Saturday was a pretty awesome day for me… put in damn near a full 8 hours at the beach! Can’t beat that! I didn’t have anything going on during the day but I knew my buddy Evan was going to come out to the beach eventually so I went out in the morning and planted myself in my usual spot. I watched some Cal Fire people workout a bit. Not sure what exactly they were up to, they’re not usually in Avila, but some of them opted for a swim to the buoy line and back in the middle of all their running about. Once they were gone I watched the water for a bit and did some reading… then, my personal favorite, beach nap time! :) I slept through the overcast conditions and woke up to a fantastically sunny day. I got up intermittently to answer a text but mainly just sprawled out on my mat and snored.
Closer to noon I ventured out into the water for a bit with my bodyboard to mess around and cool off. The wave situation wasn’t much to get excited about and they were really erratic and not coming in typical sets. I spent more time chatting with a stranger from the central valley than actually chasing after waves. After maybe half an hour I rode one into the beach and went back to my napping while I waited for Evan. He wasn’t exactly sure where I’d be but managed to figure out the location of my spot based on pictures from the blog, and he spotted me by the adventure beard poking out from under the hat that was covering my face :)
We spent probably at least an hour sitting on the sand catching up. I think the last time I saw him in person was back on New Year’s Eve when we did a little warm up swim in Santa Barbara for my Pismo Polar Bear swim the next day. Eventually we decided it’d be a good idea to actually swim, especially since the wildlife situation was still pretty mellow. I saw streams of birds way far out that looked like they were moving towards Shell Beach but nothing in the triangle course area.
On the way into the water we had a bunch of kids ask us questions. They wanted to know how far we were swimming and if we’d ever swam out to the rock. When I told them that I’ve swam all the way to Pismo before that got their attention, haha. As we swam away I heard them start talking about sharks… yay sharks :/
Evan is the kind of guy who wins races… stuff like multiple USMS National Championships last year, a Tampa Bay Marathon swim win this spring and a strong 3 place showing in MIMS back in June… he’s way out of my league speed wise. Luckily this was swim number two for him on the day and he at least started slow. I managed to hang through the first half of the triangle… mainly because he backstroked half of it.
As we wound around the buoys down by the point and headed towards the pier the chop really picked up. We were getting rocked pretty well out there. It wasn’t unmanageable but it definitely made life a little bit harder! At the tip of the pier we had a hard time sighting the creek buoy in the middle of all the swells and chop. I did a not so great job of explaining where it’d be and eventually gave up and recommended resighting half way there since we weren’t going to see anything until we were much closer.
Evan opened it up on this leg and pulled away from me. The only thing that got me closer was his occasional stop to try and find that buoy. It was pretty elusive! Once we got there we took a quick break and then swam it in towards the pier. We decided to swim in on that side instead of swimming under. While we were regrouping next to the pier a guy up top talked to us a little bit. He had been watching us all the way around and said that we had a seal trailing us the whole way. We saw our seal escort out at the creek buoy but I didn’t realize he’d been out there the whole time! Sneaky!
From there we swam in and I managed to bodysurf a decent little wave most of the way to the beach. I popped up right in the middle of a bunch of kids holding boogie boards. They didn’t quite know what to think of this large, bald, bearded, tattooed guy who just magically appeared out of the ocean :)
After our swim Evan and I got something to eat and eventually he had to roll out back to Santa Barbara. I’ll be seeing him again this week on Cliff’s Catalina Swim that we’re both crewing and then the week after for his own Catalina Swim that I’ll be crewing.
When we were working on leaving we spotted what turned into probably the biggest bait ball I’ve ever seen in Avila. At first it just engulfed the area around the point end of the buoy line and the reef buoy. Over time more and more birds showed up and it spread from the end of the beach nearest the point to a little past the buoy nearest the pier! It was a crazy amount of sealife all in one spot!
After Saturday’s bait ball and a legit sighting of the landlord by one of our swimmer’s fisherman friends we ended up not swimming on Sunday. I was bummed to lose a swim, but it is what it is. Can’t win’em all.