Patti Bauernfeind - Monterey Bay
Twin Lakes Beach, Santa Cruz to San Carlos Beach, Monterey
13 hours, 0 minutes on August 26, 2014
Observed and documented by Michelle Macy
- Name: Patti Bauernfeind
- Age: 47
- Resides in: Dublin, California
- Pilots: Dave Todd, Randy Harris
- Vessel: Silver Prince (Monterey, Calif.)
- Paddlers: Erin Stone, Earle Conklin, Larry Baeder, Michael Heffernan
- Crew: Kim Rutherford, Leann Harvey, Joseph Locke
- Observer: Michelle Macy
Solo crossing of Monterey Bay (California) from Santa Cruz to Monterey.
- Start: Twin Lakes State Beach, Santa Cruz (36.961968 N, -122.000672 W).
- Finish: San Carlos Beach, Monterey (36.609681 N, -121.895039 W).
- Straight-Line Distance: 25.06 statute miles (40.33 km).
Second known unassisted solo Monterey Bay crossing, after Cindy Cleveland in 1980.
LongSwimsDB: Monterey Bay swims.
Rules & Conduct
- Swim Category: Unassisted marathon swim
- Rules: Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association
- Feeds: Alternating among Hammer Perpetuem, Nuun + amino acid, and solid rice protein mix. Occasional mouthwash rinse.
- Date: August 26, 2014
- Start: 03:53:30 local time (Pacific Daylight).
- Finish: 16:53:30
- Swim Duration: 13 hours, 0 minutes.
Recorded on Garmin Forerunner worn by kayaker Erin Stone.
by Michelle Macy
Summary of Weather Observations
- Wind: Beaufort Force 1 (early) to Force 3 (afternoon)
- Water Temperature: 62F at start to 65F at finish.
- Air Temperature: 60F at start to 70F at finish.
- Swells: From flat to 2-4 feet.
- Skies: Full sun.
Water Temp - NOAA buoy 46240 (Cabrillo Point)
by Patti Bauernfeind
A Special Guide For The Start
The gift of an escort to the start of this swim was incredible. It was very practical to ave someone guide me in the dark from the dock to the beach to start the journey cross the bay. But I got more than just an escort. I was helped by a kind spirit and entle soul who exuded a calm confidence that I was not crazy for walking through reaking waves at 3:00 am and diving into cold water in the dark. Its hard to magine that there are people in our lives who will step out of their comfortable outines and their warm beds to help with a crazy adventure. I wouldn’t dare to ask nyone to get up at 2:00 am to help me walk to the beach, take my clothes and watch ver me as I ploughed through the waves to start a night swim. But in the world of pen water swimming or just any athletic event where people take on goals bigger han themselves, there are amazing souls who will do just that. Thankfully Joel ound a joyfully willing person to help.
Steve Hobert calmly and carefully walked me to the breaking waves at the south ide of Seabright beach. He counted the waves and quickly gaged the pattern. I was oo focused on staying warm and listening to the talk on the hand‐held radio than to ount the waves. I was ready to go and very keen to get started. I wanted to get in nd off the water before the wind picked up on Monterey Bay like last time. Steve ook my coat and shoes, turned on my blinky and gently sent me off. I had no idea at he time that he would be at the end as well.
Swimming in the dark
The stars were bright and in beautiful formation. I saw the big dipper but that was bout all I saw when I took a breath ‐ ‐ left, stars, stroke stroke stroke, right ,stars, troke stroke stroke. I was focused on moving forward and covering the miles. The ater was velvety and not quite black. It was a deep green black. I went into a lissful zone almost like sleeping when I was hit by something and then again in uick fashion. I chuckled when I realize that it was flying fish. Poor things were unning into me and were probably a bit stunned. I was hopeful that they weren’t eing chased by something big.
Erin was kayaking to my right and let me know that my pace was a bit fast so I acked off a bit. Earle hovered to the left while Joel stayed outside of our protective ormation ‐ ‐ me between the two kayaks. All three are delicately illuminated by low sticks, just enough to see without attracting unwanted attention. I have been sked several times if the boat puts a beam of light on me when swimming at night.
The idea makes total sense to ensure that the boat is able to watch over me at night. But that is exactly what squid fisherman do when wanting to hook a Humbolt squid. They shine a big bright light on the surface to catch the attention of the deep weller. That’s fine for calamari but not ideal for a swimmer. Im afraid of the Humbolt squid so we rely on a few florescent glow sticks to keep us together (plus adios). That is much better than having a giant tentacle thrust itself at the source of bright light thinking its food, grabbing me and racing to the bottom of the bay in econds. Humbolt squids are amazing creatures but I’d rather not see one eye to ye.
The water was so smooth and peaceful that I found myself falling in and out of a tate of sleep. My arms and hips moved in a synchronized way and my mind nhooked and drifted into a place of quiet and ease. I trained for this but I was urprised how easy it was to turn off my thinking brain on this swim. The stars and oft lights on shore created a soothing ambiance. I felt safe between Erin and Earle nd knew that Joel was also hovering and watching me. After a while, my sleepy tate was interrupted by small knocks from finger‐sized jellies. These were jellyfish hat I had not seen before. In a matter of minutes, I was in a huge swarm of these ellies. Im was immediately concerned thinking “Do they sting?” “Will I have a eaction to their toxin if they do?” “How many of them are there? Where is the edge o the swarm?” I reacted with some alarm by stopping and cutting right to get out f the swarm. Its then that I realized that I wasn’t getting stung and that I would ave to swim through them for a while. I was coated in a mixture of Safe Sea, Desitin and Lanolin which was a type of repellent shield. I was literally white from ead to toe.
I did relax a bit but it was still unnerving since I didn’t want to ingest any of them. If hey do have a toxin (which I couldn’t gage), swallowing one could end the swim. Its ike ingesting a yellow jacket while you are riding your bike which could sting you as t goes down your throat and your body would have to cope with the venom in your tomach. Maybe our stomach acid would neutralize it or maybe not. Who knows ow a body would react to that while working hard. A lot of open water swimmers re unenthusiastic pioneers when it comes to jellies. I dug into my mental tool bag to get back to swimming with ease again. It was a aste of energy to keep dwelling on my jelly friends. Even worse, it was opening he door for other unwelcomed thoughts to enter my head like my cold hands and eet. I didn’t want a party of these unwelcomed guests so I pulled out the blanket ool. I envisioned a warm blanket of energy surrounding me like a cocoon. I hought of lots of sources of the warm energy; a cord from the kayakers and Joel, nergy from the creatures in the water and bay itself. In the darkness this was ugely comforting. I also asked for a ‘spa treatment’ in which Joel pored warm water n my hands to reset them. The next great source of comfort was the sunrise. It tarted at 5:45 and I sang ‘Here Comes the Sun’ in my head. For a swimmer, sunrise is magical. You’ve made it through the night of literal darkness and you’ve vercome the coldest part of the swim. Even with the overcast clouds, the sunrise as beautiful. I jokingly yelled at Michael, who was kayaking on my left, that he was locking my view. He graciously slowed down so I could watch the sunrise when I reathed to my left.
How to stay warm
The water in Monterey Bay was warmer this year but until I had the strong sun on y back, I still felt the cold surrounding my body. I never felt “cold‐cold” but I did eed to lean some other tools to purge the thoughts from my head. Since there was o much time to think on this swim, my imagination became an important ally for ocusing my thoughts. To feel warm, I imagined an array of solar panels on my back hat rotated towards the east to collect the suns rays no matter how weak they were (or behind clouds). The panels ‘converted’ the rays into energy and heat to move e forward. I valued the thought of energy more than heat but it was comforting to hink of both. I naturally generated heat through the constant swimming but I took uick feeds to make sure that I kept the warm blood circulating to my muscles. I was rateful that I was wearing my personal ‘puffy jacket’. I designed my ‘puffy jacket’ y adding some body fat. Like so many cold water swimmers, adding brown fat eans spending a lot of time in cold water and we eat a bit more to put on white fat. I loved my puffy jacket since it was helping me get across the bay but I was looking orward to “hanging it up” during the off‐season.
From the start of the swim, I formed a pod with the kayakers. I relied on them for ore than just navigation. Their calm presence was huge. Im was amazed at how asy they made it look while navigating in the dark. And on a practical note, they onitored my stroke count to make sure that I was not going too fast since I was evved up on adrenaline. I reflected a lot on the fact that one of the many amazing spects of open water swimming is the community. I remember at first that I felt hat open water swimming was a bit isolating since I spent a lot of time in the water ut it quickly turned into a very social sport that went beyond swimmers. Kayakers ave been profoundly important on all of my swims. They watch over me with umor and grace even in the face of rough conditions and after paddling for hours.
Crew and Other Support
One of the things that I did regularly throughout this swim was think of the things hat I was grateful for. The crew was at the top of the list. Finding crew members as harder than other swims since it took place on a weekday. Asking friends to make time off from work wasn’t easy. I was so grateful for the offers to help and those hat were able to find a way to be on the boat or support the swim on land.
I also thought about how equally grateful I was for the support and encouragement o do the swim one more time. No one ever asked me why I was going to do the wim again after three disappointing attempts. It never crossed my mind to stop. Being surrounded by so many positive and nurturing people was a gift unto itself.
While I swam stroke after stroke making my way to the other side of the bay, my rew was sharing the swim and gathering a chorus of cheers and well wishes. LeeAnn helped with communications and when she received messages via Facebook he put them on the whiteboard she named Fishbook. An old school communication ool with a twist. I read Fishbook during a feeding. With my feeds every 20 inutes, I got regular jokes, drawings, and encouragement across the bay.
The journey to complete the Monterey Bay swim involved a lot of problem solving. Solving the jelly issue, wind issue, figuring out how to get hot or warm food to me hile keeping away for the diesel boat, finding the best way to transfer kayakers, nd keeping the boat on a straight line while going really slow and getting pushed y wind and swells were just a few of the challenges. Each one of the challenges equired some trial and error to solve. No one ever gave up or suggested that the wim just wasn’t doable. That’s a testament to the broad team who brainstormed n the issues and figured out ways to address them.
Of all the hurdles, jellies were the biggest for me. I love these beautiful creatures but y system doesn’t like their toxin. Being allergic to them made me very anxious hen I swam into the swarm. Restricting my breathing would be bad enough but he slowing of warm blood being circulated because the toxin impacting my muscles ould not be good. Hypothermia would set in, and end the swim. I will never orget the look of concern on everyone’s face when I was pulled the 2nd swim. I had ifficulty breathing and it was alarming. Being stopped on the 1st two attempts was rustrating and I didn’t want that to happen again. Nor did I want my crew to suffer hrough another anaphylaxis reaction. Im grateful that I learned on the Night Train elay swim down the California coast that jellies rise between 1 and 2 am so we new that we had to start later in the early morning hours. The trade off was that I ould then be swimming when the wind picked up in the afternoon. I also learned bout a new jelly repellent on the market that was designed for the Pacific Nettle.
Overcoming Dark Times With Gratitude
All marathon swimmers find themselves struggling with negative thoughts during heir swim. We all know that a crossing is both mentally and physically tough. But its still always a bit surprising when the unwanted negative thoughts and notions merge. I always pack a mental toolkit along with my swim ‘kit’ but Im always ptimistic that I won’t have to dig deep into the mental one. For me its usually etween 60 – 75% of the distance when the negative thoughts appear. Its as if my rain sets an alarm clock based upon the estimated length of the swim. It’s a funny otion but its pretty consistent. It was no different for this swim. This time the egative thoughts came out as a form of irritation. Seeing shore the entire time of a wim was a blessing and a curse. It never seemed to get closer until I could literally ee cars. So I saw the same thing for hours and hours.
The unhelpful alarm went off at mid‐day (65% of the distance) and the negative houghts sprang up. I used metta meditations on and off during the swim (May I Be Safe, May I Be Healthy). But when things went dark, I focused solely on things that I as thankful for; my crew, my family, my friends, my dog Bear, the opportunity wim in gorgeous water, to experience the bay at that moment, every birthday gift I ave ever received and anything that popped into my head. I found myself also hinking of how thankful I was for all the technology that makes a swim possible. It as incredible how many things I was connected to as a swimmer that enable me to et across the bay. Beyond the layers of technology on the boat including the avigation and the engine, I thought about the materials used to make the warm tuff my crew was wearing, the research that made the jelly repellent a reality, what ent into my goggles and suit and my mind wandered from there. This isn’t ecessarily something that I think about on land but during this swim, it was rofound for squeezing out the negative thoughts and getting back to a state of ase.
Swim like it’s a 10K
The last 1/3 of the swim was difficult not because of having already swum for 8 ours but because of the changing conditions. A swell was pushing me and the ayakers to the east causing us to swim at an angle towards the beach. It was a ashing machine under the water due to the wind pushing the waves in a different direction and the standard swell out of the west. It was a bit dynamic to say the east. Once I pushed the negative thoughts and feelings of irritation out of my head, I had the clarity to know that finishing the swim was entirely up to me and that veryone was following my pace. I was tired of seeing an unchanged horizon so I ecided at that moment to ‘swim like it’s a 10K’. That is to say, pick it up and swim t a strong pace until I could see cars. I doubt that I matched my time of a 10K event ut it felt good and gave me a structured way to tackle the remaining distance. The wim had 4 phases; the night swim with the cold and jellies, morning swim with alm waters (and jellies), the washing machine swim with the taunting shoreline (and jellies) and the final 1,000 meters of crying and joy knowing that I would get to he beach.
I was so happy to see my friends on shore. It was such an emotional relief to walk ut of the water and to turn around and look back. The Santa Cruz side of the bay as barely visible. I was definitely a bit overwhelmed. But, still present enough to sk for a sandwich. I enjoyed a delicious BBQ sandwich and beer followed by a hot hower. Joel helped with an oversized van so my crew and I got to ride back to Santa Cruz happily reflecting on what we had just accomplished over the last 13 hours.
- Santa Cruz Sentinel: Patti Bauernfeind, 47, becomes second to swim across Monterey Bay