmish with small surf and 57 degree water. There was wind out of the SW that looked to be building. Karen had come to the beach but decided not to swim.

There were large areas of ugly brown/green water, either red tide or ? There were areas of nice clean blue water over near the creek mouth, the Cal Poly Pier and farther out, but the water near the beach looked yucky. There were also pelicans diving on bait fish, except instead of there being concentrated activity on a bait ball the birds were solo and dispersed, individually diving on fish from the surf line to the horizon. 

Jim and I decided to get in near the creek in the clean water, swim to the Cal Poly Pier and form a plan from there. As we got in the wind was picking up and we had ourselves a real slog directly into a building wind chop for the .4 mile to the pier. It was difficult to see where the brown water was so we headed for the end of the Avila Pier and hoped for the best. We never found even reasonable clean water and the chop coming over my right shoulder and head was tougher to deal with than taking it head on. 

This is Jim at the end of the Avila Pier. The water here was the worst. We didn't see many options for a clean swim back so we went in along the east side of the pier. Even in the lee of the pier the chop was significant. As we got into the surf line the water cleared up to a nice blue for the last 150 M to the beach.

By the time we were done changing the outside looked totally like a washing machine and the whitecaps were inside the surf. Except for the brown water this was a great swim.


Thursday, November 2, 2017

Maria and Pete's Alcatraz Swim

Hi Niel,
Here are some pics from the swim on October 22nd.
We had a beautiful day and good conditions for the swim.  Three boats dropped off approx 70-80 swimmers at Alcatraz for the trek back to shore. Didn’t hear the water temp during race briefing but 55-58 most likely. A few brave souls swimming sans wetsuits. 
Swam breathing to the right for most of the swim to avoid the glare from the sunrise over the Bay bridge. The Golden Gate was a sight to behold, lit up amber, in the early morning light, living up to its name. Swam with Pete for the first part of the channel swim, then he gained ground while to took pics and I could not catch him. Fort Mason was our sighting point, close to where I encountered a camera shy seal. The goal was to reach St Francis yacht club but the tide turned sooner than expected and after 90 mins in the water, no-one was getting anywhere swimming parallel to shore. Jumped in pick up boat for last 1/4 mile of 2 mile swim, then back in for landing at the beach.  Fantastic experience all round with great support!

Dave's Swim Around Angle Island

Dave Van Mouwerik's Swim Around Angel Island

I  was able to  complete the  swim, but  it  was very  difficult.  There were many forms of  adversity.
The water temp  was between 56 and 69 the whole swim,  mostly at 57 and  58.
Angel,  the  15 year  old who was to swim the  night before me, was unable  to  start, due  to  fog—her swim  was cancelled. ( I was counting  on learning more about the tides that would be experiencing, based on her swim the day before mine.)
I  came  away with a  healthy  respect for  the  power of  flood  tides and ebb tides,  and what they  do to a swimmer.
The  first 3  hours of  my swim  were in darkness, and in this swim I  had  a boat escort, but  no  kayaker or paddleboarder  with  me, so  I  felt an extra dose of isolation.
I planned on a 6hr 2 min swim,  but  when I finally touched back on the sand at Aquatic Park, 9 hrs  47 min had elapsed.
At one point, I  got  tapped or “pinged” by some little fish (maybe only two inches  long),  maybe  5 or 6  of them  over a 15 minute period, but it happened  in the darkness,  and it unnerved me.
Below  is a map of  the  idealized  route,  and  below  that is my actual  track.
Some things to  note:
·         This was a clockwise swim
·         When  I rounded Angel Island,  and got to  the southeast side of it, I had taken  5 hours two swim those 7 miles.  The  remaining 3 miles took  nearly 5 more hours  (4 hrs 47  min)
·         The odd little Curly Q on the southeast side of the island   has an explanation.  My  boat pilot with  in constant contact with Vessel  Traffic, and they kept him abreast of latest cargo  ship traffic.  They  let him know that a cargo  vessel would  be coming  through (inbound),  and we could not enter the shipping lane just south  of  Angel  Island  until it passed.  So  I had  to swim  around  for 40  minutes in  57 degree water, trying to  keep warm while waiting for the ship  to  pass; I got to the point where my teeth  were chattering and my body was shivering;  fortunately, once I was swimming  with a purpose again, after  the ship  passed, I warmed up  a bit (whatever that means when you’re in a speedo in  57  degree water…)
·         My  plan  for  the return swim to  be on the east side of Alcatraz was thwarted by  the ebb,  which kept pushing me  towards the Golden  Gate Bridge.  We crabbed mightily against it, but gained little advancement towards Alcatraz over about 1.5 hours. (I was virtually “swimming in place”.)   Eventually we ducked behind  the lee of Alcatraz on the west side (the lee  from the ebbing  tide), and scooted south before we entered the final  push  between Alcatraz and Aquatic Park.  By that  time the ebb was abating,  and we were able  to  cross that  final  1.1  miles with less of a crabbing effort that we put out on  the north  side of Alcatraz 
I  swam the final   2/10’s of a mile into  Aquatic  Park  by myself, since boats are not allowed in there.  From the  entrance to Aquatic  Park  the observer on the boat was able  to see me walk  out of  the  water to  dry sand, and so officially record the swim.  Then  I  re-entered the  water,  and  swam back out through  Aquatic Park to  the boat.
This was a fantastic experience, that I will treasure.  There were adversities aplenty, and the swim almost “cracked” me, but I was able to  prevail, and experience a potent sense  of accomplishment.
I remember hauling myself on the platform on the back of the boat, while the crew sprayed warm water on me  from a hose, while I just hunkered there;  relieved,  spent, joyful.

Gratitude to Davis  Best (crew chief), Evan  Morrison (Observer), Bryan Temmermand and Sylvia  Lacock (boat pilots).
“…And you will sense the presence of the divine salitter in the cerulean sea, and All will be well…” (John Hampsey)
Dave Van Mouwerik

Dave has told me that the records for this swim are a bit sketchy, but including his successful attempt there are 11 confirmed completed swims and at least as many DNF's.

Wednesday Evening, November 1, 2017

The Last of the Evening Swims for the Season

The switch back to 'normal' time this coming weekend will put an end to our Wednesday evening swims as it will be too dark too early for anyone with a regular work commitment to complete a swim before darkness.

It was a beautiful evening at Avila Beach with the sun behind thin clouds, no wind, knee high surf, a medium current parallel to the beach from right to left and 55 degree water.  NIel, Heidi and Maria swam down to Fossil Point and back.

Heid and Maria getting in
Heidi and Maria at the point.

Heidi and Niel at the point.
Heidi and Maria getting out with the 
rising moon over Maria's shoulder.

I'll be at Avila on Sunday rain or shine. A majority of our usual group will be doing the Morro Bay Tri so the swim group will be thin. 


Sunday, October 29, 2017

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Gray, cool, 5'+ sets, closing out, no wind, strong swell from the SW, 56 degrees but felt colder. 

I told John Hampsey, our resident professor of the English language, that I would write a Haiku about today's swim but didn't quite get there.
Swimming today were John Hampsey, Jonny, Amy, Heidi, Niel, Duke, Karen, Maria and John. This was John's first time swimming with us. 
John H., Amy, Duke, Karen, Maria, Heidi and John 
forming up at the first buoy

Heidi and Karen at the end of the pier.

Duke at the end of the pier.

Maria at the end of the pier.

Our last evening swim of the season will be this Wednesday, 11/1, at 5PM.


Friday, October 27, 2017

Wednesday Evening, October 25, 2017

After a blistering 100 - plus degree heat wave this week, it was a pleasure to arrive in Avila where it was a comfortable 75 F.  Hillary and Heidi swam today.  At 5:15 pm, we negotiated some mildly challenging surf on our way out to the first buoy on the east side of the pier.  

The Port reported 56.8 F water and that felt about right.  From the end of the buoy line we swam to the end of the pier.  We wanted to swim to an anchored boat on the west side of the pier but soon found ourselves surrounded by huge clumps of kelp and a moderate red tide.  Instead, we swam to the 2nd buoy.  

We were going to swim under the pier but our plans changed again.  When we attempted to swim between the pilings, the water moved us back and forth so much that it was difficult to maintain a line.  So we swam to shore on the west side of the pier as the sun disappeared behind the hills.  A very nice .87 mile swim.


Sunday, October 22, 2017

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Fall at Avila Beach: warm to hot on the sand, 55 degree water, strong offshore winds and larger waves than we see in the summer.  In the water today were Niel, Heidi, Jonny, Duke, Amy, Bo (Amy's brother from SoCal), Dave VanMouwerik, Sam, Sydney, Sue (back from England) and John.
The plan was to do a similar swim to last weeks; out to the end of the Avila Pier, over to the Cal Poly Pier, more or less straight back to and under the Avila Pier and in to the shore. 

The line parallel to the Cal Poly Pier is how far the wind pushed us out 
to sea in the 7.5 minutes that it took the group to reform.  The swim to the
Cal Poly Pier and back to the Avila Pier were across the chop. On the leg back 
to the Avila Pier I was on Duke's heels and the jogs in my trace are 
us zig zagging with the push from the chop and wind. 

Sue at the start. No wetsuit for her or Dave.

Sydney, Sam and Duke at the start.

Dave and Sue at the Cal Poly Pier
The group broke up at the end of the Avila Pier. Sydney and Sam went in.
Heidi was having impossible trouble with her goggles and had to cut her swim short.

Duke and Bo at the Cal Poly Pier
You can make up your own caption for this picture.

I think that this is Jonny, John, Amy, Duke and Bo (?)

This was a great a nice swim and a great workout, and, the beach was nice and warm afterwards.

Sue and Heidi will swim this Wednesday at 5:00. Everyone is welcome to join them.

Steve Dalke lives in Bakersfield and made the trek over to Avila to swim with us prior to attempting the 12.2 mile swim from Anacapa to Oxnard.  He did really well and was the 62nd person to complete this swim.  Congratulations! 


Monday, October 16, 2017

Sunday, October 15, 2017

It was a sunny and warm 78F at Avila today.  The water was glassy and calm with thick patches of red tide near the pier and buoy line.  Beyond this area to the west appeared to be clear water so Duke suggested swimming to the end of Avila pier then to Cal Poly pier.

Swimming today were Duke, Sam, Sydney, Karen, Maria, Pete, Peter Kelley, Heidi, John and Jonny.  Jonny's friend Sean joined us on his kayak.  The Port was reporting 59F water but we all agreed that it felt more like 56F.

Our swims were variable from the start.  After several weeks of competitive swimming, Sam & Sydney chose a laid back swim near the pier and along the buoy line.  Peter Kelley did his own swim, sans wetsuit, as usual.  Karen, Heidi, John, Jonny & Duke swam to the end of the pier then to Poly pier.  John & Jonny were accompanied by a curious sea lion during this leg of the swim.  

From the Poly pier, Karen and Heidi swam back to the end of Avila pier then into shore, while John, Jonny & Duke swam to the center and under Avila pier then to shore. 

Maria & Pete got a late start and eventually caught up with us, but I’m not sure which route they took.

The water between Avila and Poly piers was calm, clear & beautiful - a very nice swim indeed.

(the map I sent to you is the route Karen and I swam, 1.37 miles)


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Wednesday Evening, October 11, 2017

Heidi and Niel swam a mile down the beach to Fossil Point and back. The water was nice and clean with a temperature of 58 degrees. It was flat and calm with no current. Peter Kelley was getting in at the same time and we met up out by the buoy line and had a brief discussion about the water conditions.

Avila from the first buoy

We ended out swim at the first buoy just as the sun
dropped behind the hills at Port San Luis.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Sunday, October 8th, 2017

We had a nice group today with two guests from Southern California. Dena (and Eric) from Pasadena and Courtney, from Redondo Beach (?) were visiting the Central Coast and joined us. Courtney does tris and has been swimming for two years. This was Dena's first ocean swim. The rest of the group was Niel, Amy, Sara (with Ben and their daughter on the kayak), Heidi, Duke, Karen, Jim, Jonny, Maria and Pete.
Jonny, Pete and Maria get extra double points for having run the City to the Sea Half Marathon this morning before coming to the beach to swim.
It was overcast and cool at 10:30 but the sun came out as we began swimming.  The water was 58 degrees with medium red tide.
The plan was to start out on a clockwise triangle, which would give our Southern California swimmers a chance to get comfortable and to complete the triangle for a mile or, if anyone was interested, to add in some additional distance.
Dena swam the first leg to the end of the buoy line and back to the pier, which was great for a first ocean swim.
At the creek buoy Niel, Jim and Maria chose to swim over to the Cal Poly Pier and back, adding .6 mile to their swim while the rest of the group returned along the buoy line to complete a 12 mile swim. 

I think that the white cap is Courtney, don't know who is in green,
Ben and daughter in the kayak.

Dena, Sara, Heidi, Karen and a white and pink cap.

Courtney and Duke at the end of the Avila Pier. 

Jonny, Heidi, Ben  and someone in a yellow cap.

Courtney waiving to HIllary to prove that she made it to the swim.
Hillary had lined her up with a weekend of epic riding and swimming. 

Jim and Maria at the Cal Poly Pier.

With the leg over to the pier we covered 1.61 miles.

There will be a swim Wednesday evening, in the water at 5:30. That is just about enough time to do a mile in before the sun drops behind the hills. There will not be many more evening swims, just whatever we can manage before the time changes on November 5th.