Saturday, September 3, 2011

Conditions for the Oceanside Labor Day Pier Swim

I just went down to the pier to check out the conditions and was quite pleased with the much smaller size of the waves out there.  The ocean is still very rough with the rip current moving north on the inside but the size of the waves was probably topping out at 4 feet.  The waves were messy, lousy shape, but with lots of strong, white water surge to them.  It looks like the conditions will improve more tomorrow and then be even better Monday.
Who knows what's going on with the currents out past the pier?  You really have to jump in there to feel which direction the water takes you, and you don't want to be swimming against the current out there.  Hopefully, early Monday morning the Oceanside Swim Club people will jump in the water out past the pier to feel the movement, if any, of the currents. 
Now for the rip currents when we enter the water.  They will still be there; the rip current has been very reliably moving from south to north for the last few months every day.  Will we be starting on the north side of the pier and have the rip pull us north away from the pier pilings and then angle back toward the end of the pier as we get farther out?  Or will we be getting in on the south side of the pier and for sure have the rip currents in the surf zone pull us toward the pilings of the pier?  This is not a good idea for safety reasons unless the start is moved farther south of the pier-say two hundred yards or so.  This should give the experienced ocean swimmer ample time to swim through rough breakers and get out past the surf zone before getting too close to the pier.  The outside currents past the surf zone and past the bear will need to be experienced before race starting points and swim direction are decided.  I took a few pictures just before dark Saturday night and they are shown here.  I'll check it out Sunday and report again.

Oceanside Labor Day Pier Swin Still On

see link from North County Times

Is Pier Swim On?

Friday Before Oceanside Labor Day Pier Swim Conditions and Swimmer Rescued

I went to the beach to swim if it was safe, but no deal late Friday afternoon.  I took a look at the Harbor and the waves were powerful, about 8 feet, big surge, but much more well-defined than yesterday.  Not safe to swim at the Harbor for sure.  No surfers there.
Then I parked at the south side of the pier and watched.  The rip current was running strong to the north from the sand to the end of the surf zone, from my observations.  There were 4 separate breaks, or lines of waves breaking parallel to the beach.  One would have to swim through 4 sets of waves to get out past the surf zone.  You would also have to start the race far south of the pier so the swimmers wouldn't get swept into the pier pilings before getting out past the surf zone.  It might be possible, though, depending on the day's conditions because the current far outside the surf zone & past the pier has been completely opposite to the inside rip current, or mild or neutral past the pier, in my recent swims over the past few weeks.
There were waders playing in the inside water-up to chest high-and being pulled northward.  One surfer only.  The lifeguards were vigilant.  Not ten minutes passed before what appeared to be a girl-maybe teenager-was out too far; she was between the first and second breaks and got into trouble.  I was watching her, and I was watching the lifeguards at the first south tower watching her:  #1 tower, I think.  I always get the odd and even tower numbers mixed up. 
Well, her arms didn't look right: she ended up with two arms upward and her neck was flush with the water surface.  I saw the lifeguard start to run off the tower and stop abruptly; was she in trouble or not, we both wondered?  I was taking inventory of my street clothes that I was wearing: long pants, shoes, shirt, wallet & keys in pockets, tighty whitey undies underneath.  They would fall off in a second if I jumped in after stripping down and heading into the water to assist, if needed.  That's all she would need to see: a fat, bald, old white guy running toward her in his skivvies-she just might rather drown than have that as her last vision on this planet.
Fortunately for all of us, a girl-teenager maybe-just in a little closer to the beach from her, had some water training and she waved BOTH arms over her head back & forth-the signal that a life & death rescue is needed.  Remember: if one needs help in the water you wave ONE arm over your head back and forth to signal for lifeguard help if death is NOT imminent.  Well, seeing both arms cinched the deal; the lifeguard tore out there with fins and the orange banana float, adjusting for the rip current.  He arrived near her but about fifteen feet south of her, which he covered in a flash and took a hold of her with the flotation device. 
After that, they both relaxed: the lifeguard put the banana float strap over his shoulder across his neck and lay on his back and did a backstroke in to the sand with fins on and the teenage girl fine holding on the orange float.  Successful, very smooth, professional rescue.  The lifeguard was the young guy with the blonde-white curly hair, about 3-4 inches long-his hair that is.  I know what you started thinking about-shame on you! He is maybe 20 years old, thin, and a regular guard there.  Sorry, I don't know his name but he is excellent!
Then I walked to the north side and there were about 8-10 surfers trying to get out into the big waves.  Waves were spread out (the interval) but closing out and only rideable in a few small areas.  One surfer was successful getting short rides on big waves just next to the pier.  The others either spent all their time trying to paddle out through the mess or sitting on their boards just outside the surf zone. 
I really wanted to get into the water with fins and my swimmer's safety vest with the CO2 cartridge and get out past the big waves if possible.  I wavered for ten minutes, ambivalent, and decided against it because my neck and back are still healing up.  Really-I didn't chicken out!  I just played it wise and safe.  I hope the surf settles down for Monday's Pier Swim.  If the Pier Swim were to be held on a day like yesterday we would be looking at drownings possibly, and many rescues for sure.  Not a good idea.
I remember a short triathlon that I did about 9-10 years ago on Camp Pendleton: a 2.2 mile ocean swim, a 25 mile bike ride, and a 6.2 mile run.  The surf was BIG and ROUGH and one guy drowned in the middle of the swim, and the lifeguards on jet skies were doing rescues as fast as possible-just grabbing people by the arm, speeding in not even to the sand, dropping them off, and whipping out for another rescue.  It was quite exciting, except for the sad, tragic loss of the drowned man-a man from San Francisco in his 40's as I recall.
Later this afternoon (I'm writing on Saturday 9-3-11) I will drive to the beach and check the conditions.  If a dip in the water is warranted and safe, I'll get in.  I'll bring the camera. Check the link for another shark sighting in San Diego, Aug 30.
Another Shark-Oh, boy.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

What's Up With The Sharks in San Diego Lately?

I haven't been in the water for about four days because my neck and back need some rest time.  However, I saw that there was a third shark sighting in La Jolla and also a shark sighting in Pismo Beach, in the Central Coast.  Here are links:,0,6326780.story

I drove by the beach at the harbor in Oceanside, CA after work today (Thursday) and there were some big, powerful waves hitting the beach one after another.  Closed out waves, nothing for a surfer to ride.  It was not a place for a swimmer either.  I also drove by the Oceanside Pier and it wasn't as rough, but the beach was still too rough for swimming. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sunday Low Tide Swim Hot Water Oceanside California Pier Shark Report

I didn't take any pictures Sunday because I was not refreshed or invigorated by my mile training swim.  I don't know what was going on with the water but it was like swimming in a warm, stagnant lake.
The water was flat but silty and sort of muddy.  Waves about 2 feet. This was low tide, so maybe that had something to do with it.  I felt so slow in the swim-41 minutes-but it felt like an hour and a half. 
But when does the ocean get too hot for a refreshing swim?  Sunday.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Glassy Water Saturday Afternoon

My last picture shows the larger waves on the south side of the pier.  There were good waves 3-4 feet on the south side and swimming in was beautiful.  There was a gentle, flat, but very noticeable swell of a good three feet that I saw from the outside past the breakers looking in.  I love the way that the ocean on such a day moves with one wavelike motion up and down before the wave forms and breaks. 
When I went in on the north side-about two hundred yards north of the pier, the inside mild rip current was flowing gently north like a river.  Just past the small waves-about 2 feet-I hit a great glassy ocean surface like a swimming pool, only bigger and mine alone.  I had a 37 minute swim with no current, nothing bothering me, no jet skies, no boats, etcetera.  Just my side glimpses of a partly-cloudy sky and the sun as I swam along.  Theere was a big crowd on the pier and I was all that there was to see for them-one slow swimmer not in a hurry to go anywhere.  Afterward, I jogged back along the beach to where I began.  A nice swim.