Chilling (in multiple meanings of the word) out at the end of the pier

Today was round 2 out at Avila. We had essentially the same conditions as yesterday, there just weren’t as many birds or seals patrolling the water today. We ended up with 8 swimmers total and one of the guy’s kids on a paddle board following us around. A lot of the faces today were new to me but not to the group. They had been regulars back in the day but hadn’t been around in quite some time. I think there was an impending Alcatraz swim coming that had gotten them out and into the ocean.

marching into the ocean

Getting in the water today was just as hard as it was yesterday but at least I had more company in the non-wetsuit department! I think we were half the group today! That’s pretty major for our Avila Beach swims. The front end of our plan was to swim out to the right hand side of the buoy line and then swim way down towards the point and eventually swim to the top of the pier. From there it was negotiable.

On the way out to the point I kept running into free floating chunks of kelp. I swam through one section that was all kelp bulbs and it felt like I was swimming through slimy Christmas ornaments… a very odd sensation for sure. Since there was a big spread in speeds today I spent a lot of time just waiting and treading water. Luckily I was doing pretty well with the water temps after I managed to get adjusted. Once we swam to the pier I probably spent at least 5+ minutes just chilling (literally) off the tip. I could feel the cold in my fingers and toes, but as long as I kept them moving I was ok. During this period is where the group split up. 4 swimmers continued on down to the last buoy on the other side of the pier and then back in. 1 swimmer went straight in along the pier. And 3 of us swam way out to the Poly pier and then back to the buoy line and in.

negotiating the rest of today's route

Duke, Niel and myself set a course for one of the big cross braces on the Poly pier and got to work getting there, it’s a pretty decently long stretch. I tried to just hang on to Duke today on the way there but he was pretty quick today. Instead I just navigated off of his bright orange cap. Once we got to the pier I think he was the one to mention that he hadn’t seen any seals yet today, and right on cue we heard a big wet “pfffffffft” behind us. The seals were out, they just didn’t feel like making themselves known until we were at the furthest possible point from the beach! Jerks :)

Duke and Niel out at the Poly Pier

I was feeling pretty good temperature wise at this point but Duke was getting pretty chilly and wanted to split right quick. Normally we would stop and regroup once we hit the buoy line and the pier but he just kept going to keep his insides warm. Me and Niel were fine with this since all 3 of us are Avila regulars and knew where we were going. Plus we all hold pretty similar paces in the ocean and the regroupings would have really been just a formality anyways.

Once back on the beach we were set up for our regular post holiday swim pot luck action. We hung out and ate and talked about swimmer stuff… water temps, sea life encounters, events past and future, and whatever else anyone had on their minds. During this time is also when a couple thousand birds decided to swirl back into a big ball off the left hand side of the pier. Luckily they showed up after our swim this time! The fact that they keep showing up makes me a little uncomfortable though… how many little fish are there out there to eat right now?

After hanging out on the beach for a while I made my way down to Port San Luis to meet up with a friend for a quick Stand Up Paddleboarding excursion. We rented some boards from SLO Coast Kayaks (“hey aren’t you that guy from yesterday?”) and after some brief instruction they pushed us off into the water to go do our thing. Although I’m not actually good at it I had the advantage of doing this once before and tried to keep things real slow while my friend got her bearings on the board. We ended up cruising through the parked boats and out towards the Poly Pier. The sun never broke all the way out but it was still pretty nice on the water. There was a bit more wind than I would have liked though which made paddling a little harder in some spots. Like yesterday we had plenty of seals and pelicans diving and popping up all over the place. At one point I had like 30 seals aimed right for me jumping and diving over the tops of each other and then like 20m from my board the all just disappeared underwater. I really wonder where those guys go when they dive and never come back up.

each black dot is a seal head and they were all pointed straight at me!

Although I had a few “balance challenged” moments today I never took a tumble… probably because I already knew how cold the water was! But I did take a knee a couple times to reboot my balance-o-meter because I almost took a swim a few times :) As we made our way back to the rental shop I tried to paddle a little more aggressively just to see if I could build up any real speed. I think I did pretty well… I got some really solid pulls and cruised along quite nicely. Next time I go out on one of these I’ll have to really attack it and see what happens.

me in the heighth of paddling fashion... rash guard, pink kangol cap, adventure beard, and $5 girl's sunglasses

After our SUP excursion we went back down to the touristy part of Avila and got some smoothies and stood in the ocean drinking them. Our feet and calves were pretty tight from holding our balance on the boards and it felt really good to let the cold water rush over them! Tomorrow I’ll be back to work and hopefully back into the pool with my Santa Maria friends… in the meantime I need to sleep off all the fun I had this weekend in the ocean!

cruising towards the Poly Pier

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