The Cap Conflict

Seeking new adventures, the pod headed to Santa Cruz. We joined the Birdwatchers and Westend Wharf & Wine pods. Perhaps both those pods are one and the same. Perhaps not. It will remain a mystery to be unraveled in another blog post...

Most Excellent Caps!
Even though I felt excited to swim in Santa Cruz, I had to resolve an inner conflict: which cap to wear? Making the right cap selection has distracted me for the past few days. I fully attribute last night's poor sleep to cap selection anxiety. While the South End Cap remains the thickest and the foundation for my open water adventures, the Cove Chaser cap represents my swim and carpool therapy support group. However, the Wine & Wharf pod had gifted me their wonderful cap after only swimming with them once. Clearly, there could be no wrong choice. Ultimately, my guiding principle of the and NOT the or made the decision simple. I would wear all the caps and honor the local hosts with their cap as the outermost barrier to the ocean water. Without a doubt, the local marine life would let the familiar Wharf & Wine pod swim in peace.

Excitement & trepidation build as the carpool approaches Santa Cruz

Several pod members experienced the carpool for the first time. With two hours together, we had carpool therapy like never before. Carpool rules and protocol limit any further comments.

We gathered near the Santa Cruz Wharf, anticipating waters warmer than the 51F in the San Francisco Bay. Sure enough, Monterey Bay welcomed us with 54F. Do three degrees matter? YES! Getting in 51-degree water hurts my face and takes my breath away. However, the balmy 54-degree water makes it easy to just walk in right past the Point of No Return and start swimming.

My first Santa Cruz swim last October went around the wharf. Today was going to be different. As we met up with the other pods, a hushed discussion began about today's route. Clearly, they were being sensitive to our feelings did not want to overwhelm us with a gnarly swim.

First, they pointed out toward the open ocean. Seeing their outstretched arms, my stomach turned. Could they be planning an adventure towards Hawaii? I hoped not. Then they spoke about Mile Buoy. My ears perked up. Where was this mile buoy? What was so special about it? Why was it being discussed in whispers? Summoning all my courage, I asked about it. The answer wasn't obvious. Mile Buoy sat a mile past the wharf, making the potential swim a 3 miler. Fear returned like never before. Suddenly, the volume of their voices increased. The route had been decided. We were told to sight on Mile Buoy - not swim to mile Buoy. We would swim until the lighthouses to the east and west would be visible.

Mile Buoy - off in the distance

We headed down to the beach and entered the water in the usual way. With my Whine & Wharf cap firmly mounted as my outer cap, I felt confident and demonstrated solidarity with our hosts. After making our way through the breaking waves on the beach, we swam. On a calm day like today, big water rolls and truly feels like the motion in the ocean. Bay water has more chop and roughness. We swam until the lighthouses were visible on both the east and the west flanks. Our return to the beach featured absolutely nothing eventful other than the amazing waters of the Pacific Ocean.

Totally worth the drive!

South Enders telling tales of their epic adventures

Cathy modeling the Birdwatcher Cap with me in the foreground


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