Monday, November 3, 2008

Day 3: South Beach

south beach looking east (left)

south beach looking south (right)

Not a great swim overall, murky water with low visibility. I'll wait for better water before getting in again. Still fun to get wet and I did see some nice crabs and a few fish. Got past the 2 mile mark, so I've seen quite a bit of the wet underside of Bainbridge Island now. I'll be back for more when the water clears. Plenty of winter days have very clear water, so it shouldn't be too long.

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Click blue markers for labels showing entry and exit points for day 3 (and other days)

dungeness crabs (lots)
many colors of starfish
fields of anthopleura

Air temp: 58 F
Water temp: 53F
Nov. 1, 11am, mostly sunny (lucky, rain had been falling for 2 days)
High tide and falling
South wind, 10 mph
Visibility 2-10 feet
Today's distance: 0.54 mile
Total so far: 2.07 miles

Today started badly, the zipper on my wetsuit failed. I switched to my wetsuit because it's hard to move my arms in my drysuit, but the wetsuit is OLD. Just as I was ready to get in the water, the zipper popped open, useless. I took off the wetsuit and got the zipper back together and got in.

To find...the onshore wind had turned the water into MURK. I can barely see my hand at the end of my arm. Should I get out of the water? No, I'll swim along the shore a bit and see what happens. Again, I'm about to give up when I see darkness down below, the bottom. It's barely detectable in about 10 feet of water, so I turn parallel to shore to swim a bit and see if it gets a little better and becomes worth swimming.

After about 50 feet, I get away from the sandy bottom and the water clears. It's worth going on since I can see. With the old wetsuit, I'm getting a lot more water inside my suit, and it's a bit cold. Hmmm...maybe too cold. I swim vigorously for a minute or so to warm up and I think it'll be ok.

I'm swimming along South Beach, and approaching Toe Jam Hill Road. From here, the access is through private land. I'm not sure where I'll find a place to get out without traipsing through someone's yard.

The ocean here is similar to the last two swims, boulders and gravel mostly, with some bedrock shelves and some sandy patches. Fields of anemones, and lots of dungeness crab, mostly just under the legal size (hmmm...wonder why?).

As I swim under a large private dock, I expect to see swarms of fish. Nothing, no fish and not much on the pilings even. Since it's high tide, I'm swimming over areas that are barely underwater during low tide. Our tides can be 10-12 feet, so maybe things are sparse because I can't see the bottom in deeper water, below the low tide line.

I pass through some murky areas, and I can see boulder tops sticking above the surface, with some waves breaking on them. They're tiny waves, so no worries about getting pounded, but I don't want to swim into a boulder without seeing it. I kick slowly, with one hand out in front of my face where the visibility is really bad.

Soon, I decide I'm missing too much and it's not even fun to swim through the murk, and decide to pull out. Looking for a good exit, there's nothing but houses and yards. I choose a staircase between two houses, duck between them and onto South Beach Road, and I'm fine. Nobody visible at either house.

I've learned that I won't do much swimming during an onshore wind with whitecaps, at least not where there's some sandy bottom. The wind makes the water too murky and it's just a swim, with no chance to see the ocean bottom.

Next swim takes me to Bean's Bight Road, and the real private land, with signs warning people off. I'll get in where I got out, and then swim off into the private areas and see what I find for exits.

Private beach land is truly private here in Washington, people can own the shoreline and even the ocean bottom. And they tend to feel righteous about it sometimes. This exclusive area probably has some people who like their privacy, I hear it's old money and longtime family-owned property, so we'll see.

photo: fall on Bainbridge

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