Sunday, January 11, 2009

Day 14: Yeomalt Point

Inky-oily grey below and velvety grey above. The kind of grey that cheers the locals and tears the California transplants. Driving to the beach, most of the cars had their lights on at noon. January on Puget Sound.

Image: Wing Point looking east from Eagle Harbor on a grey day, with Seattle in the background

Swim around Bainbridge is back to normal, the snow is gone and Ocean Guy is back in the water. I wonder if anything will be different after the front page article in the Times, but nobody says anything to me. That is, none of the 5 or so people I pass while walking from my car at Yeomalt Point back to the Wing Point beach entry.

It's good to get wet again.

Image: Wing Point looking north from the ferry on a much brighter day, with Yeomalt Point just behind in the distance.

air temp: 47F
water temp: 47F
Jan 11, noon, cloudy
wind from south, 5-10 mph
medium tide, rising
visibility 10-15 feet
today's distance: 1.14 mile
total so far: 14.65 miles

today's notables:
moon snails

It's a fairly calm day, but very dark and grey. My first real chance to swim in over 3 weeks. Too long. I'm going even though I won't see much. I can't google up any answers on light attenuation by heavy clouds, but I'm guessing today has no more than 10% the light of a bright sunny day.

As I'm zipping into my wetsuit, catastrophe, the zipper separates at the fully open position. Only it's not the kind of zipper that's supposed to separate. Oh no, the damn thing's broken. Peeling out of the top half, I work hard and manage to get the zipper back together and run the zipper up a couple of inches. This might work. I re-enter the suit and close the zipper carefully. I think I'm good for today, but this bodes ill for the future. I can't afford a fancy new wetsuit right now...Argh.

But back to the matter at hand. Parking at Yeomalt Point, I walk towards Wing Point. It's nice to be out of town so I can walk to my entry point on little roads without many people. I feel odd hiking in a wetsuit carrying my fins, mask, hood and gloves.

Slipping into the cooler water at Wing Point-down to 47F now-it's dark underwater. A bit of murk, and the heavy sky means I have to look closely to see what's happening underwater. Just a few whitecaps and almost no swell.

The Wing Point sandbar is a long shallow point that reaches well out into the Sound. It'll be worth coming back here again on a day with bright sun and glassy water. Suddenly there they are again, moon snails. Lots of them. It's a quick swim out to the point, much quieter than last time I was here. I don't linger because the visibility isn't good enough for a big day exploring the underwater point.

Around the corner, there's a low bank beach rises up to a bluff that hangs over most of the swim, with a narrow beach at the water's edge. The bottom is similar to Wing Point, mixed patches of sand and gravel with a few boulders here and there.

I see someone trolling by in a small fishing boat, and one ferry. Otherwise I'm alone. Who would go out on the water on a day like this?

Between the two points the land indents a bit, and the water is glassy in the elbow. It's fun to put my mask half-in/half-out and kick slowly along watching both sea and sky.

This area was favored by Native Americans before European settlers arrived in the mid to late 1800s, and Yeomalt Point is rumored to be named for the currents that swept bodies to shore following accidents at sea. There is a bit of a current pushing me, but I'm not in the same boat as those early swimmers landing on Yeomalt.

One local told me to watch out for the rip currents here, Yeomalt is a place where two currents meet and push out to sea. With my flippers and the calm wind, I can't imagine a current strong enough to cause a problem.

I cruise to shore landing gently on a gravel beach, and rest there briefly and watch the grey, above and below. It's good to be back home.

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