Saturday, September 30, 2023

Saturday, September 30th, 2023

Swimming In The Rain - A Sure Sign of Fall

Light rain was predicted for today and that is what we had this morning at Avila Beach. It was just misting before we got in but rained on the second half of our swim.
It was Jodi and I this morning. It was 59° with a lid of gray clouds, small waves, a slight swell, no wind and 56° - 57° water. 

Jodi was very surprised to open up the back of her car and not see her swim bag. She had her wetsuit and parka and I had goggles and two caps to loan so she could swim. She had to go without her earplugs and neck gaiter and drove home with her parka over her wetsuit.   

Jodi picked our five legged route which started with the 1100M from the beach to the end of the Poly Pier. Then in along the pier to the second crossbars, over to the end of the Avila Pier, to the last buoy on the east side and back to the Avila Pier for 3,408M.

Jodi and Niel at the end of the Avila Pier. 
Not much in the way of conditions to comment on today. 

We saw Paula and a friend getting in as we were ready to leave. 

I'll swim tomorrow at 11. 
The weather should be clearing at about that time so maybe we'll get some sun.


Thursday, September 28, 2023

Thursday, September 28th, 2023

🏊🌞🌊⛄     Got It?

Avila was clear and sunny and 56°. There was no wind. There was a mixed swell from the SW that swam as if it was choppy. The water temp was 55° - 56°.
I did this back and forth thing between the two piers for 3600M. Duke got in a bit after me and did his swim along the Avila Pier. It was bumpy everywhere. It was work pushing into it on the way to the end of the CPP and a nice shove on the way back to the beach.     

It was beautiful at the end of the Poly Pier but at 55° I'm 
inclined to keep swimming rather than hang out at the turns.   

This was pretty random stuff to swim in with several swells with different periods.
It was more of a mental challenge to figure out how to work the conditions than than 
to do the swimming.

Jodi and Tom will probably join me on Saturday at 7. I'll swim in the sunshine on Sunday at 11 with whoever shows up. 


Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Tuesday, September 26th, 2023

Surf's Up - 

For the first time in many months there was a large swell at Avila Beach. Sets were showing about 3/4 of the way out along the pier and making 6' waves with nice barrels.
Wayne joined me today. He is from Seattle, swims in Puget Sound and has jumped in with us before. The water temp wouldn't be an issue for him but there is wind chop but no waves in the sound so getting out through the surf would be a first for him.      
Wayne and I got in on the west side of the pier. Wayne got out OK and added a successful surf entry to his experience. We swam a triangle and he went in and I doubled back to our starting point.  Getting back in was easier and I will credit that to either luck or good timing.  The water was 56° close to shore and warmed up to 58° about half way out along the pier.  It was sunny, 56° and calm. Along the buoy line it was elevator swimming with the big rollers passing under us.      

Wayne and Niel along the east buoy line.

When I got out I saw Duke's car and spotted him in the water 3/4 of the way out along the pier.  He was out when I was coming back from the showers so we talked swimming for a bit.

Duke and I will be back on Thursday at 7.


Sunday, September 24, 2023

Sunday, September 24th 2023

At 11 AM today it was sunny and 60° in Avila Beach with a steady breeze from the SW. The water was very clean with a SW chop that had a good push to it.  The water temperature is holding at 58°. 
Duke was going to swim to the end of the pier and back. David and I planned to swim to the end of the Avila Pier, over to the second crossbars on the CP Pier and then see what looked good once we were there.   

The chop put some interest and involvement into this swim. From the end of the Avila Pier to the second crossbars was across the chop and I was getting pushed to the right the whole way. The leg to the end of the CPP was into the chop which was less complicated but seemed to take forever. The leg back to the Avila Pier had the chop giving us a push almost in line with out route. 
When we were back at the end of the Avila Pier I went in and David swam to the 4th buoy on the east side and back along the buoys before coming in.     

David and Niel at the end of the Cal Poly Pier

Duke, enjoying a nice post swim afternoon at Avila Beach.

While Duke and I were hanging on the beach two whales did a slow swim by. They were not much further out than the end of the Avila Pier. I have heard that they are around in Shell Beach but had not seen any at Avila so far this year.  🐋 

This coming week I'll be swimming at 7 on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and at 11 on Sunday.


Saturday, September 23, 2023

Saturday, September 23rd, 2023

The Poly Pier 5K

Avila was beautiful just before the sun came up over the headlands. It was 51° with clear skies with a few clouds and no wind. The water was flat with a ripple on it as if the wind was starting up out there. There were a few pelicans diving on some fish but no organized bait ball activity. 

I had not exactly planned it but today's route was all my fault. After our somewhat unplanned 4600M swim last Saturday I told Jodi about a 5K route (why not? its only 400M longer) that I had done that included the length of the Poly Pier. I forgot about it until this morning when Jodi asked me if I was up for the swim I had suggested the previous Saturday.  I hope that I didn't obviously hesitate before saying Sure!   5K was longer than Tom L. was looking for but he came along for the fun.   
The route is pretty simple: The east buoy line, the last buoy to the end of the Poly Pier, in along the pier until you can touch the shore and double back. We swam on the west side of the pier because there is just one small patch of kelp on that side compared to the east side.  The water was 57°- 58° and clean with an occasional lift from a swell. The wind chop never became a thing so it was smooth swimming all of the way.  

Jodi, Tom and Niel touching the shore at the base of the CPP. 

We all had a great time. It was starting to cloud up when we were at the showers. 

When I was leaving I spoke to Jonny and met his two boys. I have not seen him in about a year. 

I'll swim a shorter route tomorrow at 11.



Thursday, September 21, 2023

Thursday, September 21st. 2023

The best news of the swim was 'no red tide'.  Tom had found clean water yesterday. I thought that there was an equal chance of it being clean or dirty today and I got lucky. 

At 7 the air temperature was 56°, the water was 58°, it was very gray with what looked like rain clouds (!?). There was no wind and the water was smooth except for nice long period swell.

I had not been out to the Avila Rock in a while. From the beach it looked like the massive amount of kelp that had surrounded the rock this summer was much reduced so I went to see if I could swim around the rock. 
The kelp dies off in the fall. There was a wide area on the west side of the rock that was full of floating pieces of kelp that ranged from small bits to 10'+ stalks. It looked like most of the kelp was gone. I was able to circle the rock with just 20' of kelp crawling.  
The swell created a nice lift and drop near the rock. 

Duke texted that he was taking a gap day today.

I'll swim Saturday at 7 and Sunday at 11.


Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Tuesday, September 19th, 2023

 Chased By The Brownness - 

The Conditions: Everything was beautiful except for the red tide. Tom L. had texted yesterday that he had found the water to be pretty dirty with the east side of the Avila Pier (towards Pismo) worse than the west. In the low light at 7AM there was no way to tell how it was this morning. Otherwise it was flat, windless, 56° with 58° water and a beautiful sunrise.  
Niel and Edwin got in at 7 and headed to the west side of the Avila Pier. Jim caught up with us near the end of the pier. On the west side the water was salty and opaque 😝so we tried the east side. The water there was colder and cleaner and pretty clear along the buoy line. Edwin and Jim got out after a mile. I did a second triangle.       

When I got out at a bit after 9 I met Duke on Front St. getting suited up. 
This was his second or third swim on his road back to being a water creature. He said that it was something like 10 months since he had been in the water.
Duke, when you need to climb a mountain it is good to have some friends along.  I'll be looking for you at the beach.

We may see plankton blooms until the water temperature drops to the mid 50's. 
The ocean is always a give and take.
Sunday Tom I. said that there had been large pods of whales off of Shell Beach in the last few days.  I spoke to Duke a second time after he got out and there was a large bait ball off of the end of the Avila Pier with fish boiling and birds circling and diving on them.  If the bait fish are here maybe we'll see some whales in Avila.  
I'll roll the dice on Thursday at 7 and see if I can find the clean water.  


Sunday, September 17, 2023

Sunday, September 17th, 2023

The Water IS Getting Brown -

We are starting to see some plankton bloom in the water. My guess is that even though the water is cooling off, to 58° this week as opposed to 63° last weekend, last weeks higher water temps were enough to kick off a plankton bloom.  Yesterday and today's redness was spotty and not heavy. If we get our usual back to school heat wave we could see some thick crud. We are also seeing a lot of ell grass and kelp bits in the water, another sign of water temperatures that are high enough cause these plants to start dying off.    
At 10:30 it was 67° and partly cloudy in Avila. The clouds were thicker in the east towards Pismo with sunny skies and a fog bank to the west. It was calm and the water looked great.
I saw Tom Lorish as he was walking back to his car. He was happy with his swim except for the patches of cloudy water.  We met Edwin after he got out. He is from Santa Maria, had crossed paths with Tom in the water and may join the group at some point. 
Our group today was David, Tom Israel, Niel, and Jamie.  No one felt super motivated so we set out to do a couple of triangles. 
The wind came up out of the SW as we were getting into the water and by the time we were swimming towards the end of the Avila Pier a good chop had formed.
Jamie went it after the first triangle. The chop created an opportunity to work across it, then into it and then to ride it depending on which leg we were on.          

At the end of the Avila Pier
Jamie, David, Tom and Niel

One of the best parts of the fall swimming is that the summer crowds are gone.
Not only is the beach relatively empty but there were just two pop ups on the east side of the pier, leaving an unobstructed view of the ocean.

I ran into Chad Ianneo and his two boys at the showers. 

I'll swim Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 7 and next Sunday at 11.


Saturday, September 16, 2023

Saturday, September 16th, 2023

Chasing Jodi - 

Jim, Niel and Jodi swam this morning at 7.

I do not think that Jodi has ever seen a distance that she didn't like so I should know what to expect when I asked her to pick the route. This morning she suggested we swim directly to the end of the Poly Pier, to the end of the Avila Pier, to the third crossbars on the CPP,  to the middle of the Avila Pier, to the second crossbars on the Poly Pier and back to the first buoy on the west side where we began.  4600+M and 1:42+  

Jim, Jodi and Niel at the end of the Avila Pier.
It was very flat and calm. 
Jim is working on reacquiring his cold water acclamation so he went in from here. 

Jodi and a heron at the second crossbars on the Poly Pier.
We had seen another heron at our stop at the midpoint of the Avila Per.

Very nice swimming conditions this morning. The air temp was 63°, the water is holding at 58°, and grey and cool with no sun. The lack of sun makes it hard to see but I think the water is still generally clear. 

I'll be back tomorrow for something shorter and hopefully with more sun. 


Thursday, September 14, 2023

Thursday, September 14th, 2023


Thursday morning's conditions were a repeat of Tuesday, very gray but no fog, 61°, no wind, a glassy ocean with nice, clean 58° water. I was going to do two triangles but after the first one I was bored with that idea so I swam over to the Poly Pier. I swam from the second to the third crossbars, to the end of the Avila Pier and in.    

This great blue heron is making breakfast at the Avila Pier a regular thing.

I'll be back Saturday at 7 and Sunday at 11. 


Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Tuesday, September 12th, 2023


Avila Beach was all grey this morning with dense cloud cover down to the horizon, but no fog, so the visibility for swimming was fine. The air temp was 59°. There was a light wind but the ocean was still flat but lumpy with a south swell. The water was also 59°.  I just went out easy and cruised the Poly Pier/Reef Buoy loop.   

At the reef buoy.

I'm feeling like I'm close to being back in condition after so much time traveling the past two months, which is great, but I'm surprised that I'm not yet more comfortable with the water temperature. I think that I'm still messed up between feeling the cold but not being cold. Being able to swim harder will help.

I'm swim at 7 on Thursday and Saturday. 


Sunday, September 10, 2023

Sunday, September 10th, 2023

Sunday was another great day for swimming at Avila Beach. At 10:30 it was 70° with one lonely wispy cloud hanging high in the SW. There was a light breeze to keep it comfortable and the swimming a bit more interesting with a ripple on the surface and a long swell out of the SE. The water was clear with a temperature of 62°.      

Ton I.  David and Niel at the 4th buoy on the west side. 

We swam one clockwise and one counterclockwise triangle.

A few random beach thoughts:

For other than a few weeks in the spring the water has been consistently clear this summer without the usual red tide creating a red brown muck for us to swim in. I've no idea why we are so lucky so far this summer.

The sand was pockmarked when I arrived so it rained in Avila Beach last night. We had nothing in SLO.

It is about a nice as it get at Avila Beach right now; the weather is warm but not too hot, the water as warm as it will get, the summer crowds are gone and there was not a single pop up on the east side of the pier so everyone had an unobstructed view of the ocean.

About the water temperature, into mid-October of last year the water temperature was 58° to 60° but by the week after Halloween the temp had cratered to 51° and didn't pull above 51° until late June.  That was seven months of water temps between 47° and 51°. I cannot explain how we kept swimming. We'll know about this year when we get there.

Next week I'll swim Tue., Thurs., and Sat. at 7 and Sunday at 11.      


Saturday, September 9, 2023

Saturday, September 9th, 2023

Chased By Otters -
Jodi and I swam this morning at 7. The conditions were super nice. It was clear with scattered high clouds, windless and 68° with small surf with the occasional two wave set of 4 footers. The water temperature was 60- 61°. 
Jodi's pick was to do a loop from the 4th buoy on the left side to the Poly Pier, in along the pier to the second crossbars and back to the base of the Avila Pier. On the direct path from the second crossbars to the Avila Pier there is a lot of kelp and otters so we usually swim towards the half way point on the Avila Pier before turning in but today there was an otter directly in our path, so Jodi suggested we swim back out along the pier to the third crossbars and then to the end of the Avila Pier. It was a good plan. Except that a third of the way to the Avila Pier there was another (or the same) otter directly in our path. Fortunately it was swimming towards shore, out of our path, so we continued on to the end of the pier and in to the beach.         
It was really nice out there today.
Jodi and Niel at the end of the Poly Pier. 

I'll swim tomorrow at 11. 


Thursday, September 7, 2023

Thursday, September 7th, 2023


At 6:30 it was 51° and cloudless at Avila. There was a slight breeze and some movement on the water. The surf was 2 foot with occasional sets of 4+ feet.  There was no power in the larger swells so it was easy to pop through them while getting out. 
The water temp was down a bit to 14°C/57°F.  Seems like a short summer...... 

I did two triangles which was about right. This being my second swim after two weeks off I was feeling a bit cold and tired when I was finishing up. In another week to 10 days I should be back to where I was before my break.  
At some point past 50 I found that if I took a break from my regular schedule my conditioning fell off of a cliff and I was going to have to climb back up that mountain when I got back into training.  It's a great motivator.  

A broken off piling was a nice place for this heron to check out the breakfast menu.

I'll swim Saturday morning at 7 and Sunday at 11.


Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Tuesday, September 5th, 2023

I'm back from traveling and seriously need to be in the water. There was no swimming where we were and I need to train and get comfortable with the water temperature.

At 7 this morning the fog was thick enough that I could barley see the first buoy when my feet were getting wet.  I needed to be about a third of the way to the next buoy before I could see it but I could see the beach and keep parallel to it and not wander about too much. The air was 55° and the water was 58°- 59°. I felt OK getting in but I was beginning to feel cold for the last quarter. There was no wind but there was a swell that would occasionally produce a 4+ foot breaker. 

From the 4th buoy I could see the end of the pier so I committed to doing two triangles. There were five boats anchored between the Avila and Cal Poly piers so I had to jog around them. You can see by my plot that the leg on the east side from the end of the pier to the forth buoy had the worst visibility. From the end of the pier I could see the lights along Front Street but nothing of the cliffs beyond or Fossil Point. When I got close enough to see a buoy it was the one on the reef so I turned in and picked up the buoy line back to the pier.

Two weeks out of the water is a long time for me. I was colder and more tired than usual but in a few weeks I expect to be back in shape.

I'll swim Thursday and Saturday at 7 and Sunday at 11.