Sunday, December 31, 2017

Sunday, December 31, 2017

For the last swim of 2017 we had a wintery day at Avila Beach. It was cool with thin high overcase which took all of the warmth out of the sun and made the water look metallic and opaque. This, combined with a light breeze out of the SE, an empty beach and a water temperature of 53 to 55 degrees made a very end of the year experience. Niel, Maria, Tom, Leslie, Duke and Heidi swam today. We did a simple triangle route that came out to be just short of a mile. 

Leslie, Tom, Maria, Duke and Heidi

Heidi, Tom, Duke, Leslie and Maria at the end of the first leg

Selfie by Niel

Duke, Leslie, Niel, Heidi and Maria waving goodbye to 2017.
Leslie, Duke, Niel, Maria and Heidi welcoming in 2018

Selfie by Tom

I've been using Rain-X to keep the water droplets from clinging to the camera's lense and messing up the photos but it is only working for part of the swim, as demonstrated by the difference between the first three and last three photos. Does anyone have a suggestion with something that will work better?

We'll be swimming next Sunday, 1/7/2018


Monday, December 25, 2017

Sunday, December 24th, 2017

Sunday, December 24, 2017

The sky was slated with thin grey clouds and the air temp was 60 degrees with a slight breeze. The beach was deserted and the water was glassy smooth with small rippling waves. There were two swimmers today—John Hampsey, and Amy’s brother Bo. The water by the shore was 53 degrees, but farther out the temp dropped to 52, as measured by our reptilian thermometer. The first part of our swim took us to the end of the pier, and from there northward to the actual mouth of the creek. A single seal saluted us there. Other than that, the sea seemed lifeless. From the creek we headed south, under the pier to the end of the imaginary buoy line just before fossil point. The water was astonishingly clear, even at 20 feet deep we could see the sandy ocean floor. During our last leg back to the pier, we were hailed by the harbor patrol boat; the captain wanted to know where the rest of our group was. After informing him that Bo and I were the entire group, he wished us a good holiday and sped away in his rubber vessel. Back on the beach it took us a while to warm up since the sun would not break thru the clouds. But Amy greeted us with hot chocolate and all would be well. For Bo and me, it was an invigorating and sublime swim. Distance—1 mile.

 --John Hampsey
John and Bo

John's hi-tec plot of their swim

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Sunday, December 17, 2017

We had 12 swimmers today; Heidi, Hillary, Niel, Sydney, Sam, Karen, Sarah, Duke, Emily, Sarah, (were there two Sarahs or did I miss a name?) Jonny and John.

The water was 55 degrees, a little wind ruffled but very clear with great swimming conditions. 
In spite of the plot we did a simple triangle today.

We looked like an Easter Egg Hunt when we formed up at the start.

Sydney, Sam and Duke.

At the end of the first leg.

At the end of the Avila Pier.

There will be a swim on the 24th. Several people will be out of town so the group may be thin. Maria is hoping to swim as are Sydney and Sam.


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Thomas fire near Ventura is 120 miles south of San Luis Obispo. The wind has been out of the NE which was blowing the smoke from the fire offshore. The wind moved into the SE Saturday night and Sunday morning San Luis Obispo County woke to a red and smoke filled sky. 
Sydney, Sam and Niel swam today. The water temperature was 53 degrees but felt colder. The waves looked pretty clean but there were patches of red tide on the east side of the pier. The buoys have been removed for the winter so we have to estimate our location along the ' buoy line'.   The plan was to get in on the west side of the pier, do a counterclockwise triangle and get in about a mile.  
Sydney and Sam getting in

The girls have not been swimming at Avila in a while nor when it was this cold and Sam was having trouble keeping her face in the water. 
At the east end of our route.
Sydney, Niel and Sam, all red faced from the cold water.
When we returned to the pier Sam cam in while Niel and Sydney went back under the pier and a ways down the beach in order to make a mile swim.
Sam coming in

Sydney and Niel

Sue, Sydney and Sam were responsible for all of the dry foot photos. Thanks, they are great!


Sunday, December 3, 2017

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Plans were in place for us to do a supported 1.5 mile round trip swim out to the rock off of Fossil Point today but the weather had other plans. At sunrise Sunday morning the wind was blowing hard out ot the north. If Avila was sheltered enough some kind of a swim would be possible but the idea of going very far offshore looked chancy. I loaded up my swim stuff and kayak and headed to the beach. The wind was blowing offshore hard enough to make flags stand straight out and snap against their pole. The water temperature was 55 degrees. A swim out to the rock would feel like a quick half mile on the way out and a mile plus long slog into the wind and chop on the way back. 
On the beach were Jonny, John, Hillary, Jim, Niel, Maria and Karen. Supporting us on kayaks were Hillary's son Emerson with his friends Bo and Brittany. We decided to get the boats and ourselves in the water and to swim out to the end of the Avila Pier where we would do an evaluation of the conditions and make swim plans accordingly. 

Hillary and Bo at the end of the Avila Pier. 

Emerson, Brittany and Karen at the end of the Avila Pier.

On the way out to the end of the Avila Pier I was thinking that I'd go to the rock but when I stopped and let the wind and chop catch up with me I changed my mind. Jim was the strongest swimmer in the water today and he decided to got to the rock with Emerson to keep him company.  The rest of us would swim over to the Cal Poly Pier and back to the shore at the Avila Pier with Bo and Brittany.  Our swim would be 1.2 miles as opposed to Jim's 1.5 but we would be swimming across the chop both ways instead of with and against for Jim's swim. There was no sign of the red tide that had been hanging around. The water was clear and a beautiful green color.

Hillary and Jonny at the Cal Poly Pier 

Maria and Karen at the Cal Poly PIer. 
The end of the pier is 625M from here and makes a nice leg
(with lane lines!) as part of a longer swim. 

Bo at the Poly Pier.

Jim and Emerson said that the leg back against the chop and wind required some extra effort. Well try to schedule another swim out to the rock this winter if the water temperature holds up. 


Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Today started out overcast and cool with rain showers over Pismo Beach. A nicely timed hole in the clouds gave us sun while we were swimming and then it clouded over again after we got out. The water was flat with small surf but again had very unseasonal red tide conditions. Ugh.  The water temperature was 56.5 degrees.
Swimming today were Niel, Duke, Heidi, Sara, Maria, Karen, Jim, Jonny, John, Sue and Hillary.
At the end of the Avila Pier Duke, Jonny, John and Sara headed for the last buoy at the mouth of the creek while Niel, Heidi, Maria, Karen, Jim, Sue and Hillary swam over to the Cal Poly Pier and back. The long route was 1.5 miles. 

Duke, Heidi, Hillary, Sara and Sue at the 
first stop at the end of the buoy line. 

Hillary, Karen, Maria at the finish with full gallery of pelicans 
watching out for a chance at a fish we might stir up.


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!