Sunday, January 25, 2009

Day 16: Murden Cove

Murden Cove is locally famous for large sand and mud flats, easily visible from Manitou Beach Road on a low tide. Swimming the bay on a medium tide means swimming over acres of sand flats in 8-12 feet of water. I ventured out further from shore than usual, since the water close to shore was only 3-4 feet deep.

It was a magical feeling to be slicing through glassy-smooth ocean waters as much as a quarter mile from shore, while looking down at the rippling sandy bottom. It's great fun to put my mask halfway above wagter so I can see both above and below the water at the same time, living in both worlds. I tried to get that in a photo, but it didn't quite work out. Meanwhile, just a few animals to see on the surface, but plenty of evidence of life in the sand.

air temp: 40F
water temp: 45F
Jan 24, 1pm, mostly sunny
wind calm, ocean glassy
medium-high tide, falling
visibility 10-15 feet
today's distance: 1.04 mile
total so far: 17.01 miles

today's notables:
sand dollars
lots of geoducks
huge sand flats

Once again today, I hoped to look for the Olney, as described by Lyon McCandless. However, today I have the rare treat of going out with my family. They dropped me off at Yaquina, and headed to Murden Cove to play on the beach and await the arrival of the strange daddy sea creature. So there wasn't much time to linger and search.

As I head north to Murden Cove, I hover over acres and acres of sand flats. The water is like glass and the sky is partly sunny so it's an incredible day to be floating on the ocean. I dive down to the bottom now and then to take photos and check out something interesting.

I found one dungeness crab posed nicely for a photo (right). Geoducks were plentiful, even with the geoduck dredging going on in deeper water offshore. It's a crazy thing, blasting the ocean bottom with a giant hose (hydraulic dredge) to blow away the sand and leave the clams lying naked to be picked up by divers. It's like tearing up the forest to get the animals.

Finally, nearing shore and the pickup by the enthusiastic team of my wife and kids, I found sand dollars. Too many to count. Here's a closeup of a careless-looking jumble, and a more distant shot showing a tiny fraction of this sand dollar riot. Wow.

Arriving at the beach, my family is visiting with a local woman and her young son. I'd love to stay and chat, but once I stand up in the 40 degree air, after being in the 45 degree water for 45 minutes or so, I only have a few minutes before I start to get REALLY COLD. Walking to my entry point is fine even when it's cold, I actually get sweaty walking in two neoprene wetsuits. Swimming is fine (except for the icy fingers on entry), so long as I stay active. But getting out wet into cold air is not good, it has to be very brief. I peel out of my wetsuits and into warm clothes and I'm fine in a few minutes.

Ahead, the gorgeous Manitou Beach and then some beaches I've never seen. They show up as being below some big bluffs on the topo map, so I don't know about access. Could this be a difficult stretch after Manitou Beach? Will I find some trouble in making progress soon?

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1 comment: said...

You intrigue me with your adventure. Your metaphor about the harvesting of geoduck — "It's like tearing up the forest to get the animals" really made me wonder. Does their environment recover well and do new geoducks move back in the area easily? The process is so out of sight for most of us, not like clear cutting on the mountain side.

Thanks for sharing your journey around the island with us.