Sunday, May 24, 2020

Sunday, May 24, 2020

The Fog Route-
I arrived at Avila Beach a little after 9. The air temp was about 60 with fog and low clouds. There was no wind and the water looked very clear. The water temperature was about the same as yesterday but with the overcast and lack of sun it would feel one or two degrees colder. Since the pier is closed I have to wade out with the thermometer to get a good water temperature. I went out after our swim and got a 54 in the surf line.   
The Tom and I planned to get in at 9:30.  Hillary and David were already in the water. Tom and I crossed paths with them along the east side of the buoy line but I don't know what their route was. Tom and I did a good visibility route, sticking to the buoy line and close to the pier, both for navigation and safety. We could always see the next buoy and 3/4's of the way through the swim the sun started coming out and visibility improved. One of the scariest things for me would be to be out in the water with poor visibility like this morning and hearing a boat somewhere close.    

Avila at 9:30

Tom and I swam 2635M

Tom and Niel at the 4th buoy on the east side.
It was cold enough that after this photo op we just kept swimming.

Brittany and Augustine go in at 11.

This coming week Tom and I will be getting in at 9:30 on Tuesday and Thursday and will adjust our get in time for Saturday depending on the probable presence of lack of crowds.

Yesterday and today it was possible to be safe on the beach and to sit out while maintaining good distancing, but the Front Street boardwalk was jammed with people who were behaving like it was the summer of 2019, NOBODY wearing a mask or paying attention to maintaining safe distances. The route from my car to and from the beach was a constant recalculation of which path was safe, which often took me out into the street. 
If the crowds continue like today's I will continue to come earlier that was customary, maybe even getting in as early as 7, in order to stay safe on dry land.

niel  


Saturday, May 23, 2020

Saturday, May 23, 2020


Memorial Day Weekend Break-in



Niel, Tom and Hillary swam Saturday morning, getting in the water at 9:30. The holiday weekend crowd was already showing up. I proposed swimming the buoy line to the left to the 4th buoy, to the end of the Avlia Pier, to the third set of crossbars on the Cal Poly Pier and to double back to our starting point. I was looking to do 3200M. The water was smooth, clear and cold, I'd estimate 53 degrees and the overcast wasn't helping any. Once we got to the end of the Avila Pier, Tom Of The Sleeveless Wetsuit, went off the front because of the cold. He got out when he returned to the first buoy. That was going to be less than 3200 for me so I convinced Hillary to join me and go under the pier to the last buoy at the creek and back for 3,780M. 
Tom getting in

Hillary getting in.
She tows a yellow Avila Dolphins party boat with her GoPro 
and an orange bladder with water to keep hydrated. 

This guy was having a snack at the first buoy. 
I popped my head up when I stopped at the buoy and he was 20' away.
This was taken with no zoom and he was not the least bit concerned. 
I wonder it it was the same otter that I saw near the Avila Rock a week ago.

Tom and Hillary at the 4th buoy

Hillary over at the Cal Poly Pier. 

Hillary and Niel at the last buoy at the mouth of San Luis Creek.
We were just starting to get some sun at 10:45.

I'll be getting in at 9:30 instead of the usual 11 tomorrow in order to beat the holiday crowds. 

niel



Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Commiting to the Big Pool-

I've accepted that my community pool isn't coming back any time soon and when it does it will probably be short course, every other lane, waiting to get in and no locker rooms. Poohie! So I've committed to swimming at Avila four days a week.  It is much more time consuming but I already feel so much better. Tom and I are thinking alike and can make a morning time work so there are two to four of us in the water. My challenge is to see if I can get back to my pool distance of 3200 to 4000M in the ocean.

It was very nice in Avila Beach this morning; patchy clouds, no wind, a big southerly swell making some 4 to 5' waves. The water has been as clear as it gets on the Central Coast. I met up with Tom and Leslie. Tom wanted to do the route that I had done Sunday for 3920M. That plan got a little shaky as we waded in and found the water temperature to be a couple of clicks colder than it was on Sunday, so we planned to drop off the full plan if it was too cold.   
Tom and I did the full Monte, somehow getting 3765M instead of the 3920M for the same route on Sunday. It was quite choppy Sunday so maybe my GPS included the vertical distance? ;-) Leslie got cold and dropped off halfway around the second lap. 

Tom and Leslie at the end of the Avila Pier for the first time.

niel

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Sunday, May 17, 2020

The weather was overcast and cooling with a hint of wind. The water looked nice and clean with small waves and fairly flat. Tom was getting out as I arrived. He estimated the water temperature as 54 ish. The conditions on Front Street and the beach were pre-pandemic; crowded with lots of groups of people and no one wearing any protection. While there was zero conception of maintaining safe distances by the crowd on Front Street, it was easy to make something work on the beach. 
This was the beach at 10:30:


Niel, Teresa and David showed up to swim at 11. I had planned a long route for today that I could do on my own if necessary. David and Teresa liked the idea of 2 to 2.5 miles so that is what we did.  
Out to the end of the Avila Pier, two clockwise triangles and back in along the pier. 
This route could have been a bit boring except for the wind and current that showed up to make the swim entertaining.

Teresa and David at the end of the Avila Pier for the first time. 

Teresa and David the the last buoy on the east side of the pier,
3/4 of the way into the first lap. From here to the end of the Avila Pier we has a strong SW current and chop to make things interesting.
Teresa was starting to get cold and went off of the front. David hung with me.

David at the end of the Avila Pier for the third time. 


Niel at the same spot.

I had 3020M on my watch when I stood up (after going over the falls on a wave), good in my book for 2.5 miles with consideration for the extra work required for the last 1.25 miles. The chop was never really troublesome, but make this swim an uphill slog for most of the way.  

The beach at 1, looking like a regular summer's day.

Tom and I are talking about swimming extra early this coming Saturday and Sunday to beat the holiday crowds.

niel

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Avila Rock Swim - Thursday, May 14, 2020

Teresa, Niel and Tom slipped into the water this morning at 9:30 and swam a lap around Avila Rock off of Fossil Point.  We had been talking about doing this swim for a while and were waiting for the water temperature to come up to where a 1.75 to 2 mile swim would be comfortable. I was comfortable the entire time so I'd say the water temperature today was 55 to 57 degrees. A wind was starting to pick up but we were early enough to be out of the water before it became a problem. Other than that little chop the water was flat with 2 to 3 foot surf and a 2 to 3 foot swell. The water was nice and clean and the swimming was wonderful.     

We began by swimming along the east side of the buoy line. We met up at the 4th buoy to make sure everyone was happy with the conditions for the route we had planned before heading offshore. 

Teresa and Tom at the 4th buoy. They are both much faster than I am so this would be the last time I spoke to them until after we were done. 

There was enough swell that I needed to stop a few times to plot 
my way through the kelp beds on the north side of the rock. 
This guy was busy having breakfast and didn't pay me any mind.  

A selfie at the rock. The rock is far enough offshore to have more boat traffic then the more common spots on our routes and I expected us to be split up, so I towed my rescue can for both the extra visibility and just in case someone wanted to take a break. 

This turned out to be a perfect day for this swim.

And another bonus, Tom is tasked with distributing Leslie's surplus baked goods, so today's treat was carrot cake muffins.  Yummy!

niel



Sunday, May 10, 2020

Sunday, May 10, 2020

It was all about the perceived conditions today. It was overcast, cool and almost spitting in Avila Beach this morning. The water feels colder when there is no sun and Tom and I were thinking and feeling that the water was about 50 degrees and swam accordingly, about 1750M. Dave and Teresa were of a different mindset and swam swan more like 2400M. After I got out I waded back in with my thermometer and got a reading of 53 degrees in the surfline. That left me wondering if Tom and I would have gone farther if we had known it was 53 before we got in?
Brittany swam while Chad and family held down a spot of beach. Paula was there with three friends. I saw them head west along the buy line. 


Tom and I did a triangle clockwise.

Tom's assessment of the water temperature.
Tom wears a farmer john and I wear a full suit and we both thought the water temperature was about the same. Tom was ready to get out and I could have stayed in longer.  

The vote was 2/0 for 50 degrees.I probably was close to that in the cold spots. 

Tom had some great treats from Leslie to hand out after the swim.
They felt well earned today. 

niel

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Thursday, May 7, 2020

I have not been posting the week day swims that people have been doing, people have been swimming on different days and at at their own times so it has been too complicated to put together in a blog, but, today was special.

Tom, Leslie and I swam this morning. I got away from a virtual meeting later than planned  and got in the water 15 minutes behind Leslie and Tom.

Leslie did half a triangle and Tom estimated that he did 2800M. I did a triangle for 1725M. I was going to do about 2400 but today the water temperature was the lowest that it has been this spring. Tom and I both estimated at water temp at 50 - 51 degrees. The pier is closed so I cannot get out over the water with my thermometer so I'm going by how intense the feeling of cold was and how long it lasted after I got in. Today was the coldest day so far this year. Earlier in the week Heidi and Leslie said that the water just as cold. Blame it on the consistant offshore winds. This happens every spring.  



This is the only photo because I didn't want to stop. 
Beautiful swimming conditions except for the water temperature.
I am very grateful that I picked up a new Patagonia R3 wetsuit a month ago (on sale!) 
This is my fourth one and the new wetsuit warmth and lack of leaks is very welcome this time of the year.
And Patagonia recycles the old ones.

niel

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Sunday, May 3, 2020

We had a wonderful swim today and gret news about updated rules for the beach.

New rules are in place that allow chairs, towles, tents, sunbathing and all of the usual beach activities so long as proper personal distancing requirements are observed. So, we can once again meet up before the swim at our spot, leave out stuff on the beach and hang out afterward, abet with some occasional shouting required.  This is way cool!

Conditions today were beautiful; it was clear and sunny with an air temperature in the low 70's. The water was clean with a temperature in the low 50's. There was a mild offshore breeze at 10:30 which built to a strong whitecap producing gale by noon.

Swimming today were Niel, Tom, Teresa and Brittanie. Chad, Brittanie and the family are now back on the central coast living near Orcutt.

I wanted to do about 1.5 miles and at 2,540M it worked out pretty close. The legs from the last buoy to the end of the pier and over to the Cal Poly Pier were across the wind and chop and were pretty bumpy. I could feel the chop build up during the leg along the Cal Poly Pier between the third and second crossbars. The chop was mostly behind us on the way back to the Avila Pier so the last leg was easier.





Teresa and Tom at the 4th buoy. 
Brittanie swam her own route along the buoy line. 

 
Teresa and Tom at the Cal Poly Pier.

I'm looking forward to being back in my chair on the beach next Sunday!

niel

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Tom, Niel and Phil's Farewell Swim That Wasn't - 30 April 20


The news hit the inter web Wednesday night that on the Thursday Governor Newsom would announce the closure of all beaches in California on Friday.  Sad new for swimmers but not entirely unexpected given what I had seen locally and on the news. 

Tom proposed marking the occasion of our last swim by doing a 2 mile route.


It was beautiful at Avila Thursday morning. We planned to get in at 9:30. There was a gusty offshore wind so the chop was worse the farther you were off of the beach. I'd guess the water temperature was 54 - 55; a bit chilly getting in but tolerable after the first 1/4 mile.

Tom's proposed route was a pretty complete tour of Avila Beach swimming spots and a lot more interesting than two laps of the buoy line. Out and over to the third crossmembers on the Cal Poly Pier, to the end of the Avila Pier, to the 4th (last) buoy at the creek mouth, down the length of the buoy line to the 4th buoy on east of the pier, back to the end of the Avila Pier a second time and in to the beach. I had 3432M or 2.13 miles when I stood up.  

Tom getting a toe test

You saw what out there?

Phil

Phil and Tom at the first stop, the first buoy on the right of the Avila Pier.  

Second stop. Phil and Tom at the third set of crossbars on the Cal Poly Pier.

Third stop. Tom and Niel at the end of the Avila Pier.
Tom is on the phone and pointing at something.

From here we split up. Tom went off the front, I followed. He and I swam the same route. Phil did something similar, not sure just what.

BUT, as of Thursday afternoon the Governor has decided to close just the beaches in Orange County. I'm hoping we continue to use the beach and ocean wisely and safely and continue to be able to enjoy this wonderful resource.

I'll be getting in the water on Sunday at 11. Hope to see you in the water.

niel   

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Sunday, April 26, 2020

If you saw my post yesterday on the Central Coast Open Water Google Group you'll not know that my weather predicting skills will not make me a threat to John Lindsey.
Instead of 80+ degrees and very cold water Avila Beach had thin, high overcast, an air temperature of 70 degrees and a water temperature of 54 ish. There was no wind and the water was flat.
Tom got in early at 10:15 and swam the fortune cookie route which is about 2800M.
David saw him getting out as we were getting in, so he swam for 45 minutes. 

Niel, Teresa and David were joined by Matt (I think that's his name) at the get in and we connected with Stephanie near the end of the Avila Pier. We saw Jonny on the beach. He was going to wait for a friend before getting in. 

Our route was out to the first buoy on the left side of the pier, east to the last buoy on the left, Matt who was swimming bareback, went back at this point, to the end of the Avila Pier, over to the second crossbars on the Cal Poly Pier and back to our starting point at the Avila Pier. 

Matt, you left your cap and goggles at the showers. I'll bring them to the beach with me or you can post a comment to this post to let me know what you want me to do.

Teresa, Matt and David getting in.

Matt, Teresa and David at the end of the buoy line. 

Teresa, Stephanie and David at the end of the Avila Pier.

Teresa and David at the Cal Poly Pier

Stephanie at the same location.
The plot quick 3/4's of the way to the Cal Poly Pier 
but came up with a time that was about right. 

niel

And this from John Hampsey:

Amy and I swam Avila around 3:45 Sunday afternoon... we left our bags by Blake's lifeguard stand and told him our swim route-- leg one out to end of the pier, and then prob over to fossil point and back in on buoy line. water was significantly warmer than last Thurs! we guessed 56 or 57, and clear, and beautiful... which earned us a deep conscious and unconscious Buddha float out by the reef buoy... Blake the lifeguard was very frustrated trying to keep the people from congregating in large groups on the beach without any social distancing, and it was a losing battle that we were disappointed to withness--so many clueless people ignoring the beach rule and ultimately jeopardizing the situation we have now-- still being able to swim. Indeed, because of so many uncool people flouting the rules, the beach and water access at Avila could be shut down entirely. we shall see....
but our swim was glorious and filled with adventure... halfway to end of pier the we watched harbor patrol inflatable motor boat race like a rocket from Avila Beach over to Pismo Beach, in he aftermath we spotted the snouts of two seals bobbing in the water directly in our path from end of pier to fossil point. As you all know, seals are never a good sign, so we ditched our plan and swam under the pier and toward the creek mouth, but halfway there we spotted a bait ball in the making--hundreds of birds ready to spin an aviary whirling darvish, so we back-tracked under the pier and swam the buoy line nearly to the end, and then back to the beach .... swim length about .9 mile.
experience-- exhilerationg with hints of vision, and best B Float in weeks ....
we plan to swim avila again this thursday around 3, if beach is still open.
peace and best wishes to all
--John Hampsey

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Sunday, April 19, 2020 Covid-19 Swimming

Swimming in COVID-19 Conditions - 

This week the Harbor Commission imposed additional conditions on the use of Avila, Olde Port and Fishermen's Beaches.  No loitering is allowed. Walking and swimming (!) thankfully are allowed. This means no towels, beach chairs, coolers or any kind of setup is allowed on the beach. So, we can still swim but not hang out together before or after swimming.

Earlier in the week Tom proposed that we swim a new route today. Tom wanted to get in at 10:30 instead of our traditional 11 o'clock. I was able to get there earlier and we managed to met in the wash. The route we would swim Tom called the PingPong Route; in the water on the left side of the Avila Pier and out to where the first buoy is in the summer, under the pier and to the third set of crossbars on the Cal Poly Pier, over to the end of the Avila Pier, back to the second set of crossbars on the Cal Poly Pier and over to the first buoy on the right side of the Avila Pier, under the pier and in. Tom had estimated this as a 1.7 mile route.  When I stood up in the shallows I had 3,140M on the clock.  A nice swim Tom!
I'd estimate the water temperature at 55 degrees, it was sunny when we got in with a SE breeze and a good chop and current pushing in from that direction. The water was nice and clean. I could see the reflection of the sunlight off of the bottom in 20 feet of water. 

Me with Tom in the background at the start at the Avila Pier

Me and part of Tom at the third set of cross bars along the Cal Poly Pier.
We had a current and a face slapping chop on our left shoulder on the way here. 

At the end of the Avila Pier. 
Tom and I had connected up with David who is in the background.
The current and chop was on the right on this leg but coming at more of an angle towards my head. I thought the first leg was harder. Tom voted for this one.   

Me at the second set of cross bars along the Cal Poly Pier. Tom was getting cold and didn't wait for me catch up. David is out of the picture to the right.
The chop and current was coming from behind between my left hip and feet.
This was the easiest leg. 

I'm back at the right side of the Avila Pier.
Chop and current the opposite of the first leg but laid down as 
I swam into the shadow of the Avila Pier.

John, Jonny and Brian were also out there around the time we were. 

We'll be swimming Tuesday and Thursday mornings, trying to get in between 9 and 10 before the wind comes up and back to 11 o'clock on next Sunday.

Thank you Jef Mallett for creating Frazz and drawing attention to the silliness of how we have fun.
The big pool has no lane lines or turns.

niel