Friday, January 27, 2023

Friday, January 27th, 2023

Today is my birthday and I started the day off with a great swim. The water is cleaner that is has been in weeks so the west side of the pier is back in play. I planned on swimming some sort of a big triangle. I got in at 7:35 with clear skies and an air temp of 36°. The wind is still offshore but the bottom keeps changing. Today it was like walking across a plowed field, every step was either up or down, but level. I didn't have to start swimming until I was most of the way to the fence on the pier. The water was colder. I measured 10.5°C/50.9°F.

The wind pushed me around a bit but the chop wasn't noticeable so the swimming was smooth.

Avila gave me a great birthday present. Coming in at the end of Tuesday's swim I lost my Avila Dolphins swim cap in the surf.  The ocean decided to give it back. A kind person found it and left it at the showers where I found it today, full of sand but good as new after a rinsing.

I'm going to swim tomorrow at 8 and Sunday at 11.


Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Tuesday, January 24th, 2023

Today was a beautiful morning for a swim at Avila Beach. I was joined by Jay Sandy who grew up in San Luis Obispo and surfing at Avila but is now living in Encinitas and swimming in those warm Southern California waters.    

We got in at 8. It was clear and sunny with a steady offshore breeze and 33°F. The water was 11.5°C/52.7°F. The tide was coming in and there were sets with 6'+ faces so I was not thinking about the water temperature while we were getting in. I was distracted enough that I didn't start my watch so there is no plot of today's swim, but, we did the same swim I have done the last two times; parallel to the beach on the east side of the pier until we were off of Fossil Point, then back to the end of the Avila Pier and in. This route is working while I get my swimming chops back and was good for Jay because he didn't have as much of a wetsuit as he would have preferred at these temps and would keep us closer to shore in case he got cold. There was not much chop on the water so the swimming was easy but those big swells were rolling through even out past the end of the Avila Pier. 
We swan for about an hour. 

This was a great way to start the day. 

I'll be back Thursday between 7 and 8. I'll help collect water samples from Avila Beach and SLO Creek Thursday morning and if the bug numbers are down from last week I start including the west side of the pier in my routes.

I heard from Tom Lorish. He swam this morning at 10:15 and spoke to Jay Sandy.


Sunday, January 22, 2023

Sunday, January 22nd, 2023

I swam at 11 today and it made a surprisingly large difference. The air was 57° and going up instead of Saturday's 33° and the water was 12.5°C/54.5°F. It was still windy but the swimming was much more comfortable. 
There were a lot of surfers in the water. I don't surf, the waves looked like the usual mushy Avila stuff to me so I don't know what had changed to bring them here. Fund to watch though.     

I swam down to the Fossil Point like yesterday but took a different route. I was feeling the effects of having been out of the water for 3 weeks and today's distance was enough.    

Stephanie Robeson flagged me down just as I was getting ready to head to the water. She was in town, visiting SLO and Morro Bay for her birthday. She still lives in Santa Barbara, is working, has her service dog, and is training for the Coeur d'Alene tri and the Morro Bay half.  She looks like she's doing well.

John Hampsey - I spoke with Dennis Combrink and he asked how you were doing.

I'll swim Tuesday AM and continue looking for where my swimming mojo wandered off to.


Saturday, January 21, 2023

Saturday, January 21st, 2023

I'm back in the water!

The bacteria levels in the water from the storms are down to reasonable levels so I got myself back in the water this morning. I last swam at Avila on 12/30/23 so it was a long break and I wasn't sure what to expect.

There was lots of things to make this morning special and not a cushy reentry, so I should be good for whatever from here. The air temperature was 33°F with a gusty offshore wind that had chopped up the water. I measured a water temperature of 11.5°C/52.7°F. On the right side of the pier towards San Luis Creek Avila Beach is buried in driftwood. There is none on the east side but the sand has been replaced with medium sized river washed cobbles that extend into the water. These are not good for someone walking barefoot. It was a very high tide so there wasn't much beach.  I hobbled over the cobbles and into the water, judged how the water felt on my feet (cold but not super cold) and began thinking about how it I would work out starting swimming. This was solved by a steep drop off where the water was knee deep to chest deep plus, so, suddenly in up to my neck and facing a breaking wave I figured I was going to start swimming now.    
I was going to stay on the east (left) side of the pier where the bacteria count was probably lower than on the west side. I swam out to the end of the pier, turned left and headed for Fossil Point planning to do a out and back course. This would also keep me fairly close to the beach in case I started to like the idea of getting out before I completed the route.

I had a good swim. Being away made it all new. I got somewhat reacquainted with how to swim, sorted out a hitch in my breathing and my reach on the left and played some mind games while swimming through the chop.

David may join me tomorrow for a swim at 11. 

No rain is forecast for at least a week so I hope to get my groove back.


Saturday, January 14, 2023

Saturday, January 14th, 2022

Avila Beach, 11:30 Saturday morning 

 I've no swimming to report. The water in Avila looks like fun except for the brown color and the presence of bacteria. Thursdays Blue Water Task Force samples for Avila Beach and lower areas of San Luis Creek were in the 500 to 900 range, a huge improvement from last week's numbers but still many time above the state limit of 104.

If the weather clears as predicted on Monday, Thursday - Saturday would be a window to get back in the water.

Thank you to for saving me a trip to the beach to see what it looks like today.


Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Wednesday, January 4th, 2023


Noon on Wednesday a few hours before the next big storm is due. In Avila Beach the water and the surf on both sides of the pier is brown with silt. A good indication that the water is also carrying a high load of bacteria. If it wasn't for that today would have been a great day for an adventure swim. 


Friday, December 30, 2022

Friday, December 30th, 2022

 The Last Swim of the Year -

Tom and Sue

Foggy and wet at Avila this morning. The swell was down but there was still a slow roll out there. Sue and I stepped into the crazy zone and actually swam around Avila Rock. It was a good swim, if a little crazy. 

Thanks Tom

Personally, I think this is the most hazardous time of the year at Avila and it is about tiny stuff. Not sharks, which are a summer thing and rare, or boats, or the storm surf that we get this time of the year but the high load of bacteria that San Luis Creek carries into the ocean when it rains. Thursday mornings samples by the Surfrider Blue Water Task Force have bacteria levels on the west side of the pier (opposite where Tom and Sue were today) at 6x the state limit for safe contact with the water, the creek mouth is at 9x and in the estuary it is 12X. Some areas further up the creek posted numbers 25X the state's recommendation. This is not unusual when it rains, with the numbers highest early in the winter when there is more poo in the creek's watershed for the rain to push into the creek.
The water from the creek disperses out into the ocean so if you want to swim in this water the game is to guess how diluted the bacteria load will be where you are swimming. Dial in how long it has been since the last rain, how robust your immune system is, how long you will be in the water and how much water you will get in your mouth, eyes and nose and you can arrive at a guess of your risk. 
Staying on the east side of the pier is a start but the surf, tide and the relative strength of the flow in the creek vs the tide and the waves will determine where the outflow goes. It is a guess and you hope you make a good one.

The Surfrider Blue Water Task Force collects beach and creek water samples from Pismo to Cambria on Thursday mornings and the test results are posted about noon on Friday at 
If you like having this kind of data available before you get in the ocean consider giving your local chapter a few bucks.

In the early 90's there was no water quality information available and we were ignorant about the risk that creek runoff could expose us to so we were swam all of the time, including during storms in water that was so full of silt from the creek that it looked like a latte.  A number of our swimmers had chronic sinus infections and who knows how many of the other aches and 'colds' the rest of us had were due to exposure to the bacteria in the water. We have the ability to be smarter now.


Thursday, December 29, 2022

Thursday, December 29th, 2022

 Sneaking In Before the Rain -

It is difficult to smile in 52° water

After a week out of the water and 1100 miles of traveling I was really feeling the need for a swim. The swimming conditions this weekend didn't look good so I put out positive thoughts about the water quality and swam this morning. I got in about 7:30 and swam for something less than an hour. It was great. I stayed on the left/east side of the Avila Pier to keep some distance between myself and the creek. 
The air and water temperatures were 52°.  It was pretty calm and gray. There was a combination of soft chop (see next sentence) and swell that made swimming pretty physical. 
Soft Chop, I just made this up to describe todays surface condition when there is no wind but there is a wind chop like surface (small wavelets close together) on the water, but since there is no wind they are not steep and peaky but 'soft'.  Does anyone know? 
I swam out to the end of the Avila Pier, turned left and swam parallel to the beach until I was directly off of Fossil Point, I roughly followed the coastline along the point until I was in line with the buoy line, angled left and swam parallel to the beach  back to the pier and in.

Gear Reports -

Garmin Customer Support - My Garmin 735XT died last week. I went on line to Customer Support page, entered my watches' seral number and selected the option to receive a return phone call in 1 minute. They also told me what number the return call would be coming from.  The call was right on time. The woman who assisted me was knowledgeable and helpful. I purchased this model in 2020 and there is a one year warranty. 😟 After some diagnosis she determined that my watch had leaked and had moisture inside. 😢 She then offered me an Exchange, where Garmin sends me a new 735XT and I return my dead watch to them. 😀
They put a deposit on my card which is canceled when they receive my dead watch. I could have avoid the deposit by first sending them my watch and they would send the exchange after they received it. That would take two weeks so the deposit is much faster. The only cost is the shipping.  I chose next day for $18. The call was yesterday morning and my new watch will be delivered today. I am very pleased with Garmin's customer support.

Surf Ears Ear 3.0 Plugs -  I got these for Christmas and wore them for the first time today. They are very soft silicone and customizable with three sizes for the part that goes in your ear and two sizes of the part that fits in your outer ear and keeps them in place. They are very comfortable, let sound in but keep water out, come with a leash and case and are a quality product. Made for surfing but should work just as well for swimming. I didn't pay for these but now that I have tried them I would,  I think that my hearing and the comfort is worth $60.


Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Wednesday, December 28th, 2022

 Tom's Swim Report for Wednesday -

Tom's eye of the storm report: after a rainy Tuesday. Wednesday was clear and breezy at Avila, so I decided to go for a short swim. There was a big swell, and straight up and down jackhammer waves that were well overhead. The water felt about 51, and the breeze made it colder, nevertheless, I got a solid 40 minute swim in. And then carefully navigated my way out to make sure I was not crushed by one of the jackhammer's!  I'll be back whenever the weather permits. 


I was hoping to start off today with a 'sort myself out' swim but yesterday's 10 hour drive back from Eureka in the rain had me feeling pretty beat when I went to bed. This morning I woke up early but just wasn't feeling the love of getting in the water.
Maybe tomorrow. I'd feel much better having gotten in the water but the runoff will be dirty so my best plan is to drive down tomorrow morning and see if the water looks too dirty for me to feel good about getting in.


Sunday, December 25, 2022

Sunday, December 25th, 2022

Tom's Swim Report - 

King tide + one day.  The December 25 swim report: it is the day after the official king tide, so the gravitational pull was a little bit less… Nevertheless, it was a very high tide! I got in at 9:45, the air temperature was 62, and the water was about 51.  There is a decent swell in, so you can see the waves almost touching the top of the pier as they are rolling in.  Are the water was beautiful and clear.  I got out right at the peak of the high tide, at 10:45. Beautiful morning swim.  

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Saturday, December 24th, 2022

Tom's Christmas Eve Swim Report

Another shot looking out towards Avila rock from the Bluffs…   I got to Avila about 930. The air temperature was 62. It looked to be right at high tide… And if this wasn't the king tide, it was definitely a queen, or a prince! Avila rock was just about completely underwater. And the rock buoy was straining to stay afloat. The water temp was up a bit to about 52, there was a decent sized swell and the swimming was excellent. 

Friday, December 23, 2022

Thursday, December 22nd, 2022

 Thursday's Swim Report from Tom -

Beautiful day..... Looking out towards Avila Rock. Pretty big high tide today, so only the tip was out of the water.  The water was vey clear and about 51 degrees.  Air temp was 57 when I got here.  An excellent swim and great way to start the day.

Thanks Tom

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Tuesday, December 20th, 2022

An Almost Winter Solstice Swim - 

It was going to be cold, but it wasn't like I expected. My expectations were based on the air temperature being 36° at 7:30 and the water being in the low 50's. It was clear and sunny with a slight wind and the same small surf. The water has been very clean.
I planned to do two big triangles. Getting started had its shock and awe aspects until I got evened out about when I reached the reef buoy. I was not comfortable but it was tolerable. 

The water felt cold, definitly about 51°, but enjoyable until I rounded the Avila Pier and headed towards the left side of the creek. About 200M after the turn I entered some water that made me feel like I had just gotten in all over again. I measured the water temp near the creek mouth at 50°. The chill encouraged me to swim harder so I pushed on and when I swam out of the colder water near the end of the Avila Pier swimming harder was feeling good so I kept pushing all of the way to the beach.       

I had a great swim and felt good and tired when I got out.  

Tom's Swim - My coordinates: 46°F, 10.5°C. The water was calm and beautiful, as was the swim. I decided for a solstice around Avila Rock 🪨 swim.

I'll be out of town Thursday through Tuesday and plan to swim Wednesday morning to get the kinks out after a couple of long days in the car. 


Sunday, December 18, 2022

Sunday, December 18th, 2022

At 11AM the weather at Avila Beach was clear and sunny, 54° with a light wind. The waves were 2' except for an occasional sneaker at 3 foot plus. There was a small swell from the west that was noticeable if you were far enough offshore to be out of the shadow of the Port San Luis breakwater.
I was the only one swimming today and I decided to take a lap around the Avila Rock.  

The water measured a degree or more warmer than yesterday and with the warmer air temp it swam two+ degrees warmer. I measured the water at 12°C/53.6°F.  The swimming was still cold but much more comfortable than yesterday.   
At the Avila Rock. Out here I could feel the lift of the swell and there was a bit of a push towards the east but neither was enough to require much attention. 
The rock got lost in the background but it is darker than the cliffs behind it. 

This is a lovely time of the year at Avila; sunny, comfortable and no crowds. There were maybe 12 other people on the entire beach on the left (east) side of the pier. And in a 'Normal' year the water temperature would be 54° to 56° until spring. 

I'll swim Tuesday morning at 7:30 and then we will be traveling, so I'll be back in the water at about 9 on Wednesday the 28th. Yes, not my usual day or time but I'll be driving all day the day before and swimming will get the kinks out.


Saturday, December 17, 2022

Saturday, September 17th, 2022

I got in at 7:30, the air temperature was 36° with high clouds and a nice sunrise. There was an offshore wind out of the NE and the water was rippled but not choppy. The surf was 2 feet +/- with waves that were very close together.

Starting out it seemed colder than it has been but I wasn't sure if it was me or the conditions. Once I turned right at the end of the Avila Pier and headed towards the CPP I had what I'm calling corduroyed water. There were little swells that were close together and easy to swim through that gave a rhythmic vertical motion to the swimming.  And the water temp dropped. Everywhere further out then the end of the Avila Pier was a degree or more colder than closer to shore. I measured 11°C at the CPP but it didn't feel like 51.8°F. More like 50 - 51. 

I saw Tom afterwards. He got in at 9:20, the air temp was 45° by then and he thought the water was 51°.

I'll swim tomorrow at 11 and early on Tuesday, and then take another week off to travel for the holidays.