We shifted the swim to Lopez Lake today. Friday evening, after the Surfrider's meeting in Avila Beach, Rob noticed a strong sewage like smell along the beach from the creek to the pier, so we decided that an alternative venue was a good idea. Niel, Rob, Allison, Byron and Sharley gathered at Cottonwood Cove before 11 and tried to come up with a plan for a swim. It was complicated. First, it was nice and sunny and calm but the water temperature at the dock near the launch ramp was 50 degrees. Yikes! I'd never been in the lake at this time of the year and to have it that cold was a surprise. Second, as we were getting ready Byron remarked that there was a boat in the area where we were planning on swimming that was setting out buoys for the start of a sail boat race. What followed was a conversation about how to avoid the boats. Swimmers would have the right of way but that was not something that we would want to rely on. Byron was confident that the sail boats would want to stay away from the shore in order to keep in the breeze, but I wondered how many boats would be piloted by novice sailors. The solution was to stay close to the shore and I wound up towing a inflatable swimmer's buoy that
Rob had. Getting in was tough, especially for the wetsuitless Rob. Byron was not happy about the temperature either. He and I decided to take a short loop out and back to the point to the west while Rob was acclimating. We grouped up and headed to the north intending to swim to the far side of Mallard Cove, the next cove up the shore. By this time there was a couple of dozen small sailboats of various types maneuvering around the buoys. We crossed Mallard Cove and based on the cold and all of the boat traffic we decided to head back. A light wind had come up and put a small chop on the water that we had to work into as we swam south along the shore. We got out at our entry point having covered approximately 4000 yards. It wasn't until now that Rob mentioned that the swimmer's buoy that he had given me to increase our visibility in the water was the same color as the buoys for the boat race, and perhaps instead of increasing our safety it had served to make us (me!) a moving target. I'm glad that we are all looking out for each other. We were wise to get out when we did. Afterwards I sat in my car eating lunch and watched the boats. They were all over the lake, deep into Mallard Cove and back and forth across the route that we had taken.
If you missed out on the last minute planning for this swim you should join the Central Coast Open Water Google Group. All of the last minute planning for our swims takes place here. You can go to Google Groups, find the Central Coast Open Water site and ask to join. Rob is the gatekeeper. Or you can contact Rob directly and ask to be added to the group.