It was only a matter of time until we hit a day with water in the 40′s. We don’t get a ton of it, but February to April is prime season for some freezing. Temps had been hovering around 51 on the nearest buoy but we know that you typically have a standard two degree deduction at the beach this time of year. That formula was spot on when I went to go check the temperature with Niel today… 49! Look out! The good news was that the sun was shining and the sky was cloudless. The bad news was that the surf was up and so was the wind. We started with a strong offshore wind that abruptly changed direction about when we started swimming.
When Allison and I drove down to Avila we had a new kayak with us. Allison picked up a rad 12 1/2 foot fishing style kayak that we think will be awesome for swim support. It’s so stable they even put a standing pad in it! She test drove it last weekend before buying it, but today was going to be its first real world try out. As we drove up to the beach we were greeted by the sight of big surf and a whole crew of surfers. That’s odd. We made a command decision that we weren’t going to risk a kayak surf launch in head high waves. Just didn’t seem like a good idea! I took her down to the sport launch down in the port and she paddled over to the main pier from there. Thanks to the wind and some gnarly currents that were ripping today it took her about 40 minutes to fight over to the pier! When I got back to the main beach things had mellowed a little bit with the changing tides but there were still some serious set waves rolling through. Ruta brought her inflatable kayak and wanted to launch from the beach. I was pretty concerned with that idea but amazingly she made it out unscathed. A mix of luck, timing, and inflatable magic.
We had a hearty group of 5 swimmers make their way into the water today. Niel, Duke, Byron, Ed and then myself in all my stupid wetsuitless/capless glory. The water didn’t feel too bad at first, but once I got reproductive organ deep I changed my mind about that. It had some bite to it. I took my time acclimating and Duke hung back with me while the other guys sneaked out before the next set came in. Duke and I were caught inside for a minute, and after the 3rd head high wave we figured that was our moment to move.
On the swim out to where the buoy line would be if we still had buoys (we’re using a lot of phantom navigational targets these days), I felt most of the cold in my jawbone from below my ears through my molars. It was an odd sensation. I was hoping my beard would mitigate such things. Alas, as mighty as it is the beard is only effective to a certain point :) We met up with the kayakers at the phantom buoy line and Allison was sitting sideways in her boat cross-legged shooting the shit with the guys that got there first. She’s very happy with the new boat, she can crawl all over that thing and feel pretty comfortable.
The group swam down towards fossil point and we sent the kayakers ahead to act as the finish buoy. From that corner we swam up to the tip of the pier. That swim was a bit of a struggle. The chop was really kicking and I sucked some water down through my nose. I had to stop and cough that stuff out… I haven’t done that in forever, I felt like an amateur! Haha. I did feel like my swimming has gotten a little too far away from me though. I need my pool to come back online so I can build my speed and endurance back up because I suck right now.
At the tip of the pier we decided to swim back down the length of the pier. I chatted with Allison briefly before she made the turn to go back to the port. When I was done swimming I would be the one to run down there and pick her and the kayak up with the truck. Ruta was planning to land at the beach after her miraculous launch before the swim. She looked to me a bit to gauge when to paddle in. I was a little hesitant to give too much advice because she had the better vantage point in the water since she was sitting much higher up than I was. I saw a few rollers inbound and had her hold steady. When it looked like we were getting a break I let her know and she went for it. Part way in I had her stop for a second to let a wave roll past her and then she paddled the rest of the way in. From what I could see one of the next waves caught her and spun that boat around but thanks to the weird flex of it being inflatable we managed to stay upright and I don’t think she got dunked at all. At this point I turned my attention to getting myself in. As luck would have it a monster set was about to land on me. I swam a little further out to let those guys crash. Once the third big wave passed I started to swim in. I think I found a rip current because I got stuck temporarily. Once I got to water shallow enough to stand the undertow started to pull me right back out. I breaststroked a little and then bodysurfed pieces of waves to get me to waist deep water that I could walk out of.
All told I felt pretty good with the water temp. No shivering or chattering although I was a lovely shade of pink. Duke called me a jumbo shrimp. I would have stayed and baked in the sun for a while afterwards but I had to go pick up Allison from the Port. She was all smiles when she got in. I think this new boat (#3 in the last year) is a winner and the other kayaks we’ve got right now are going to be released back into the Craigslistian wild.