Today was beautiful on the coast and I spent as much of it as I could outside by the ocean. I left the house around 8:30 and headed for Avila Beach to see what was going on down there. The sun was shining, it was a little chilly still, and the water was totally flat. I brought a board and fins with me just in case, but there was no surf to be had.
Since I couldn’t ride any waves I ate breakfast at the Avila Grocery and then went exploring. I walked down the pier and checked out what the seals and the fisherman were up to. We had maybe 10 guys fishing but I didn’t see anybody catching anything. I noticed the gate to the landing below the pier was open so I went down there to look around. It’s been a lot of years since I’ve been down there and it looks like they’ve redone the whole thing since the last time I checked it out. It’s kind of neat to be above the water but below the pier. It was a really low tide and I could see sea anemones and starfish clinging to the pilings along with tons of smaller muscle/barnacle type things. I got some interesting pictures down there.
After doing some more walking I went to my truck to get my chair and swim gear and took it to the beach. Sylvia was already there and we chatted for a while. Since a lot of people know we meet there a lot of heads pop over the railing above our meet up spot and yell down to us. My folks walked by and said hi and later Pete K. dropped in as well. Between random visitors I dozed off a little in my chair while soaking in the sun… it was warming up and felt great.
Eventually we had 4 swimmers total – me, Sylvia, Duke and Chad. We weren’t sure exactly where we wanted to go today. We decided to swim straight out to the end of the pier and then decide because even though it was warm on the beach the water temps had tanked after our out of season spike on Wednesday. We didn’t get an “official” reading at the pier, but the nearest NOAA buoy was reading 51-52 and we guessed it was 53 at best where we swim.
We were all pretty slow getting in the water today, even the guys in wetsuits were hurting in the water. Each set of waves had maybe one that was big enough that you couldn’t avoid it, so when that finally showed up it pretty much meant we had to start swimming because we were all wet now.
I felt pretty good on the way out to the end of the pier, my hands thawed out and once I got the cold out of my system I could really enjoy that warm sun on my back. We had an onshore breeze blowing so this leg had a little bit of mild chop, but nothing that bad. Duke, Chad and myself got to the tip of the pier at about the same time and agreed amongst ourselves to aim for the reef buoy out towards the point. We generally don’t swim over there so we figured it would be different and interesting. We waited (and drifted in the current) for Sylvia to catch up to see if she wanted to come along or do her own thing today. She was in for the full swim so we all set off together to the buoy.
We angled right for the buoy and the three of us guys held fairly close together. We stopped just shy of the buoy because it’s always surrounded by a bunch of kelp and as much fun as kelp is I prefer to not swim over it unless I really have to.
No one was particularly motivated to go long today so from here we decided to go over to the buoy line, swim it to the pier and then turn towards home. Between the reef buoy and the buoy line I picked up the pace a bit and pushed it for maybe half the distance. I need to work on swimming faster more often in open water. I fall to easily in my “forever” pace when I hit cold water. It’s like my body doesn’t want to go fast because it’s worried I might be in for the next 4-8 hours or something :) We took a brief pause at the buoy line to regroup and then set off again. I did maybe 50m of butterfly just to move my shoulders in a different direction and keep my heart rate up.
On the way back to shore I stopped half way and looked for a wave to body surf, it was pretty slim pickings. We had two in a row roll through but they broke to far out for me to get on. I kept waiting until I finally found one I could ride and sprinted up into it. I was carried to the beach way up on top of it… whooooo! I walked out in search of one more but apparently I was being greedy… one wave was all I was being alloted today. After waiting forever for something I gave up and waded back to the beach.
On the beach I ran into one of my buddies that I used to work with when I was in the car business and we talked for a while on the sand. Luckily it was sunny and warm there so i didn’t have to get worried about getting cold while standing around all wet. From there I got back to my chair, changed into dry clothes and spent probably the next hour just hanging out on the beach with everybody that swam today.
So far pretty awesome day! I decided to keep it rolling instead of going home. I ate lunch in SLO and then drove out to Los Osos and Montana de Oro to check out the beach and poke through the tide pools. It’s a little out of the way, but just unreasonably gorgeous out there. You have to walk maybe half a mile from the parking lot to the water, but it’s totally worth the effort.
Last time I went to MDO my feet got pretty beat up on the rocks. I tend to go barefoot where ever water is involved, but this area is a little too rough for me. Luckily not too long after that experience SwimOutlet sent me some water shoes from their Sporti line to check out. They definitely did the job for the bottoms of my feet, but were no match for the big unfriendly grains of sand on this beach. They’d be awesome for around a pool or at a water park, but if you get them full of coarse sand there’s no way to get that out without taking them off and trying to rinse them out.
It was fairly empty down by the water at this point in the day and I had all the tidepools and rocky outcroppings largely to myself. I took lots of pictures and found all kinds of anemones, hermit crabs, starfish and other cool stuff like that. I didn’t see much in the way of mammals this time though… last time I was out seals and otters were pretty abundant. They must have been hiding somewhere a little calmer because the surf was ripping pretty hard where I was hanging out.
After watching a seagull unsuccessfully attempt to swallow a starfish bigger than its head for about 10 minutes I decided it was time to go… as funny as it was it was obvious he wasn’t going to win or give up so this could take all day :) I hiked back up through the hills to my truck and begrudgingly made my way inland. I should be back in oceanic action tomorrow with some Boogie Monday excitement… it’s only been a few hours but I already feel the need to be salty again! Ahhh, it’s going to be a long Monday!