Tuesday, December 9, 2008

More Eagle Harbor day 10

My Eagle Harbor swim vexes me. What's the source of my dismay in gazing at the Harbor's underside? Is it really so sad, or am I coloring the water somehow with my attitude? Could the pollution be in me?

I did see more garbage on this leg than any other, but that's no surprise. As a sharp contrast, Blakely Harbor was fun and glorious even though it's the site of long-abandoned heavy industry.

Eagle Harbor's dismality is a new puzzle, and I don't have all the pieces yet. I want to dive in again soon to swim the north shore and try again. In the next leg or two I'll reach the ferry maintenance yard and ferry dock, and the question of what to do. Around, under, or avoid? It would be so easy to slip under the ferry dock, so long as nobody raises an alarm.

air temp: 47F
water temp: 49F
Dec 7, 2:00 pm cloudy, light rain
wind calm
medium tide, falling
visibility 10-20 feet
today's distance: 1.56 mile
total so far: 10.37 miles

today's notables:
spotted ratfish
shark buoy

Today, I have a timeline, I've got a mile to swim (or so I thought) and an hour before I'm due for the promised Christmas tree hunt with my kids. A wonderful swim first (or so I thought), then a nice family afternoon. My supportive wife drops me off and plays with the kids on the beach. She probably cringes as much as I do when I drop under the first marina. Maybe more, since it's harder to watch and not know whether there's a problem.

I'm cautious of obstacles, dangling cables that could snag and trap. But the first marina and dock are clear. At least clear of debris. The water is murky brown/green and it's dark and hard to see more than about 10 feet. I kick through the worst of it with my hands in front of me in case I miss seeing a problem.

No worries, it's clear swimming. And on to the next dock. I see a few oysters on the gravel and sand bottom, and a spotted ratfish. Enough to say it's not a dead ocean under all of this use.

It gets old, ducking under docks, swimming inside of a marina boom. I swim faster than usual to get past the worst of it.

But somehow, clearing the docks doesn't clear my head. I'm out in some open water but it's not that fun. I strike on ahead hoping to cruise through the murk and find something--anything--that transforms the harbor into a delight.

I keep stopping and watching for boats, I'm in a harbor and it's possible I could miss hearing the whine of the motor. Nothing except a couple of delightful kayakers, my first on these swims. They obligingly start to paddle by until I hail them. We chat a bit, me bobbing strangely at the surface without treading water. The buoyancy of two wetsuits is fun, I can float vertically at neck level with no work. They paddled over from Wing Point, ducking under the same docks, etc. No, I'm not really a maniac.

It turns into a long swim. My google maps measurements have to be off, I know I've gone a mile and there's some distance left to swim. My family gives up waiting when I'm not done in an hour, because they have to pick up a friend for a play date. We left a car at the exit point, so I can make it home, but I end up being late.

Finally, I come around the last point and head across the flats to the car, another quarter mile or so. It's murky, the bottom is silty, and I still feel down about the whole thing.

Whatsoever posesses me to turn day 10 so negative? I don't know, at least not yet. I'll be back to these sites or nearly so on my way back out of the harbor. For better or for worse.

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