Alcatraz #19

It was Wednesday, the 4th day of the week. Similar to last week, Wednesday followed Tuesday.

Knowing I would wake early Wednesday morning, I set my alarm. Why do I even bother? I woke 30 minutes prior to the alarm.  Carefully, I prepared to leave for the Alcatraz swim. I warmed my oatmeal, filled a thermos with hot water, and brewed my coffee - 12 Oz Keurig Lavazza medium blend.

Doing everything in my control to ensure we would have a pilot for the Alcatraz swim, I agreed to pick up the helmsman at his apartment and drive him to the club. I arrived at the appointed hour. He came down the stairs and got in my rental car.

When we arrived at the club, we anticipated drama. In every community, there's always something. This week was no different. Multiple factors came into play: was it safe to swim, would the fog lift, would vessel traffic interfere with our crossing? Once we settled down, we boarded the boat and took off for Pier 27.

It was a strong ebb, and we hoped to ride the currents to the yellow sign on Alcatraz's south-eastern shore. We took a conservative line by sighting on Point Blunt, just to the east of Angel Island. While the swim was awesome, it was highly uneventful. Our lead swimmer sighted on Point Blunt, and I sighted on her. She swam just a few strokes ahead on my left side. We paused several times during the crossing for everyone to regroup.  After 31 minutes, I reached the island with the lead swimmer to my left and the senior members of the pod few strokes behind. One swimmer seemed closer to Emeryville. We were fortunate to have a kayaker ensuring safety and coverage.

When the boat picked us up, we carefully extracted ourselves from the Bay, ensuring we kept as much water out of the boat as possible. One by one, we climbed aboard the boat, struggling to hoist ourselves over the Zodiac's large pontoon. Cautiously, we donned our dry parkas for the return journey back to Aquatic Park.

I'm not quite sure how this happened, but as we made our way across the Bay, the skies darkened, nostrils flared, words were spoken, and we hit a wave. It was a terrible confluence of events. We regrouped. More words were exchanged, and we took on another wave. The process repeated the entire ride back to the dock. Before we knew it, our parkas were soaked. Nothing more could be done. While we felt elated after a nice swim, we also felt weighted down by water saturated parkas.

We carefully made our way to the showers and sauna in hopes of drying out both our waterlogged bodies and our gear. This should have been an insignificant task. It wasn't. It was an especially busy morning with far too many people in the sauna. I had a choice - warm myself in the sauna or sacrifice my seat on the bench to dry my parka.  I chose to dry my parka and shiver myself back to thermal equilibrium with a hot shower.

I'm hoping for a little less drama next week.

Navigation Tip: When the sign lines up with the smoke stack, head straight in.    Photo by Sarah


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