Annual swim across Tomales Bay

Every September, a week after Labor Day, Sunday at nine: meet at Shell Beach #2 and swim with a coupld dozen other hardy souls.

I’d happily send a picture (but you have to email me at to get the pic because turdpress is concerned about innocent viewers under age.)

Somehow I’m not sure I’m grasping the how-to’s of this new version of Urdpress…but here goes. My 2022 calendar can be found here:

words escape me, very unusual

OK< so I’m still struggling with this new version of WP. But I want to share my life’s highs and sometimes lows.

SO I’d heard about the swim for at least 2 decades–turns out it’s gone on for 47 years, but more underground now.
I arrived at the Shell Beach #2 about half an hour early, and no one was there…it was beautiful out on the glassy water, no ripples, and the fog was lifting, sun coming through. Small wonder Inverness California is debatably shangri-la of the Marin do-it-yourself set. As long as you don’t mind the crazy weekend traffic.

There are famous folk living here, my fave being Robert Reich, the scholar, economist, and former Clinton cabinet member. I never see him, which is a shame because I carry a pre-signed wombat boastcard, thanking him for his lifetime’s work showing how messed up our non-democracy is, and being witty, compassionate and readable while doing it. You can find his columns in NYT now & then.

But no, he wasn’t on the beach that day. No one was! So I took off the too-tight one piece swimsuit and waded in, figuring, ‘Why waste a fifty mile (round) trip?

About half an hour later as I stroked back toward the beach, there were at least three dozen folks and half a dozen kayaks, boats and paddleboard things milling about. I recognized my friend Allen Biggs, who’s a full head taller than anyone there.


I wave him over to me (I’m clamped down in a cowardly crouch, not sure I dare stand up yet)
“What happened, there was no one here at the appointed time!” I half snarled, half whimpered.

“Oh, it’s pretty informal, you know…nine, nine thirtyish….”
“But it’s happening, right?”

I stood up. A few jaws dropped. Was it because I didn’t have my usual plastic pearl necklace, without which I’m not fully dressed?

The swim-crowd, in every imaginable sort of gear (wet-suit, swim bladder of neon pink , regular swim trunks, etc) and only one sporting the original birthday suit, ambled into the water, and with an about-face, I was off. Following all the splashes, since my goggles aren’t prescription lensed . It was about a half hour out to the bluffs across the smooth water. The equinoctal sun lay pretty low in the south. Underwater, there were beds of loosely wafting seaweed ( which doesn’t scare me) , and occasional, beauitiful pearlescent jelly fish ranging from half dollar size to tea-saucer, the latter having a distinctly rubbery dome, where the smaller ones are so ethereal you can’t tell you’re pushing past them. But none (obviously) poisonous. They have a nice four-part design up on the center of their ‘roof’ which reminds me a lot of the pattern on pineapple guavas, aka feijoa, when cross-cut.
After perhaps an hour’s time in the water, I was seeing lots of Rose Window kaleidoscopic images on the back of my eyelids. “This must be the endorphins kicking in a few hallucination bonuses” I thought pleasantly.

According to the friends I spoke with after wading out and staggering a little, my lips had turned blue.

But I felt totally in the pink of condition, considering my age an’ stuff…


~ by jacquiephelan on September 13, 2021.

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