An Ominous Adventure

Long after the Wall came down, I visited Berlin. I arrived after sunset. The cool air, dark sky, mist, and fog let my imagination run wild. I felt like a secret agent silently moving through the dark streets and alleys hoping to return safely without encountering the Stasi. It felt ominous.

Fast forward to today. Daylight Saving Time began a few hours before I woke. The sun hadn't risen, the air felt cold, and a thick fog engulfed my neighborhood. My mind flashed back to the night before and the modern era cold war spy movie we watched. I had a creepy feeling and uncertainty loomed large. Silently, I drove an electric car to meet the carpool. We gathered at the appointed hour in a dimly lit misty parking lot. We continued to the South End where the Cove Chaser pod would rendezvous for our Sunday swim.

Cove Chasers rendezvous at the South End Beach wearing mission appropriate attire

When we arrived at the waterfront, the early morning light confirmed thick fog covered much of the Bay. With the winter air and water temperature hovering just above 50°F, limited visibility, and unknown wildlife, it was impossible to predict what today's swim would bring.

During the winter, I regularly complete swims in the dark. The moon and city lights comfort me as they illuminate the way. Fog, however, creates an eerie feeling. You can see into the fog but have no idea what hides within.

Cove Chasers heading out on their mission

So we began the swim adventure. Our plan had us swimming toward the fog and the opening into the San Francisco Bay. A few hundred yards into my swim, I turned back but could barely see the land. I put my head down and continued to the first rally point at the opening. Someone left a feed station floating at the opening. My mind returned to the spy movie. Could this be a secret drop location, hidden by the fog? Not likely.

Feed hiding in the fog and floating at the opening

At the opening, the fog appeared thicker and hid all the landmarks including Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. The ebb had just started so we headed straight into the current towards the Creekers at the end of the seawall protecting Fisherman's Wharf. With the limited visibility, we swam along the wall hoping to avoid any pinniped encounters.

We reached the next checkpoint at the Creekers. The fog got thicker and we could barely see the SS Jeremiah OBrien docked just a hundred yards away. Our group of six had reduced to five when one swimmer turned back presumably cold or spooked by the conditions.

Secret Agent Gabrielle treads just a hundred yards in front of the SS Jeremiah O'Brien

After taking a few recon photos, we returned via the outside of the seawall. We stopped once suddenly. An unexpected family of five or six harbor seals appeared. In the excitement, we couldn't tell if they popped in from the fog or surfaced from below. Strength in numbers - we regrouped and headed toward the next rally point at the beach, podding tightly as we swam.

My confidence returned as we passed back through the opening and by the Jacuzzi. The fog began to lift, slightly improving visibility to the final rally point - the beach. Our mission just about complete, we knew this swim would have a happy ending.

With all swimmers accounted for, we entered the safe house, aka The South End Rowing Club and headed for debriefing sessions in our gender-specific saunas. Nothing tops the sauna for recovering and preparing for the next mission.


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