although Chad has exceptional form, you can't beat the masters

I showed up to the beach with some new found purpose today. I’m very excited to have sneaked in one more open water race for the year, and in New York City no less! But swimming 5k in NYC in November means making sure my cold water tolerance is in full effect. Luckily (?) the ocean didn’t disappoint today. Niel is still waiting on a new thermometer, but the group consensus was somewhere around 55-56 today which is plenty cold. We did have the advantage of sunshine however, although the rest of the central coast was fogged in this morning.

Niel playing human thermometer

We had 4 swimmers today and while they were getting wetsuited up I walked down to the water to start my cool down process. I figured I might as well get a jump on them so nobody had to wait for me. It’s funny how I can tolerate a lot of frostiness, but I’m such a baby about that first dunking :) I probably had at least 5 minutes to myself before the rest of the guys joined me. I had managed to freeze myself out up to my armpits at that point and it was just a matter of getting my head wet when they decided to go.

Niel and Chad getting in

Pete right behind them...

me still kinda working on it :)

Today’s route was a repeat of Wednesday (the point and back), but without the accidental detour past the reef buoy. We swam out to the buoy line, regrouped and decided our next stop would be in line with a big retaining wall up on the hill which would put us about half way between the last buoy and the cliff face. On the way out I aimed to hang onto Niel and Chad. After a couple hundred meters their paths converged into a single line and I fell in behind them. I wasn’t focusing on going fast so much as swimming correctly. My left arm is still swinging too far in underneath my body and I really have to stay conscious of that and correct it.

regrouping part way to the point

At our meeting point the three of us hung out and chatted a bit as Pete caught up. At this point there was still a pretty well defined line of fog on the outside of the bay but you could tell it was burning off and was going to leave us with a beautiful day.

fog starting to burn off enough to see Shell Beach

Once we were all together again we swam the last little bit towards the point. It was really messy out there. Lots of chunks of kelp and free floating sea grasses. We had some decent swells roll through on us but nothing was breaking that far out. Once we had everybody again we set our sights on the buoy line and followed that all the way back to the pier.

Pete swimming at us

We took our time out there at the buoy line before we turned it back towards the beach. It was nice enough I could have been easily talked into a little extra distance. Since it didn’t look like anyone else was in search of it we swam it in. I waited around in the shallower water for a while to try and surf something in. I caught a piece of a good one but I sort of rode it from the inside somehow. Like I had to dive into it a bit to catch it but that left me a little under the surface but still moving with it. A little weird but fun.

the guys hanging out before we swam back to shore

After our swim I went home and had lunch and decided to go back to the beach for some kind of paddling. I was thinking SUP or kayaking. Judging by the white caps that were starting to kick up that I saw from the freeway on my way there SUPing was out. I’m not good at it enough to deal with a strong wind. I rented a kayak and tooled around in Port San Luis.

beautiful day to be on the water

It was relatively calm on the way out and I found a gang of sea otters just chilling out in the the kelp-ier area of the port. They were all a little suspicious of me even though I kept a pretty healthy distance between us. A few decided to dive underwater and pop up in various spots around me to asses whether I was friend or foe. It was funny to see them pop up prairie dog style and kind of give me the stink eye. I figured it was best to be on my way and let them get back to their afternoon.

I think we were equally interested in what the other was up to at this point

I aimed for the Poly pier but never made it there. The wind was proving a challenge and was directing my boat a little bit. Things were texturing up and a fair amount of chop was building. Since the wind was blowing away from where I needed to drop the kayak back off at I figured now would be a good time to start paddling home since it might take me a while to get there. Whenever I paddled fast I got wet because the bow of the kayak would bounce on the chop and splash it all back at me. Luckily I don’t mind being a little wet :)

I like kayaking because it's sneaky exercise disguised as fun

On the way in I saw a pod of what I think were sea lions playing and jumping out amongst a group of birds. After watching them for a while I turned back towards the port again (the wind had blown me all the way back around), and resumed paddling. I found my sea otter friends again and this time they were far less concerned with me. Apparently they had a meeting and decided that I was ok. I spent a while just watching and taking a couple pictures. This time they were all packed together and set adrift in the current. It’s not so often we see sea otters around here so it was very cool to see that many (maybe 10ish total?) just hanging out and playing.

a flotilla of otters

2 Responses to “Sunshine, Salt Water and Sea Otters”

  1. IronMike says:

    Cool. I miss all the wildlife in that area. My first time in Monterey (mid-80s) we heard the sea lions every night, their bark making it up the hill. In 97, fewer sea lions and rarely heard their bark. In 07, I only saw them twice.

  2. Rob D says:

    I remember hearing the barking up at the barracks in 2001… it had to be pretty still and quiet though… usually you only heard them at 4:30am if you had to get up early for PT