Sunday, June 27, 2010

Day 38, Finish Party at Fort Ward Park

June 27, 2009. We did it, we finished the Swim Around Bainbridge and had a fantastic party to celebrate!!! I haven't been able or willing to write a finishing blog post, that will have to wait. But here's the basic news, I'm done and it was a fantastic trip.

BTW, I'm keeping this post at the top of the blog, page down for some more recent swimbi doings.

air 66F
water 51F
wind variable 0-5 mph
visibility 5-20 feet
low tide, falling
June 27, 2009, noon
today's distance 0.54 mile
total 41 miles

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

day 42 lytle beach

Warm late summer day with glassy-calm water. Perfect for following the dance of the light waves on the sandy bottom of Lytle Beach. Ah........ (see photo at right).

And I can think of no better way to join the World Wildlife Fund's "What a Difference a Day Makes" tweet-fest. I'll tweet this post and join the fun.

I swam around Bainbridge Island to encourage people to get connected to their local ocean, lake, river, pond or stream. And today I swam a mile for WWF24. Here's one thing I saw, a Sea Blubber (big jellyfish, see photo).

air: 75F
water: 55F
wind calm
visibility 5-20 feet
tide low, rising
Sep 22, 3pm

sea blubber jellyfish (huge, 20 inches across)
light on bottom

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Day 37: Lytle Beach

I can smell the finish now, and I'm ready for the finishing party June 27th at Fort Ward State Park at noon. Come join if you can.

How fitting to approach the finish line on a grey northwest day, this time in June. Much like day 1 back in October 2008. I've seen a lot of grey this winter, both above and under the surface. You might say I've become a connoisseur of grey. The water and the air are also about the same temperature as on the day of my first swim.

Today I got in at Lytle Beach and swam almost to the Fort Ward Park boat ramp where I began just over 8 months ago, on Oct. 13, 2008. Remaining, just a small cermonial swim of about 100 feet. On June 27th, we'll do that in a group, and then have a celebratory half mile swim to the picnic area for the hardy. Then a party!!

Lytle Beach was beautiful on a low tide, thick eelgrass and some kelp beds, with a nice assortment of fish and invertebrates. Here's a cabezon (right) that was (apparently) guarding eggs in the shallow water.

Another interesting sight was this "fried egg" jellyfish (left), I don't know what it is so to me it's the over easy jellyfish.

air temp: 58F
water temp: 52F
June 19, 2009, 10 am, cloudy
wind calm
extremely low tide, rising
visibility 5-15 feet
today's distance: 0.74 mile
total so far: 40.81 miles

sea cucumber

I park at the Fort Ward Park boat ramp, just like day 1. Only this time I walk north for 3/4 of a mile to Lytle Beach to get in for my swim back to Fort Ward. It's exciting to be trekking this stretch of beach, knowing that this is my last big swim, and also my last solo swim. The ceremonial finish will be a social event, much different than most of this circuit.

Lytle Beach is deserted when I arrive, and I pile into the water on an extremely low tide. Immediately, I'm back into the kelp and eelgrass forests, parting the fronds to swim through and seeing animals everywhere. These low tide swims are great for seeing ocean life when the visibility is low, I'm immersed in murk and find the animals usually at arm's length, eyeball to eyeball (for those with visible eyes).

The bottom is a bit rocky, transitioning to sand as I move south. Mostly eelgrass over the sand, although a few lonely kelp plants try to hang on to whatever they can, often just small rocks. Loads of jellyfish, in the eelgrass and more open water. Also a few interesting red/orange sea cucumbers(?) (left).

I come upon some pilings, crowded with starfish and crabs (right).

Finally, I'm approaching the boat ramp and my starting point. I get out about 50 feet before my starting point from last October, leaving a short stretch for the finishing swim and party June 27th. Wow, I can't quite believe it's coming down to one last swim.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Day 36: Pleasant Beach

Great swimming off Pleasant Beach, the fun continues. The nearshore ocean bottom is covered with a thick bed of 3-dimensional plant life, including some of the most magnificent eelgrass beds I've yet seen. The thick tall eelgrass beds are easily 6 feet tall in places, and so thick it's difficult to part the leaves and see the bottom.

Fish and all the other eelgrass animals are plentiful and easy to see, the cover seems to make them less likely to dash away when I swim near them. The rock sole above right was a fantastic find, and it never did swim away. After I came along it just slowly hovered off the bottom and moved almost imperceptibly into thicker cover. Finally, it hid it's head ostrich-like under some sea lettuce and seemed satisfied.

Lots of tubesnouts in this area, and juvenile salmonids, small and large surfperch, crabs, piddocks, geoducks, a few oysters, moon snails. Pretty much all of my favorites.

Wow, a great beach and close to home. A sweet closure indeed to cross through the last few miles heading for the start-finish line less than a mile south now.

air temp: 66F
water temp: 54F
June 10, 2009, 1:30 pm, sunny
wind 0-5 mph, from S
extremely low tide, slack
visibility 5-15 feet
today's distance: 0.87 mile
total so far: 40.07 miles

today's notables:
rock sole
juvenile salmonids (species unknown)
thick eelgrass, also kelp, algae

I park at Beck Rd and walk on the beach north and west to my start at the Schel-Chelb Estuary, a restored estuary that hosts spawning chum salmon in the fall. Very nice project that looks like a success to me (only an eyeball survey, no data).

As soon as I drop into the knee-deep water, I find thick eelgrass beds and lots of animals. Fish, crabs, etc. Kelp covers every underwater surface of a floating dock. The water is a bit murky, but I can see well enough to have a great swim, mostly about 10 feet or so. One new sighting is a snake prickleback (right) an interesting little eel-like fish (right).

Once again I see many jellyfish, small and large. They are all around, in the more open water and also among the eelgrass beds. Here are two that caught my eye.

First I swim east to Lynwood Center, then south along the shore past Beck Rd. The underwater plants are thick at the corner and south to Beck Rd, the water has a thick, soupy look and feel, with a slick surface (right, a view of the surface). Not sure if it shows up in the picture.

The view towards Bremerton (right) from the beach looks in the direction of the naval base. Twice I've seen aircraft carriers scooting through this channel towards Bremerton and they are BIG. They make the channel and nearly 300 foot ferry boats look tiny.

One more swim and then the grand finale June 27th!

I come across two crabs fighting over a dead fish, each of them managing to tear off pieces to eat. They tug and pull every now and then,, but neither can get the fish away from the other crab so eventually they resume eating, each from their end (left).

The eelgrass is so thick and tall here that I have to swim through it, even though I'm in about 6 feet of water. Nice. I come to a floating dock and find a stunning view of feather duster worms upside down on the bottom of the float, with the streaming kelp and algae that cover the anchor cables in the background (right).

I'm approaching the channel marker at Lytle Beach, this is really my home waters. Lytle Beach is a very cute road end beach with public ownership very limited. It has an informal public park shared reasonably well with the private landowners nearby. There have been rough spots in the relationship, but mostly the sharing works. From here, I can see my start/finish clearly, Ft. Ward state park which is really my closest home water and beach (left).

Monday, June 8, 2009

Day 35: Point White 2

Just another lousy day in paradise, and a bald eagle perched on a rock near Point White. Today I saw more wonderful bottom and shore on the southeast side of Point White. Kelp, algae, and non-native wireweed make a thick bed of plants that are a great home to crabs, fish, and other animals. The bottom slowly changes from rocks and boulders to gravel to sand and eelgrass replaces the other plants.

Here's the biggest Dungeness crab I've ever seen, and he happens to be clutching a mate. I measured this crab at about 10 inches across the carapace, wow.

A lot of the crabs were mating, I saw maybe 10 or 20 mating pairs, including several different species--including red rock crabs and odd hairy-looking crabs that I think are helmet crabs.

The swimming here is loads of fun, I move slowly to watch everything. Lots of jellyfish including this one with a very yellow middle (left) and this fragile-looking clear one (right).

More big crabs than anywhere else I've seen, and lots of fish. Even one fairly large starry flounder that I scare up when I'm no more than a foot away. I get a close up view of it's eye as it startles and dashes away. A swimming raft near Pleasant Beach has schools of fish underneath, mostly surfperch, and one young lingcod lingering nearby.

air temp: 60F
water temp: 51F
June 7, 2009, 11 am, mostly cloudy
wind variable, 0-5 mph
extremely low tide, slack
visibility 5-10 feet
today's distance: 0.90 mile
total so far: 39.20 miles

today's notables:
starry flounder
breeding crabs, including BIG crabs
thick plants, kelp, wireweed, algae, eelgrass

I enter just east of the Point White channel marker and find better visibility and a fantastic view. Big boulders covered with kelp, algae, and wireweed make a thick 3-dimensional bed of plants and parting the canopy with my hands reveals lots of life.

The tide is still ebbing, and there's a slight current heading east so I drift with my camera and just watch everything. It's a bit chilly since I'm not generating any heat, so eventually I start swimming just to stay warm.

The bottom slowly changes to smaller rocks and eventually to sand, and near my exit on Pleasant Beach (just west of Lynwood Center) the eelgrass takes over. Rich, thick eelgrass several feet high, with lots of animals lurking on and around the plants.

As I get out, I look south towards Ft. Ward Park and the start--and end of my swim around Bainbridge Island. It's maybe a mile and a half away. Here's a photo looking south towards Ft. Ward from Pleasant Beach (right). THe point in the foreground is Lytle Beach, a popular community access point at the public road end and informal community park.

Here's a crab menagerie, this is just a small sample of the wonderful world of crabs on Point White.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Day 34: Point White

Point White is my new favorite spot. I found a huge kelp forest covering the bottom and the scattered boulders. Wow. Thick kelp provides a nice 3-dimensional living habitat. Here's a kelp crab on...kelp (left).

I saw more fish than anywhere else, a lot more, including the hugest school of shiner surfperch that streamed past me for minutes. It seemed like there were many, many thousands of them.

Point White had miraculous abundance, at least today, like a tropical coral reef. My other favorites included some luminescent-looking jellyfish (left), many different crabs, etc., etc. More pictures below. It was a bit cloudy, so I didn't get very good pictures of anything. I'll probably go back for more pictures.

During this swim, as I came around the corner of Point White, I saw my finish for the fisrt time since I swam south away from Ft. Ward park last October. Now I'll be coming back to Ft. Ward from the northwest in just two more miles of swimming.

Here's a photo of Point White from the north, looking at the channel marker, the mainland of the Kitsap Peninsula is in the background, and the Bremerton ferry is steaming by. The kelp forest is just under the surface here.

air temp: 73F
water temp: 52F
May 29, 2009, 4 pm, sunny
wind N, 0-5 mph
extremely low tide, slack
visibility 2-10 feet
today's distance: 1.13 mile
total so far: 38.30 miles

kelp forest
huge schools of surfperch, flatfish, rock gunnel hiding under kelp, crabs, jellyfish, etc.

Just before this swim, I got a tip from Lyon McCandless about the boulder garden near Point White. I'm eager as I get in at the Point White pier.

The water is cloudy, but a lot better than last time. I'll be able to see enough to make it worthwhile. Just as I'm starting, I see a nice little 6-inch flatfish. It's not close enough to identify, but a good sign.

Swimming south towards Point White, I find bunches of kelp, more than I've seen anywhere else this close to shore. I'm excited. Soon I'm swimming through a lush 3-dimensional kelp forest. The tidal current keeps the kelp fairly close to the bottom, but it still provides lots of cover and there are lots of animals taking advantage of it and hiding among the leaves. Parting the leaves shows crabs and fish almost everywhere, including an interesting looking green gunnel that kept darting just far enough away to elude me.

Near the actual Point White, a massive school of shiner surfperch started streaming past me, and it went on for several minutes, a continuous flow of fish. It seemed like a million of them.

Rounding the Point, I saw Ft. Ward state park, my starting and finishing point. It's about a mile and a half away straight line distance, and about 2 swimming miles away. I can smell the finish of this swim around Bainbridge. Check out the map below, there's just one small unswum gap in the cove on the southwest end.

I'll be back to Point White, this is too good to visit just once.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Day 33: Crystal Springs 2

This is the land of murky water, at least right now. My lowest visibility swim yet, if not for a family fun plan I would likely have stayed out of the water. But then again, spring plankton blooms are a part of life here, so why not swim through a soupy spring day in the Sound?

Today's low tide is -3.4 feet, one of the lowest tides of the year. With today's high of 11.8 at 6:52 pm, that's a tidal range of 15.2 feet in just over 6 hours. Wow.

My wife and kids dropped me off at the north end of my swim, Crystal Springs Rd by Baker Hill Rd. The plan is for me to swim just over half a mile to the Point White pier, where they'll be looking for interesting things exposed by the super low tide and playing in the water. Kids seem to swim in any water, even 51F, it's amazing. I remember those days, but it hardly seems real since I only get in this water with a lot of rubber on my body.

The plankton is thick, part of the time I can't see my fingertips with my arms extended in front of me. I watch above the surface or swim with one arm ahead of me at all times to avoid running into something.

When I arrive at Pt. White pier, there are my two kids frolicking along with some friends from the hood (left). That's my 7 year old daughter in the green shirt and my 4 year old son in the orange shirt, and their friends next to them. The adults are smartly standing at the edge of the cold water, watching.

air temp: 58F
water temp: 51F
May 24, 2009, 11:30 am, sunny
wind variable, 0-5 mph
extremely low tide, slack (-3.4 feet)
visibility 1-5 feet
today's distance: 0.62 mile
total so far: 37.17 miles

algae bloom
extremely low tide, excursion 16 feet

I get in at Crystal Springs Rd, and immediately realize this is a low visibility swim. The shoreline is muddy brown, with visibility about 1 foot. Further offshore, I can see up to 5 feet but I can't see the bottom clearly anywhere. It's a foggy blur through the soup. I opt for swimming out of the gloom, even where I can't see the bottom.

"Where am I?" (right) I do a few dives just to see what's on the bottom, and find myself in 10 feet of water above some amazingly colorful starfish on a big boulder. No hope for a photo, except a green cloudy view of the blogfish.

When I pull out of the water, it's great to have a greeting, and spend an hour poking through the algae and sand, digging hopelessly after retreating geoducks, looking at great critters, and generally having ocean fun. Here's a picture of my wife standing by Pt. White pier (left), the water reaches within a few feet of the dock on a high tide.

The mussel crust on the pilings is just one of the interesting sights (right).

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