I went on a quick Monterey day trip this past Friday with my girlfriend, and as per usual I figured out a way to sneak in a swim with the Kelp Krawlers while I was in town. They swim Friday nights by Del Monte Beach as opposed to Lovers Point (where I usually swim with them on weekend visits). I’ve never done a Del Monte swim so I was stoked to check this scene out.

obligatory jellyfish and kelp forest shot from the aquarium :)

After a full day of cruising the Monterey Bay Aquarium and exploring exhibits of undersea worlds it was time to go float out in the real deal. We drove over to Wharf II to meet up with the Kelp Krawlers. I wasn’t familiar with the Wharf II nomenclature, but I was told it’s right by the London Bridge Pub which I’m very familiar with from my Army days. After parking we were greeted by my buddy Chris V. Chris is one of the head guys of their informal grouping of ocean enthusiasts and a super cool guy, always smiling and enthusiastic and ready to go have fun. We chatted for a bit as other swimmers started to fill in. Ultimately we had a little more than a dozen.

Chris V

The whole crew! (Minus two that sneaked in early)

Around 6 we filed down to the beach and worked on getting in. It was pretty cold up there on Friday, probably 53 for most of the swim and maybe a degree or two colder right at the beach in the small surf. It took me a minute to acclimate like it always does, but then I took off swimming in hopes of chasing down the main pack at the buoy. These guys don’t stop and regroup quite as often as we do in Avila so I really didn’t want to get too far behind.

swimming to the buoy

getting to the buoy

I managed to catch up and then hang with the A group. The plan was to swim parallel to the beach until we were in line with a set of stairs that come down to the beach. Part of the group would stop a bit earlier in line with some condos to make for a 1 mile swim. I settled in with a couple guys around me and followed them down the beach. The water at Del Monte is pretty murky so I felt right at home like I was in Avila. The flavor was a little off to me though, maybe from all that boat action from the wharfs? I don’t know, it wasn’t that bad but it was noticeable to me anyways.

first stop

At the condos one of the guys I was sighting off of stopped and contemplated how far he was going. We chatted shortly and then decided to swim the rest of the way to the staircase. The water started moving a little more at this point in the swim, but it was just enough to be fun not difficult. At the turn around all the guys who went the distance regrouped and waited for one more swimmer to join back up.

The swim back was a bit of a challenge in that it was right at the sun so sighting wasn’t going to be easy since the wharf and the beach would be backlit by the sun. The guys pointed out a saddle up in the mountains that they use to aim for this leg of the swim, that made it way easier. 3 of us hung together pretty well for most of the swim back. I had one dude in a pink cap on my right and Pete (the other non-wetsuiter of the evening) on my left. I used them to make sure I was on track and flipped over on my back every once and a while to see what everyone else was up to. It was a gorgeous night for a swim and it looked like everybody was having a good time.

out at the far turnaround point

Back at the buoy I hung out for a bit and chatted with one of the other swimmers. While I was floating out there I had bodysurfing on the brain. Some sweet small but clean waves break right along the wall of the wharf and I really wanted to grab a piece of one of them before I had to go home. I swam back to the start of the swim then waded over to where the waves were breaking. I passed on a couple and then found one I liked and went for it. I got a fun ride and even turned over in the middle somewhere before the wave deposited me back on the beach belly first :) Perfect end to a good swim.

Back up on the sidewalk I changed into real clothes and hung out with the other swimmers for a little hatchback tailgating action. I think this is a tradition we need to borrow. I would totally dig a Friday night swim and tailgate at the beach. Avila is a mad house on Fridays due to the Farmers Market, but maybe a Shell Beach swim would be a contender? Hmmm…

Thank you again to Chris and the Kelp Krawlers for hosting me again for a swim, I always have fun in the ocean with those guys. I hope to make my way up again soon!

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