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. 


Thursday, December 15, 2022

Thursday, December 15th, 2022

 After a weeklong rain induced break from swimming I decided to sleep in a bit and get in at 8 instead of my usual 7, hoping that it would be warmer. It didn't work.  At 8 the air temp was 38° with thin high clouds, a light breeze and minor chop out of the SE. I took the long way over to the Cal Poly Pier and doubled back along the same route.   

Sitting our for a week really showed in my navigating. I had such a backlog of stuff in my head to work through that I was all over the ocean, especially on the way back. I felt great afterwards. 

I measured a water temperature of 53° but the air temperature and weak sun had me guessing 51° -52°.

It was wonderful swimming. The water was clean and we are not expecting any rain in the next week so I'm looking forward to getting back in my groove before Christmas.

Tom got in at 9:30 when the air temperature was 48°. His toes thought the water was 10.5C/51°F.  He usually estimates the water temperature to be a degree or so lower than my thermometer reads but since he swims in a farmer john with a long sleeved rash guard it probably does feel that much colder wherever he is. He swam about 3000M.  

We'll both be back Saturday morning, Tom at 9:30 and me at 7.


Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Tuesday, December 13th, 2022

 I stayed dry today but Tom swam. His report:

As they say a picture is worth 1000 words.... air temp was 48° when I got in at 9:30, water was 51° based on my toes and teeth. Beautiful day, beautiful swimming.

We will both swim on Thursday.


Monday, December 12, 2022

Saturday and Sunday, December 10th and 11th, 2022

 Tom and I didn't brave the silty water in Avila this weekend. 

I did have breakfast with Rob Dumouchel in Avila on Sunday morning. He was in town visiting family and friends and enjoying the sunshine.  Before becoming the city manager for Homer Alaska Rob kept the Avila Dolphins cred shining by swimming bareback no matter what the water temperature was. 

The water that was coming our of San Luis Creek was the color of a latte and only a few surfers were in the water.



Thursday, December 8, 2022

Thursday, December 8th, 2022

 It is a good thing that I don't work at a business making change in cash. My rough estimate was that today's route would be a bit longer than my usual 3,200M +/-, and it it was longer. At 4,547M it was 1,347M longer. So I overpaid myself my 8/10ths of a mile. If I had known I was being so generous I could have done just 250M more and made it an even 3 miles.
This is a good way to train up but not so good if I'm working in your store. 😏

It was bright and sunny and I had a great swim just cruising the distance.    

The Back Story:
The County had give an all clear on the post rain water quality so the creek side of the pier was back in play.  I had not been under the pier in some time and I liked the idea of a big triangle and knew that once around would be a longish mile, so twice around would be two miles plus some. It seemed like a good plan.
I got to Avila about 7 and got in the water at 7:15. It was frosty. The air was 35°, it was clear and there was an offshore wind. All of the dog walkers were bundled up and here I was getting in the water. The surf was small and the breeze had put a lumpiness on the water that wasn't yet a chop.  I measured a water temperature of 12°C/53.6°F  but no way. I'm with Tom and think the air temp had it swimming one or two degrees colder.  
Who's feet are these? I can't feel mine.

At almost an hour forty with no gels to top me up I was feeling the chill when I got out. This time of the year the area around the showers is in the shade until noon and that wet concrete was cold. Next time I'm going to bring sandals or put my stuff out in the sunshine.  

Tom's Swim Report - 

My report is: air temp was 48 when I got in at 9:40. My toes tell me the Water temp was 51 degrees.  The water was beautiful and clear. Lovely blue skies with wispy clouds creating artwork above.  Excellent winter day at Avila.


Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Tuesday, December 6th, 2022

I'm back in the water after a two week break and it was sure nice to be out there this morning.
Avila has winter conditions now with a 7:30AM air temperature of 42° with thin high clouds, a light breeze and a ocean with a glassy but lumpy surface and a push from the SE.  I stayed n the east side of the pier just in case the creek was still dirty for the recent rain.  

I expected to have lost some of my cold water mojo but was still surprised when I measured 12.5°C/54.4°F. It sure didn't feel like the mid 50's to me, mor like 51 or 52.  We'll see what tom's toes told him when I get his swim text. 

Tom's Toes Say:  Beautiful swimming today! My toes and teeth said 51–52, which seems to agree with your thermometer. Beautiful air and water clarity.  I love this time of year! 

Tom misunderstood me. I think he is right and my thermometer needs to go into the shop for a calibration.  

Regardless of what the water temp was Avila is a beautiful place to swim. 

Tom and I will be back Thursday AM. Rain is possible Friday night and Saturday so we'll figure the weekend out depending on how much rain we get.



Saturday, December 3, 2022

Saturday, December 3rd, 2022

Tom and I are sitting out this weekend.  As of Saturday morning this storm has dumped 3 inches at our house in San Luis Obispo and the County has advised a 72 hour closure of all beaches. I haven't always strictly adhered to those guidelines, but I was in Avila Friday morning and the waves on the west side of the pier were brown with silt from the creek. That is a red flag for me for possible high bacterial loads in the water, so Tom and I will wait until Tuesday to get in.


Thursday, December 1, 2022

Thursday, December 1st, 2022

Today's Tom's Toes Report (without the water temp guess) - 

Tom swim report for Thursday, December 1: cloudy and breezy at Avila this morning. Air temperature was 55 at 9:45 when I got in the water. There was a significant wind chop that was counter to the direction of the swell. It made for a good rough water worth (?), water swim!  Overhead the clouds were thick in places, and at the same time, there were several streaks and spots of blue sky showing. The air quality was amazing - I could see Point Sal like it was next door.  I'll be back on Saturday for another round.

Niel - 
I'm healed up and ready to swim, but I am going to see how much rain we get between now and Saturday morning before deciding about the water quality.  If San Luis gets the inch plus that is predicted I'd be concerned about the bacteria load.