Monday, August 19, 2013

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Two Posts Today : Our Regular Sunday Swim at Avila Beach and a Report on the Trip to Monterey to Swim With the Kelp Krawlers

First, John Hampsey sent me this post about Sunday at Avila.  John and Stuart enjoyed a swim that makes me wish that I could have somehow done both of today's swims! 

Thought I was going to swim alone today at Avila since everyone was with the Kelp Crawlers in Monterey. But a new person showed up--Stuart, late 20s, very good swimmer. He had heard about the Sunday Avila group. As Stuart and I entered the water Jerry showed up, but he swam a bit later on his own.

The water, @ 56 degrees, appeared calm but actually had rolling swells and a strong current. Stuart and I swam the buoy line to the left, running through several kelp gloms, made me think of the rest of the group in Monterey! We then decided to continue on to Fossil Rock, stopping just short of the rock. Stuart looked down and about 15 feet below us in the water was a large black round object, an errant flying saucer or old mooring? ... We turned to swim back and Stuart asked if I saw the dolphins. I saw two in the distance by the shore. But he said—no, the ones right next to you. And Yowzer! There they were, four dolphins about 6 feet from me. It was sublime. They were probably checking us out, but we swam on, not wanting to give them too much to mediate upon. There was also a motor boat cruising nearby; I cursed them with hand signals for being inside the buoy line.

Strong current against us going back. We reached the pier and kept on going, underneath and a couple more buoys toward the creek. Then back to the pier and in... Entire swim was about a mile; in the water about 45 minutes with some lollygagging and chatting. As we walked up the beach we were welcomed by Dave VM sitting in his chair, waiting for us like a sea god on sabbatical. He had kept his eye on us and seen everything.

--John Hampsey, Sunday, August 18th 

Road Trip to Monterey to Swim With the Kelp Krawlers

Making the trip were Niel, Duke, Byron, Brad, Rob and Rick, who were swimming, Allison who would be paddling a borrowed kayak and tending herd on us, and Kris, Sharley and Rhonda.  Victor Plata dropped in to join us.  He was on the US Olympic tri team in 1994 in Athens and is now living with his wife and young son in Monterey.  I met Victor while he was attending Cal Poly when we kept finding ourselves sharing a lane at the SLO Swim Center.  I had not seen him in a couple of years so it was great to catch up with him and have some fun together.  I'll always be envious of the wonderfully smooth stroke he has.  I got to see it again briefly each time he blew past me.
The Kelp Krawlers swim at Lover's Point Park every Sunday, plus mid-week during the summer, and put together some groups of 20 to 30 swimmers that do several different routes. The conditions looked great; it was overcast but clearing, calm, no surf, a water temperature in the upper 50's and high tide.  The height of the tide has a lot of impact on the swimming here because at high tide the kelp covers the smallest area and has more open channels to swim through.  The one mile swim starts on the beach at Lover's Point and is an out and back route through a broad kelp bed and then across an open stretch of water to a NOAA data collection buoy. The 1.5 mile route begins on the other side of the point, hooks through the kelp and out to a yacht club marker.  From there the the swim continues roughly parallel to the shore, past Lover's Point to the NOAA buoy that is the turn around point for the one mile swim, and then back along the 1 mile course to the beach.  The consensus was that having driven all of the way up here we should get the most for our efforts and do the 1.5 mile swim.  We had a great time. The water in the cove at the start was cold but became more comfortable once we got off shore.  I felt like I was swimming in the open ocean.  The water was very clear by Avila Beach standards and seemed very deep because I could see white and purple jelly fish below me down in the water column.  After seeing the first few I got apprehensive because I remembered Rob's story of having swam here and having a solid carpet of jelly fish only 6 feet below him, seemingly just out of reach.  Today is saw on only every few minutes.  The other great experience was feeling the big long period swells passing under me, gently lifting me up and down without interfering with my swimming.  I've previously only experience this when I was well offshore.  Navigation was tough, first because neither of the buoys have much of a silhouette above the water so they are hard to find and second, that nice big swell meant that most of the times I looked up to navigate I saw only the back of a swell.  I had one more individual issue, my goggles were leaking and I was having to stop and clear them so I was quickly off of the back of the group and didn't have anyone to follow.  I did see Rob on and off and Allison's kayak was close by part of the time but between the swell and not having any landmarks along the shore I never could tell where I was along the route.  The last leg to the beach was into the swell and the chop was bigger, again more of an open ocean experience then the wind chop we have at Avila Beach, but the beach was easy to see and Allison parked her herself and her red kayak at the entrance to the channel through the kelp which was a great help.
We covered 1.52 miles and spent 53 minutes (including time for photos) in the water.
We had lunch together and then went our separate ways for the rest of the day.

Thanks to Kris for taking the pictures!  In order to see the details you will need to double click on some to enlarge them.  

The beach at Lover's Point
Getting in

Heading for the channel through the kelp

Arriving at the yacht club buoy

Arriving at the NOAA buoy

Allison making the entrance to the channel through the kelp. 
There are some swimmers in the kelp.
Sharley and  Rhonda. Where are they?
Who's got the car keys?

Sun's out for the finish

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