Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saturday, January 22nd Oceanside Harbor Beach

I went out at 12:30 PM to catch a swim from Surfride Street heading north. The water was chillier than yesterday, approx. upper fifties. Surfline quoted 56-58 degrees. Waves were big and plentiful. The waves also were not crowded. Sets of up to a solid 6 feet or a little higher were breaking at the South Jetty and the North Harbor Jetty. The North Jetty had more of the surfers enjoying the waves.
I had wanted to challenge myself to a very long swim but got tired sooner than I predicted. I swam from Surfride St. north to the Camp Pendleton Harbor Jetty and turned around. I had wanted to swim it all the way back to Surfride but my stroke disintegrated and the energy was gone. I got out of the water amidst the more highly-skilled surfers between the North and South Harbor jetties.
Foolishly, I swam across the channel into Oceanside Harbor and Camp Pendleton Harbor. Since I had been unable to get around the Pendleton Jetty yesterday, I wanted to get around it today just to see if I could make it. I was at a neutral tide and was very near the Pendleton Jetty but was asked to turn back by a Pendleton lifeguard on a jet ski for my safety. He told me that a boat might enter the harbor and not see me, so I'll stop swimming there. He was very courteous and safety conscious. He rose alongside me for a bit to make sure that I was out of the center of the harbor entrance.
What a beautiful place we have here. Beautiful beaches, clean water, no crowds much of the time, and parking available close to the water. Thank you Oceanside for today!

January 21, 2011 Swimming with Pain

I suppose that it's like the long-distance runner who doesn't feel quite right unless he hits the road and gets his miles in. I have days, not all days by a long-shot, when the water calls to me, drawing me in to its chill and choppiness. I also have the days when the ocean is flat, smooth, and glassy, and attracts me in a different way; it offers a slow, relaxing, almost swimming pool-like swim.

Yesterday, my neck was driving me crazy but I got into the water. I decided to try something different. Just several days ago, sadly, a Marine drowned in the Del Mar boat basin area on Camp Pendleton when an amphibious vehicle conducting training sank. Five Marines escaped unhurt, but the instructor was unable to escape, and lost his life: another hero gone unnoticed by the general public and the media. I imagine him, a twenty-seven-year-old Sergeant, rushing his Marines out to escape, fresh air, and life, while he offered himself up saving his brother Marines.

Well, I swam in the boat basin and headed out the channel that leads out to sea, passing the Oceanside harbor channel and merging with it. The water was calm until the merge of the two jetty channels met the breakwater of the open ocean. Then, I realized that my painful neck was in for a workout. The chop was a foot or two, but the problem was the tide.

In my foolishness to swim a new area unprepared, I neglected to check the tides, or even to give the tides a thought at all, that is until I swam into a very strong incoming tide. My objective had been to take a risk and swim out to the end of the rock jetty on Camp Pendleton, round it, and swim in to the sand of the Camp Pendleton beach.

I swam and swam against the tide, keeping an eye out for sailboats and motorboats coming in to the channel back to their harbor homes. I gave a relaxed wave with my hand, offering a "Hello, I'm fine" greeting to boats passing nearby, so as not to worry them that I was in any danger, for I was not. Thankfully, I am quite relaxed in such situations.

About an hour into my swim against the tide, I realized that I couldn't freestyle anymore, so I switched to kicking on my back, still hoping and expecting to round that jetty and swim in to the beach. Twenty minutes more and I realized that it wasn't going to happen. I turned around and freestyled back into the channel. About fifteen minutes of this and I had not gone far; now it felt like I was still swimming against the tide while heading back in. The tide was still against me, making it unrealistic for me to swim back in down the channel from where I had originated.

So, failure it was for me. I swam to the side and climbed up the rocks of the Del Mar Jetty on the Marine Corps Base side. I walked across the rocks, feet hurting from tiny stones and debris, back to the sand and safety. It was an interesting little adventure for me: a mixture of success and failure, but well worth the while.

Lesson learned: "One can't swim against the tide."

January 19, 2011 Camp Pendleton 21 Area Beach

With my neck hurting from muscle spasms, I wasn't able to swim for some days but I drove down to the beach called Del Mar on Camp Pendleton, CA. There was a warning out for high surf but the waves were no bigger than 4-5 feet sets intermittently. There was a strong chop to the water and the choppy water past the breakers was a good three feet, I'd say.

The water temp seemed a bit warmer, perhaps 60 degrees. All I did was get in and lie on my back to kick out past the surf zone. I have only been in that water there several times so I don't know the conditions well at all. I came in after hanging out about two-hundred yards from the beach. So, I got my water fix in without torquing my neck more. Thank goodness for Flexeril for muscle spasms.

I had been swimming at this Del Mar Beach at the 21 Area on Camp Pendleton about five months ago. At that time, I swam maybe a quarter to a half-mile along/parallel to the beach. It's a hard beach to keep track of your direction while swimming so I'm not a big fan.

Several years ago, approximately 2002, I participated in a triathlon at this beach, which began with a 1.2 mile ocean swim. I remember this swim well because the water was extremely big, rough, powerful, and dangerous. I knew that I would have a swim advantage but would do poorly in the other sections of the triathlon. As it turned out, the lifeguards on jet skis were kept very busy doing water rescues repeatedly. They were racing to swimmers unaccustomed to rough, ocean water, grabbing them to hang on to the jet skis, and dumping them inside the big waves, only to rush out to rescue another person.

When I finished the swim, I stayed for a bit in the surf zone, grabbing onto swimmers having difficulty getting their feet on the sand, pulling them to firm sand with a strong grip, then grabbing another swimmer, just assisting people to gain a foothold. It was quite an exciting swim. Unfortunately, after the event was over, the word was passed that a man had drowned out there past the surf zone, while swimming parallel to the shore. He was found grabbed by another swimmer as the swimmer noticed him just lying face-down while everyone else was swimming by.

As a result, there are no more ocean swims there; now the swims are shorter and held inside the protection of the boat basin, well inside the rock jetties.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A few extra pictures from January 16th

Sunday Oceanside Pier 5 PM

In January can we be any more fortunate than this? No shoveling snow for us today. In fact, the water wasn't even that cold today; I'd estimate 60 degrees. Quite a few surfers enjoying sets of up to 3-5 feet. Past the surf zone the water was glassy and lovely. Mr. R. paddled his 9 footer like a pro and even caught a wave coming in after a rigorous paddle. I was just along for the ride and the relaxation. It's amazing how light one feels when buoyed up by the weight of the water and a wet suit. The sun set while we were out at the end of the pier so we returned to shore in the gloaming-that time period between sunset and darkness.