Monday, April 23, 2018

Sunday, April 22, 2018

We had a beautiful day for a swim. Avila was warm and sunny with no wind. The surf was small and the water was 52 degrees. Today's crew consisted of NIel, Heidi, Tom, Matti, Chris, Karen, Irana, Amy, John, Jonny, Lee and Maria. 
The route was to swim east down the buoy line, to the end of the Avila Pier, over and around an anchored sailboat, back to the end of the pier and in along the pier.  There were at least three variations by the individual groups.  I pretty much did the planned swim and covered 1.2 miles.

Sadly, my Richo WG-20 waterproof camera that has served faithfully for many years has succumbed to its continual immersion in salt water, so there won't be any photos for the blog until I have sourced a replacement.


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Sunday, April 15, 2018

We had springlike conditions today at Avila Beach. It was gray with clearing overcast, cool, no wind, 2' to 3' waves with clear and cold water. The water temperature was 50 to 52 degrees and the swimming conditions were excellent.  Swimming were regulars Niel, Jonny, Karen and Duke who were joined by Tom and Sue whe we haven't seen in a while and we were joined by Matti and Ivana. Matti is a strong swimmer but this was her first swim with us and Ivana's first ocean swim ever. The buoys are in. All eight have been replaced with new ones that are easier to see.
The plan was to swim the buoy line but immediately broke up into 3.5 different swims; Niel, Jonny and Karen did the swim in the plot. Duke and Ivana went down a few buoys and back but spent a half hour in the water getting used to this ocean thing.  Tom, Matti and Sue (the fastest swimmers) also followed the route in the plot but at the end of the pier Tom and Matti went to the last buoy at the creek and back to the start while Sue (with no wetsuit) swam over to the Cal Poly Pier and back to the start on her own. The extra time in the water was not an issue for her. Sue lives in London and drops in with us when she is here visiting her son. She swims in the Long Water in Hyde Park year round and admittedly stops getting in when the water drops below 7°C, which is 44.6°F. She thought today's conditions were 'lovely'.

Qualifications for the lifeguards were underway.

That is Matti and Karen at the first buoy with Jonny, 
Tom, Duke, Ivana and Sue in the background

Jonny, Karen, Duke, Ivana and Matti at the first buoy.


Karen back at the start

Jonny back at the start


Sunday, April 8, 2018

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Today's conditions were offshore breezes, a very low tide at 12:10 2 to 4' surf and clean and cold water. I measured 54 degrees in the knee deep water from where I can stand on the pier. Out past the surf line it felt like 52ish.
In the water today were Niel, John, Jonny, Amy, Heidi and Haley. Haley is a college swimmer who joined us today for her first ocean immersion prior to a Alcatraz swim with five friends.  She was smiling when we got out.
We swam out, turned east and swam parallel to the beach to the end of the sea wall. Swam to the end of the pier and over a reef we don't usually notice. The tide was low enough that we found ourselves in the kelp and almost grounding on the rocks. The reef is visible in the route map, it's the dark spot near the start of the leg towards the end of the pier. From the end of the pier we swam back around an anchored sailboat (in the top photo), around the boat and to the beach for a nice mile plus.
Amy, grouping up at the start

along with Heidi, 


Haley and


Haley, Heidi and John at the end of the Avila Pier.

Duke rode by and we spoke for a bit. He took a tumble and cracked a rib so he is not swimming for a while.  Dude, be safe with those peddlers and keep  shiny side up, rubber side down.

John, Amy and Heidi will be out of town next weekend. Jonny and I will be swimming with anyone else who cares to join us.


Sunday, April 1, 2018

Sunday April First, 2018

Avila Beach was trying to clear off the overcast when we were getting in the water. The water temperature was 52 to 54, flat, with no wind and 2+ foot surf. 
Duke, Sue (mom of) Sam & Sydney, Karen, Heidi, Maria, Amy, John and Jonny 
and Niel behind the camera
 Everyone swam out, under the pier and down to the mouth of the creek. John, Jonny, Sydney and Amy swam to the end of the Avila Pier, to where the last buoy would be on the east side of the pier and back parallel to the beach.  Niel, Duke, Karen, Heidi and Maria swam over to the Cal Poly Pier and back. Both groups covered a little over a mile. 

John, Jonny, Duke, Sydney, Karen, Amy, Maria and Heidi 
at the mouth of the creek. 

Maria, Karen, Heidi (and Niel) listening to Duke about his getting smoked by Sydney.
Duke you may have been a waterpolo star, but your mustache is white and she is 16.
You are going to have to get used to this.

When the other group was at the end of the Avila Pier John thought that he felt something swim across his feet. He yelled to the ocean that he was not an hors d'oeuvre!
Jonny was inspired to composed the following limerick:

An english professor named John,
Went for an ocean swim a mile long,
He said "I may have some nerve,
But I'm not an hors d'oeuvre", 
And then in one bite he was .........


Sunday, March 25, 2018

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Today's post is by Amy

We swam a kilometer today instead of a mile in honor of the Halifaxan contingent: Jonny, his dad Gerard, who accompanied the swimmers on surfboard, and brother Evan, who stalwartly guarded our stuff on the beach.

The rest of the motley crew of swimmers included Amy and John. We entered at low tide; the water temp was 49 to 50 degrees, tops. Jonny, John and Gerard all got tossed by a series of waves going in, which gave Amy a rare advantage in getting ahead of the pack. That first leg to the end of the pier was chilly, but we motored briskly. We swung toward the point, going wide of the reef buoy, and returned to a point high on the pier, at least midway or higher between the imaginary buoy line and the end.

The wind and swells between the pier and reef buoy (plus the temperature) made a challenging passage, as did the swim to the beach against a strong tide current. But we had the sun and clear water to cheer us. After we could feel our feet again on the beach, we agreed it was an altogether wonderful day.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Sunday, March 18, 2018

A drive by by this parasailer made it feel like summer. 

Niel, Heidi, Karen, Amy and Jonny swam today. Jonny's friend Shawn accompanied us in his kayak. Avila weas sunny and calm. The water temperature was 52 degrees, with small surf and no wind at the start of the swim. This was the first weekend that the lifeguards were on duty. The buoys are not in yet but I did get to say hello to Jon Harmse.
The route was out to the end of the Avila Pier, to the mouth of San Luis Obispo Creek, parallel to the beach to the approximate location of the most easterly buoy, back to the end of the pier and in. I clocked 1.61 miles with a wet to dry time of 58 minutes. We got split up getting everyone in the water. Amy, Karen and I stuck together and it was cold enough that we didn't wait for Jonny and Amy. 

Heidi and Karen at the end of the pier the first time. 

The same spot, just a selfie with Heidi and Karen in the background
 Amy has not been swimming in the ocean lately so she got out when she came under the pier. I'm not sure what Jonny did at that point.
Karen when we came under the pier. 

Heidi at the same spot.

Karen, Heidi and I swam to the approximate location of the most easterly buoy. Heidi returned along our route parallel to the beach. Karen and I swam to the end of the Avila Pier and came in along the pier. On the way to the pier it had clouded over and I began feeling colder. The wind had come up out of the SW so there was some chop to push into on this leg before ducking behind the pier so we had flat water for the last leg.

We are predicted to receive 4 to 6 inches of rain Tuesday through Thursday, so water quality conditions on the coming Sunday are iffy at this point. 
I will be out of town Thursday through Sunday, so I not only won't be swimming Sunday but I will not be able to collect water samples from the creek on Thursday, so anybody who is thinking about swimming on Sunday will have to fall back on licking a finger and sniffing the air to determine what the bug count is.
Heidi and Karen will also not be swimming this coming Sunday. 

Kris saw Sylvia Glenn at the Health Fair yesterday. She had a bad time with her asthma during the fires and then was down for a month with the flu. She is doing much better and we hope to see her back at the beach soon so we can celebrate a late 80th birthday with her in the ocean.


Sunday, March 11, 2018

Hiding From Bugs

It was raining Sat afternoon and on and off that night leaving everyone doubtful about the water quality. With no consensus, nobody swam.  

Back next Sunday.


Sunday, March 4, 2018

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

 Avila Beach stepped up with another beautiful day to swim, offering clear skys, small surf, a building wind out of the SW and cold water temperatures. I measured 52 degrees in the suds from the pier. Out past the surf line it felt like 50 -51 based on how long it took my face to freeze up sufficiently to no longer feel the cold. 

I was by myself and getting ready to get in when I noticed a woman putting on a swim cap. He name was Lindsey and she is a member of the Dolphin Club in San Francisco. We decided to swim parallel to the beach to Fossil Point and back. 

This is me where we began out return back to the pier. The water was nice and clean. The wind had come up enough to make a one foot ish breaking chop that made gave some character to the swim back.  


Jonny had arrived after we had gotten in and was trying to chase us down but we managed to swim past each other and never see each other in the chop.

There is no rain in the forecast in the next week so we should have warmer air and water next Sunday.


Sunday, February 25, 2018

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Absolutely the Best Summer Day In February -

The beach was empty but Avila was just beautiful today. A gusty offshore breeze gave us a clear blue sky, the ocean was flat with knee high surf and if you got close to the seawall and out of the wind it was nice and warm. That offshore breeze had pushed the water temperature down to 50 to 51 degrees, making this the coldest water temperature that we have seen since last April.
I had surgery on my knee on 2/20 so I'm beached for a bit but Heidi, Duke, Karen, John and Jonny were here to swim. Their route was out to the end of the pier, over to the single buoy on the reef, which is the only one we have to swim to in the winter and doubling back for a total of just under a mile. Everyone thought the water was extra chilly but that the sun made things more comfortable than last weeks stormy conditions. 

Route map from Duke. 


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Changing Conditions - 

Late Sunday there was going to be a major change to the wonderful warm summer like weather we had been enjoying. High winds, 10 to 13' surf and a hard freeze were expected in San Luis Obispo with the changes starting Sunday evening. Things were starting to change at Avila Beach at 10:30 with clouds coming in and a messy chop that was pushed by a SE breeze. The water was very clean and 53 or 54 degrees. The breeze and the lack of sun would make it feel colder.  Swimming today were Niel, Sue, Heidi, Kurtis and John. We decided to do the triangle route counter clockwise. John and Heidi planned on going short. John was making his comeback from the flu and Heidi was worried about getting cold.  
I found (!) a bunch of interesting information about the swim below 
the pace and strokes information so I've included it

Sue at the stop at the creek mouth, having a wonderful time with no wetsuit.
The leg to the creek mouth is parallel to the beach
and was  bumpy and changeling but not bad. 

Niel, at the same spot. 

Heidi and Niel at the creek mouth

Kurtis, who has no regrets about wearing a 
Farmer John wetsuit at these temperatures.

Sorry, a very blurry photo of John Hampsey. 

Kurtis, Heid and John at the end of the Avila Pier. The wind had strengthened and shifted into the SW so this leg wa across a building chop. Things were starting to get interesting.

John and Heidi swam in to the beach along the pier. Sue swam towards Fossil Point while Niel and Kurtis swam to where the last buoy on the east side would be. They got a push that included occasional body surfing on this leg. Sue had gone farther east than Niel and Kurtis because she is a much faster swimmer and without a wetsuit doesn't want to idle in the water while we catch up. We regrouped and swam the last leg back to the pier parallel to the beach. This leg was just a steady push into the chop and current.

For those of you not familiar with the 'buoys' I refer to, in the summer there are a line of 8 buoys parallel to the beach, four on each side of the pier, that define a no boating zone. We use them as navigation aids and goals for some of our swims. The harbor district takes the buoys out in the winter to protect them from storm damage so when we swim those routes in the winter we swim to phantom buoy locations.

Swim Tomorrow?
No one who was at the beach today will be swimming tomorrow. 

Sue sent me a message that Sydney and Sam were doing great at the Junior Olympics. Sam is in Clovis and Sydney at UC Santa Cruz. 


Sunday, February 11, 2018

Sunday, February 11. 2018

We enjoyed a most excellent swimming day at Avila Beach. 
It was pleasantly warm, sunny and calm. The water was clear and 54 degrees with knee high surf. We enjoyed last Sunday's route so much that we decided to do it again today: out to the end of the Avila Pier, over to the Cal Poly Pier and back to the starting point for a mile plus swim that provides two 600+ M legs where a swimmer can stretch out. 

 We are at the end of the Avila Pier where we found that there was a bit of a chop running out of the SW. Tom, yellow cap in the middle, is providing directions to our destination point along the Cal Poly Pier. From the left that is Sue, Evan, Karen, Kurtis, Tom, Heidi and Jonny.  

I caught up with Sue, Tom and Evan at the Cal Poly Pier. 
They pushed on to the Avila Pier while I waited for the rest of the group.

After we got out and were at the showers a fog bank quickly rolled into Avila Bay all of the way to the surfline, reducing visibility to a quarter mile, then 30 minutes later it just as quickly withdrew to a point about a mile offshore. I've never seen that happen before.


Sunday, February 4, 2018

Sunday. February 4. 2018

Sunday was an absolutely beautiful day at Avila Beach no matter what you wanted to do. It was sunny, calm and warm but still cooler than in town. The water temperature at the pier was 55 degrees and the water clarity was close to the best that I have ever seen here; I could pick out individual shells on the botten in 10' to 15' of water. The surface was flat with 2 to 3' waves.
Today's route was 1.3 miles; out to the end of the Avila Pier, over to the Cal Poly Pier and back to our starting point.  Swimming today were Niel, Heidi, Amy, Tom, Sara, Chris and Jonny.  Today was Chris's first swim with us. Chris and his wife are relocating to San Luis Obispo from the Seattle area.

The back of Chris's head, Tom and Heidi at the end of the Avila Pier.

The 55 degree water temperature was questionable, 
so Tom had us vote for above, at or below 53.5 degrees. 

Tom's vote. Note: he is the only one wearing a Farmer John today.

Heidi, Chris and Jonny at the Cal Poly Pier.
Tom was off the front in order to keep warm.
Amy and Sara took a shorter route back to the beach.

If you are interested in the water quality at SLO County beaches take a look at 
I'm the program coordinator for the local Surfrider Chapter's Blue Water Task Force program. My volunteers go out every Thursday morning and collect water samples from creeks and beaches that are tested for the presence of Enterococcus bacteria. Enterococcus is the EPA's lead indicator for the presence of human waste. Our results are posted about midday Friday at the web address I provided above.


Monday, January 29, 2018

Sunday. January 28, 2018

I was out of town so today's post is by John Hampsey and Duke.

Avila blog   January 28, 2018
We had a solid swim group today for January, perhaps because of the unusually warm air and dazzling sun. The beach had the crowds of a June day and the air temperature was 80 degrees!
Swimming on this Sunday were Karen, Phil, Curtis, Amy, Sam, Sidney, Jonny, Heidi, Duke, and myself. The tides were extreme, as noted by the rock-strewn high water mark. And as we entered the sea at just after low tide we walked for quite a distance across a magically-extended sandbar. There were 1-2 foot waves and the water was clean and clear. The big surprise was the water temp of 50 degrees. This was the coldest water we have experienced in almost a year.

 Everyone swam east heading for the reef buoy, which made sighting easy but which also meant several swimmers had to wrestle with Proteus the ancient sea-god who was napping amidst the tangle of spiraling kelp. At that point, because of the unusually cold water, Amy and Sam decided to head back and the rest of us continued swimming east to Fossil Point. From there we divided into two groups—one headed to the end of the pier and the other swam to the middle of the pier. The wind had picked up a bit and there was some strong chop in the water during the latter part of our swim. Total swim distance was 1.1 to 1.2 miles. Unlike last Sunday, everyone warmed up quickly back on the beach and enjoyed the exceptional moment of heat, bright sun, and gorgeous cerulean-blue sky.

 --John Hampsey