Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunday, March 19, 2017

This Sunday Avila Beach looked and felt more like winter but had some new indications of spring. Instead of hot and sunny with offshore winds and a 50 degree water temperature we had cloudy and cool conditions with no wind and water that was up to an estimated 55 degrees.  

It was Amy's 65th birthday so she got to choose the route. She picked the triangle counterclockwise.  I left my GPS at home so today's plot is from Duke's Strava account.

We started with six swimmers, Duke, Niel, Amy, Jonny, John and Jim and gained two, Pete and Maria at the halfway point. On the beach and who was great to see again was Sylvia Glenn. She was here to get her beach fix and will be getting back in with us when the weather warms up a bit.

Jim and Amy at the start.

Duke and Jonny 

I took a couple of pictures of the damaged pilings that contributed to the closing of the pier. 

Duke, Amy, Jonny, John and Jim at the creek mouth

Pete, Duke, Maria, Jim, John, Jonny and Amy at the end of the pier.
The water was extremely clear for Avila Beach, I could clearly see detail on the bottom at 6 to 8 feet. Nobody had numb toes and considering that the overcast sky will make it feel colder than it is, the consensus was that the water temperature was about 54 - 55.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Sunday, March 12, 2017

It is suddenly spring at Avila Beach. 

There was nothing but sunny, windy and warm weather earlier in the week and it finished up with a summer day at the beach. It was warm with a very light wind. From the pier I measured a water temperature of 52 degrees in the surf line. 

The creek and the ocean water was nice and clean so we decided to swim the triangle. This was a 1.24 mile swim the way we did it today. 

Swimming today were Niel, Duke, Jim, Sydney, Sam, Jonny and John. Mark kept us company on his SUP.  We got a surprise getting in when the water temperature dropped about 2 degrees when we passed the surf line. Cold indeed!

Mark herding everyone together at the left end of the beach.
Sydney and Sam headed back along the beach from here.
Duke and Jim at the end of the pier. 

John and Jim performing a scientific experiment; are your toes colder in or out of the water?
I was just about comfortable with the temperature at this point. 
Duke and Jim at the mouth of the creek.
Jonny, Jim, John, Sydney, Sam, Dule and NIel

Every team needs a mascot and we have a warthog that Sam found on the beach..
This is the time of the year to think of doing some longer swims. Pat, Amy, myself and others are interested in swimming; out to the rock and back (1.5 miles), or maybe over to Smith Island (2.4 miles one way). For those swims we will need two and preferably three support paddlers. If anyone is interested in joining us to support a swim let me know at


Sunday, March 5, 2017

Sunday, March 5th, 2017

The creek was clean for the first time in weeks but it was raining in San Luis Obispo last night and into this morning, leaving some question about what the water quality would be today.. The sky was clearing when I arrived at Avila with patches of blue starting to appear. The water was flat with knee high waves and as the sky cleared the wind began to pick up. 
 Niel, Stephanie and Johnny took a (small) chance and got in.  

Stephanie and Johnny
I'd guess the water temperature was 52 or 53. By the time we got out and stopped along the pier the wind was kicking up and a chop was starting to build. Stephanie had not been in in some time so we chose a short course and would see how she felt.  

I'm pretty sure that Johnny and Stephanie are both in this picture,
but I can only find Johnny's white cap on the right.
 Swimming east parallel to the beach I could feel a strong push and then had water breaking over my head from behind. It was fun surfing the building chop but I was already thinking about what the swim back was going to be like. 
Johnny at our turnaround point. 

Stephanie arriving at the turnaround.
Welcome back Stephanie!

The swim back was a slog into the wind and chop. We stopped several times to group up and share tips on swimming in these conditions. I find it fun if I'm not swallowing too much water. Our swim was short but it felt like about the same effort as a flat mile so the distance was OK. Afterwards we had a cup of coffee on the beach before getting on with our Sunday afternoons.


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Hey, we got to swim today. The weather cleared, the creek is still dirty but our getting in time was just after high tide so all of the poo from the creek would be heading straight out to sea away from the beach, so , we planned a swim on the side of the pier opposite the creek. At high tide I can get an Avila Beach water temperature from the pier, so we knew that the water was 52 degrees. Access to the pier is limited to a short distance from shore because the pier has structural deficiencies that make it unsafe. Unfortunately, the  Port San Luis Harbor Commission which has responsibility for the pier has no plans to have it repaired.

Swimming today were Heidi, Amy, Niel, John and Johnny. Mark Olson joined us on his inflatable SIP.

Amy, Heidi and John wading in.In the background you can see on person on the pier and a light pole.
The barricade is between them. 

Mark ready to pick us up.

Heidi in the foreground then Mark and Johnny.
That is not a surf perch but my toes in the bottom of the picture.

Amy, John, Johnny and Mark. There wasn't much wind or chop but the swell
was rolling under us a long way off shore. 

John at the end of the pier.

Johnny, John, Niel, Amy and Heidi

Heidi has been following this swimmers blog about traditional open water swimming and thinks it is well worth reading. Also his photos are very nice.

by Donal Buckley


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday, February 19, 2017

There was no swimming at Avila Beach today.

The water quality was iffy and swimming was questionable, and then there was a sewage spill in San Luis Obispo that put thousands of gallons of raw sewage into San Luis Obispo Creek, so, definitly no swimming today.    :-(


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Sunday, February 5, 2017

This Sunday was a big change from last weekend, no more warm sun and crowds on the beach. It was overcast, about 50 degrees and felt very wintery. A new storm was coming in so we had a onshore wind, a swell out of the SE and some one foot chop. The waves were 2 - 3'+. The creek had dirtied up this past week so we stayed on the left side of the pier away from the creek mouth.  The water temperature was 52 degrees, but somehow felt better than last week, perhaps because today the air and water temperature were the same. 

Niel, Amy, Heidi, John and Johnny swam a triangle on the left side of the pier. Out along the pier I could really feel the push of the swell towards the beach. The second leg was across the chop, which was messy but fun and the last leg back to the pier we had a nice push from the swell.

Getting in.

John, Heidi and Johnny at the end of the pier. 

Amy, Heidi, John and Johnny (floating on his back) 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sunday, January 29, 2017

After almost a month storms (and very welcomer rain) of swims washed out by water loaded with debris and bacteria, we got a beautiful Sunday at Avila Beach. A lot of people must have agreed because the beach was crowded like a summer's day.  The port had been hauling off the accumulation of driftwood and trash but there were still acorns and walnuts on the beach that came down the creek and a black dusting of oil particles the large surf had tossed up from the ocean. The bottom had been recontoured so it was almost flat, I just kept walking out further until it was finally deep enough to start swimming.
Late week samples by Surfrider and the County had bacteria levels in the creek and ocean well below limits so we were OK getting in. There was a light wind that gave the water a little bit of surface action. Waves were 2 to 3 feet.
Getting in today were Niel, Heidi, Amy, John, Johnny, Sydney and Clara. The reported water temperature over at the port (about 1.3 miles to the west) was 55 degrees but as we waided in my toes told a story more like the low 50's. Heidi had her new thermometer watch so we had a reading during the swim of 51 degrees which seemed about right.  We swam out and down to the creek mouth, to the end of the pier and in for a distance of .91 miles. 

Getting in

John, Heidi and Sydney

Clara, Johnny and Amy

John, Sydney, Clara, Johnny, Heidi and Amy

John's foot, Sydney, Amy, Johnny, Heidi, Niel and Clara

Johnny, Heidi, Amy, Clara, John, Niel and Sydney
 Rain is predicted for late this coming week so swimming next Sunday is on hold until we see if the water stays clean.


Monday, January 9, 2017

Sunday, January 8, 2017

We did not swim this Sunday. The recent storms had loaded up San Luis Obispo Creek with silt and bacteria so we stayed out of the water. 

The local Surfrider Chapter's Blue Water Task Force samples the mouth of San Luis Obispo Creek on Thursday and found Enterococcus bacteria levels more than 60 times the state recommended maximum. Enterococcus is the EPA's lead indicator for the presence of human waste.

You can see all of the BWTF results at


Sunday, January 1, 2017

January 1, 2017

It looked and felt wintery at Avila Beach today. Clouds were moving in, there was a light breeze out of the SW and the air temperature was in the low 50's which would turn out to be the same as the water temperature.  Swimming today were Niel, Amy, Sydney, Sam, Heidi and John Hampsey. Rob Dumouchel and Allison Baine were in town and joined us on the beach.  We decided to swim on the left side of the pier and would start out parallel to the beach. This would be the coldest swim of the year so far and people would need an opportunity to acclimate or cut their swim short.

Rob, Sydnes, Niel, Sam, Heidi, Amy and John
 The water was quite a shock to my feet so I was guessing a water temperature of 52 or so.

John, Heidi, Amy and Sydney before we started along the beach.
Sam had found the water temperature to be just too uncomfortable. 

Sydney at the end of the first leg parallel to the beach. She was the only one wearing a shorty wetsuit and small goggles and had been swimming with her head up or doing the backstroke because she couldn't keep her face in the water.  

John at the same spot

Amy and Heidi, at the same spot.
Heidi and Sydney were getting cold and returned back along the beach while Niel, John and Amy swam to the end of the pier and came in along the pier to the beach. Amy was getting cold so I doubled back to her several times so I could both keep swimming and keep track of her. 

Sydney and Sam finished up by jumping in with the Avila Beach New Year's Day Polar Bear Swim
After everyone had left the beach the sun broke through and made some nice patterns on the water. 

We will be swimming next Sunday unless the tentatively predicted large rainstorm dumps like it might, the creeks rise and dirty up and we stay out to avoid the dirty water.


Neoprene booties and gloves review by Heidi Bezaire:

Hi Niel,

Well, the gloves and booties I wore were a flop.  While they did keep me toasty warm for the first 5-10 minutes, they they filled up with water and became heavy.  I think the material I chose is too thick (3mm neoprene) and they weighed me down, I was just sloshing around inefficiently.  Good for surfing, not for swimming.  Oh well, it was worth a try.
So, I plan to swim without them next time and, as usual, exit when I’m getting cold and deal with the frozen feet & hands afterwards.  It is much more fun to swim this way than with soggy sponges on my hands and feet.