Monday, August 4, 2014

The Green Gong (and more)

I have been lucky enough to swim in the ocean 5 days a week for quite awhile and although all the swims have been great I have a few that I wanted to post.

1st.  The Green Gong.

Yeah, I know I told you that we swam the "Bell" not too long ago, but a few weeks later Bill motored us out to the "Gong" and we swam into Kelly.  

The Green Gong.  Note the three upside down bronze saucers with the 2 mallets.  The Green Bell has a small brass bell.

Tom and Gabor

The swimmers and Capt Bill pre-swim  (from left:  Dan, Tom, Bill, Joel, Randy, Gabor)
 These two buoys are always on my mind when I'm on the beach or bike trail; On some days they seem so close and easy that an out-and-back seems do-able, but other days they might as well be the Farallones.  For this swim it was perfect.

We didn't have much sun, but the water was flat and slightly warmer (55?) and we could SEE!

Swimming in Hawaii and SoCal you are spoiled by great water visibility.  SF Bay swimmers and HMB swimmers rarely can see 6 feet below, but out at the buoy we had +20 and were able to see (and touch) a dozen moon jellies - they are white/bluish and semi-transparent and I think they feel like touching a water balloon in a bucket of water.

The ice baths in New Mexico did the trick for Joel.  He was still smiling at the end.

Walking in at Kelly (A rarity)

2nd:  Candlestick to Ocean Beach Relay
This one was nuts!

Gabor swam the entire distance and was so strong and comfortable in the water that even after 4.5 hrs of swimming he told Roper that he didn't need to turn on the cars heat for the way back to the Club... because he was "fine".

For the rest of us (A relay of 11 swimmers - swimming in pairs and a trio) the dark o'clock wake up was harder than our 30 min legs.  Great fun.

Gabor stretching before getting in

(Most of) The 11:  Tom, Jim, Nicole, Doug, Kique, Joel, Judith, Lezlee, Bill, me  (Nancy is behind the phone/camera)
Joel, Nicole, Bill after 1st round

Judith (My swim buddy)
Kique, Jim and Gabor outside the Gate (Look how smooth it was!)
3rd:  Golden Gate Swim with Joel and the SERC
Joel wrapped up his crazy swim week (the above swims,a SMAC pool workout, a jetty swim and theTrans Tahoe Relay) with a GG Crossing.

Who wouldn't enjoy a swim under the Golden Gate Bridge?
I have zero pictures of it, so you'll have to trust me that everyone had a great time.

I am so lucky to have found people who love this as much as I do.
I hope the swim adventures keep coming. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Green Bell Swim

For years I have stared out at the buoys off the coast of HMB and dreamed of swimming them. Sometimes the buoys seemed so close,  not many swim in these waters and less want to swim over a mile offshore to a shallow reef in sub-55 degree water.  And conditions (fog, swell and wind tend to define HMB swimming) are additional obstacles.

In 2011, I went so far as to purchase the NOAA nautical chart for the area and measured out the distances to shore:

* about 1.5 miles from the Green Bell to Surfers Beach (our old "clubhouse")
* about 1.5 miles from the Green Bell to the Miramar Restaurant (the new "clubhouse")
* about 1 mile from the Green Gong to Kelly (Francis State Beach)

My thinking was at that time was:
This is like doing an Alcatraz.
The Gong is closer, but the Bell should normally be easier (Kelly can get downright nasty).

The plan was that I'd finish the Maui Channel (2011) then we'd tackle the buoys when I got home.

So much for that plan.

On Tuesday afternoon five of the Crew (Gabor, Joel, Kenny, Randy and me) rode out of the harbor to the Green Bell on "The Good Life" (Bills boat).

The buoy to the right of the boat is the Yellow Buoy.  The buoy on the horizon is the Green Bell.
Conditions were almost perfect:
  • Clear skies 
  • Swell and wind were from the NW giving us some help towards shore
  • Water was that clean green/blue that you don't get near shore
  • Water was +52-53(?).  Not perfect, but it had been 49-50 not too long ago. 

It was a great swim.

Thanks to Bill and the guys for putting this together and letting me still be a part of it.

Now I'm looking forward to the Green Gong

Joel is moving to New Mexico today. 
I wish him good luck on this new adventure. 
I will really miss our impromptu swims together, his infectious smile and laugh, and his positive spin on the worst of conditions, but I refuse to get too sad because I know that he can't stay away for too long - We wont let him!

Goodbye Newport Beach...and your warm waters

I know I have not been blogging very much, but I have been having a lot of fun including a great snowboarding trip with friends in Park City, UT....

and LOTS of ocean swimming.

I have always preferred swimming in the ocean vs pool, but living in HMB it's not always an option.
This past winter I was living near the Balboa Pier in Newport Beach and the lack of a south swell and little rain made it possible to swim almost everyday even when I couldn't find a swim partner.

Conditions changed over the eight months, but the water temperatures only dropped to 53-54 for a few days and for most of the time were +60 making it pleasant to swim the 2 mile loop down to Tower 10 and back after work (For my last week the water was up to 68!)

Thanks to all my SoCal swim buddies:  Jeff, Darwin, Mike, Robin, Isabel, Colby.

Here's a shot of one of the many sunsets I was able to enjoy from my porch

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Hey Coach - There's a whale in my lane

For the last few months I have been living and working in SoCal and taking advantage of the warmer weather and water (we are almost back to 60F ocean temps while HMB is still in the low low 50s) with daily ocean swims.

Although I sometimes go it alone (this section of beach allows me to swim close to shore in 8-10ft of water), my regular swim partners are Jeff and/or Mike.

The swims are typically about 2 miles and uneventful (if dolphins and seals don't rattle you), but the swim yesterday was enough to make me want to share it with the internet.

When Jeff and I got to the shore he spotted a large discolored area about 75 yds out and near the pier.
While we were trying to figure out what is was - a whale surfaced!!!
The whale was less than 25 yds offshore and showed us at least 10ft of his back.

We looked at each other.
And decided to let him/her have a 5 min head start before getting in.

Wish I had pictures, but more grateful that  we were not in the water when he/she was passing by.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Will Swim For Food Update

The "Will Swim For Food" swim around the Santa Cruz Pier happened several weeks ago (Dec 14)

No, I did not drown or get molested by marine mammals.
I wanted to be able to post some photos and needed to get them off my moms phone/dropbox (which took awhile)... then my laptop started to fail.
(Sounds like "The dog ate my homework", but it's true).

Ok, enough excuses

The details:
  • There were +70 swimmers
  • The event raised nearly $73K for food banks (each swimmer selected a local food bank)
  • My team of six raised $3,095 for the HMB "No Strings Attached Breakfast"
  • The water was cool (about 51 degrees), but the winds were light and the sun was out
  • There were plenty of ducks

But my favorite was the one made by Ann that I towed (until we were separated) around the Pier.
Yes, those are nuts (Our team name was "the Frozen Nuts").
Although he didn't make the full swim with me, we were reunited on the beach.
  •  And we all had a blast! 
 The team:

Kique, Nicole, me, Joel, Lezlee, Gabor

 my buddy Chris (who prefers to be "on the water" vs "in the water")
 and my parents (that made the trip, but somehow dodged the camera).

Thanks again to all that donated and/or swam - especially Nick (that set this all up).
I'm already looking forward to Dec 2014.


Hector Picard changing a flat tire on his road bike
...without ANY fingers!!!

He makes it look easy, but I know better.
I hope my riding buddies never make me do this.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Help me swim for food

On Dec 14th I will be joining a bunch of people who think that swimming in 50 degree water is fun.

Wait... I do that every week.

But this will be the annual "Will Swim For Food" event in Santa Cruz that raises money for food banks.

I will be raising money for the "No Strings Attached Breakfast" program that offers a free meal every Saturday to anyone that shows up at the Senior Center in Half Moon Bay.

Here's a link to an article about the program:

I know the holidays are coming up,
but if you can donate $5-10 it will add up quickly
(and it's amazing how far $5 can go in the hands of this program)

Here's a link to the site:

Select:  "Pledge a swimmer"
Find and select me: "John Caughlin"
Click "Donate"
Fill out the form and you're done.
Yep, it's that easy.

If you've read this far - thanks.