Brilliant sunny early winter morning at Avila... uncrowded beach, easy parking, and the vibe was solid. We were six—Tom, Heidi, Maria, Amy, Jonny, and myself. Tom went in at 11 sharp; the other intrepid five dawdled in a few minutes later.
The plan was to swim to the left down the imaginary buoy line, though Tom and others claim they can still see the buoys even after they have been removed.
Four to five foot waves were coming in sets and we waited for a moment of calmness to swim out into seawater that was definitely colder than the previous Sunday. Heidi’s aqua-watch read 52 degrees, 11 Celsius for those from the far north. The water was clean and clear and we swam to where we imagined the fourth buoy used to be, which was different for me and Heidi and Maria. Once we were confident the water was not too cold for a longer swim, we headed out to the end of Avila Pier. Approaching the pier Jonny, who had run 8 miles prior to our swim, broke out into full-on giddiness, and attempted a manic butterfly stroke. Perhaps a Canadian thing, sans a leg kick. Amy showed him how to perform the butterfly correctly, California style.
Then we headed to the white mooring buoy about a hundred yards north of the pier, circled it, and back to the beach. Swim length—1.1 miles. We all got a bit cold and claw-handed during the last leg of the swim. But the sun and our new-found, somewhat suspicious, technique of pouring hot water inside the back neck of our wetsuits, as well as hot chocolates furnished by Maria, had us all warmed up, copasetic, and gathered around the bench above the stairs. And the craic was good.
--John Hampsey Sunday Dec 30, 2018 Avila Beach