My 3rd Pier Swim
by, November 22nd, 2008 at 04:16 PM (1161 Views)
3 rd. Pier Swim
On a sunny Saturday morning, November 8, Linda and I arrived at the Ocean Beach Pier for my 3 rd pier swim. The City of Ocean Beach brags that their 1971 foot long concrete pier is the longest pier on the west coast. It may be the longest concrete pier, but it is not the longest pier. The Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf claims that title as it is 2,745 feet long. Now,…what is the difference between a pier and a wharf? A wharf is a structure that projects into a body of water where ships can dock and unload or load. A Pier is a wharf as well, except that a Pier is also used for strolling and fishing and general entertainment purposes.
Ocean Beach, a funky kind of hippy town , is on the west side of the Point Loma Peninsula which terminates in the Cabrillo National Monument. The main drag in town is Sunset Cliffs Blvd. where I was pleasantly surprised to see 5 churches. The side streets are small and cozy, many small cottages and bungalows, we saw no large houses or mansions although I’m sure there are some .The Ocean Beach Pier has long been the focal point of this beach town since it’s founding in 1888. The pier has existed in several locations, being resurrected in its current location in 1966. We paid 2 bucks for 1 hour parking in a lot about a block or so from the Pier. Our walk to the Ocean took us past a “head shop”, tattoo parlor, and a really funky clothes shop. Reggae music was blaring from a bar that opened onto the sidewalk. All that was missing was the smell of patchouli oil and some Peter Max art work.
We found the beach and I was delighted to see a glassy Ocean. She was resting and happy, relaxed, not wild and angry like she was when I rounded the Crystal Pier. A dozen or so surfers were plying their trade on the north side of the Pier and a few folks were absorbing the sun on the beach. As I went thru my pre-swim ritual Linda got comfortable in her beach chair.
Looking out at the pier I could see a small café and bait shop. The Café is about half way out. Beyond it the pier branches out in two opposite directions, each fork extends about 100 feet. From my observations I would guess that the pier is about 25 feet above the water.
Surfers are restricted to the “real estate” that extends from the Pier to about 100 yards to the right of , or north from the Pier. Swimmers are allowed to enter the water beyond this point and are expected to stay clear of the surfers.
I entered the water about 100 yards beyond the surfer’s area and headed out to sea. The water felt great and I was immediately in another world, a world where gravity had lost most of his power. The Ocean embraced me and drew me out. Each stroke seemed effortless. Being on the right side of the Pier I had it in my sight on every breath. There were no waves, merely occasional swells. After swimming in the straight out for about 15 minutes, I “alligator-eyed” a resting sea gull who was studying me from about 6 feet away.. I stopped, made goofy bird sounds, and continued on .She was not impressed. Before I knew it I was at the end of the right fork of the Pier where many fishermen were enjoying their time. The flatness of the water was spooky, but such a thrill, way too friendly, greatly appreciated.
I swung around the end of the fork, took a pic and checked the water temp, 61 degrees. I could feel myself developing goose-bumps, not from the cool water, but from my emotions. The mood I’m in before I enter the water is often magnified while on a swim. Sometimes all my demons, all of life’s troubles seem to surface and consume me. When this happen I swim hard to escape them, to drown them ,to dissolve them in the sea. Today,.I was blessed with a spirit of contentment, a feeling I did not want to swim away from.
At the half way point of my swim, I rolled over on my back and rested. Not because I was tired, but because it was soothing, otherworldly. I could have easily spent an hour floating there in that aquatic massage parlor.
After 5 minutes or so, I rolled over and pressed on, building up some speed, leaning into the harness, loving every moment. Turning towards shore just past the end of the opposing branch of the pier I took some more pics and made a determined effort to do nothing but swim hard till I could see the bottom. In not too many more minutes I could see a rocky bottom, sea urchins, sea grass. About 100 yards from shore I was in 2 feet of water, but was unable to stand and walk. The sea floor was rough and craggy, slippery, "potholes" abounded. I stayed in a prone position, crawling I pulled myself along with my hands as my legs did nothing but float behind me. Before long I was in inches of water but was uncomfortable walking as I feared taking a tumble. Linda had walked south, under the pier and I could see her standing on the beach. We walked back under the Pier and headed home, without hitting a restaurant , I might add. :^( Our schedule would not allow it. Poor planning on my part. My next swim will be the Scripps Pier in La Jolla where we will make up for my poor planning by eating at Georges on the Cove.
My gps says that I traveled .66 of a mile in 32 minutes, but a good deal of the swim was not recorded due to “poor coverage”. “Poor coverage”…there was nothing between me and the satelites except blue sky,..go figure.