Outdoors, action, adventure

Category: Swimming

San Clemente Ocean Festival this weekend

Katie O'Keefe climbs the portable rock wall at a San Clemente Ocean Festival.

Those looking to beat the heat this weekend might want to check out the 33rd annual San Clemente Ocean Festival, taking place Saturday and Sunday adjacent to the pier.

There will be a myriad of things to see and do, including fishing clinics and derbies, surfing and body-boarding contests, a woody car show and a pancake breakfast each morning griddled by San Clemente city lifeguards.

The main event will be the California Waterman and Waterwoman Championships, with competition taking place each day in sports such as distance and stand-up paddle-boarding, ocean kayak racing and biathlon.

There will also be plenty of activities for kids. A special pavilion will offer carnival games, face painting, ocean crafts and relay races. The Discovery Science Center and the Ocean Institute will also have booths offering various educational activities and projects.

The finale event will be the Great Rubber Duck Race at 4 p.m. Sunday. Festival attendees can purchase and decorate rubber ducks, which will be turned loose near the pier, with prizes awarded for ducks that reach the shore first.

Parking near the pier is limited, so complimentary parking and round-trip shuttle service will be available at San Clemente high school, located at 700 Avenida Pico.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Katie O'Keefe climbs the portable rock wall at a San Clemente Ocean Festival. Credit: Geraldine Wilkins / Los Angeles Times

Manny Ramirez rejects $25-million contract offer---who cares?

Ramirez2 News item: Manny Ramirez rejects the Dodgers' $25-million one-year proposal.

Reaction: How do you think this kind of news feels to all those fans -- and I mean virtually all of those fans -- who have lost their jobs or are worried about losing their jobs?

Major league baseball ought to take these dealings out of the public eye or people ought to find something more worthwhile to do with their free time, such as getting outdoors and enjoying cheaper and healthier pastimes like hiking, climbing, fishing, surfing, snowboarding, skiing or bird-watching.

I for one am finding it increasingly difficult to support big-time athletes who earn obscene salaries -- and whine through their agents when they aren't quite obscene enough -- while a growing number of ordinary hard-working Americans are jobless or out on the street.

Sure, baseball is entertainment and top entertainers demand millions. But you don't see -- or at least I don't see -- actors or their agents squabbling over such grossly high contracts in public.

Baseball is notorious for this, and the Manny money headlines are sickening to me during a gloomy economic period during which teachers, nurses, salesmen, truck drivers and people in just about every regular line of work are deeply concerned about how they're going to get by.

I think I'll skip baseball this year and support state parks and their incredible hiking trails instead. Spring training will be spent on my surfboard or alongside a trout stream. Summer weekends will be enjoyed on the beach, not at the ballpark, and the fall classic might be fighting a giant tuna at one of the outer banks.

Now that will be something to cheer about.

--Pete Thomas

Shark attacks: 2008 figures could indicate troubling trend for West Coast

A sign is posted at Fletcher Cove Park in Solana Beach a day after David Martin was fatally attacked.

Here's something to ponder as you plan your next surfing trip: There were five unprovoked shark attacks along the West Coast, slightly more than double the number for 2007. All involved great white sharks, but only one attack -- that on swimmer David Martin off Solana Beach in April -- was fatal.

The others involved surfers (two) and kayakers (two) and occurred off Huntington Beach, Santa Catalina Island, Santa Barbara and Tomales Bay in Northern California. This is according to the Shark Research Committee, which keeps track of attacks occurring along the West Coast.

Martin reportedly became the third confirmed fatal shark-attack victim during the 21st century. The 2008 figures bring to 42 the total number of authenticated shark attacks along the West Coast during the first eight years of the century -- more than five times the 20th century annual average.

It might be simply because more people venturing into the ocean. It could also be that more white sharks are milling off Southern California, perhaps taking advantage of an exploding population of California sea lions. Or it could be that both factors are in play.

Not included were attacks occurring elsewhere in the United States or internationally, notably three bull shark attacks -- two of them fatal -- on surfers off Zihuatanejo, Mexico, last spring.

I was present during that bizarre, Jaws-like scare. Hopefully, there will be no repeat in 2009. Here's also hoping that fewer white sharks off the West Coast will mistake people for prey.

--Pete Thomas

A sign cautions beachgoers just south of Zihuatanejo, Mexico, after three shark attacks, two of them fatal.

Photo (top): A sign is posted at Fletcher Cove Park in Solana Beach a day after David Martin was fatally attacked. Credit: Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times. Photo (bottom): A sign cautions beachgoers just south of Zihuatanejo, Mexico, after three shark attacks, two of them fatal. Credit: Pete Thomas / Los Angeles Times

A Christmas wish list, checked twice


A Christmas wish, brief version, minus materialistic desires:

-- May this latest storm further blanket our mountains, for the benefit of skiers, snowboarders and resort operators. More important, may it saturate a landscape that remains so parched that creeks remain dry and waterfalls without cascades. We need lots  of precipitation in 2008-09.

-- May the economy improve sooner rather than later. This would be our Christmas miracle. Being forced from a home onto the street is the worst possible kind of outdoors experience, and it should not be happening.

-- May children receive more gifts that introduce them to our spectacular natural resources--surfboards, skis, snowboards, hiking boots, binoculars, tents, fishing poles, etc.--and fewer computerized gadgets that contribute to obesity and create a disconnect between kids and their parents.

-- May more parents get out of the house with their children, to a lake shore, a state park, aboard a whale-watch boat or wherever there is sky and a vast surrounding. Most outdoor activities are inexpensive. Generate fond memories. Instill an appreciation for open spaces and critters that inhabit them. You won't regret it.

-- May Japan and other whaling nations stop the slaughter. Most if not all species of whales were on the brink of extinction at one point in our recent history. Haven't they been through enough?

-- May people lose the taste for shark fin soup. Unlike whales, sharks are being driven methodically to extinction because of the demand for this so-called delicacy and the brutal practice of "finning" live sharks. This is perilous for sharks and the environment. Is a bowl of soup worth all this?

-- May more people go green. May we see fewer Hummers and Suburbans and more hybrids. May the warming trend reverse (another miracle, please) and may the polar bears somehow survive the shrinking of their icy realm. People are trying, and that's a positive first step.

-- May at least some of your Chritmas wishes come true. Happy holidays, everyone. May better times prevail in 2009!

-- Pete Thomas

Photo credit: Greg Zook, Big Bear Lake Resort Assn.

Jana Strain claims top honor as a blossoming freediver


Santa Monica's Jana Strain (pictured) was recently named the best new female freediver of 2008 by the International Center for Apnea Recognition and Education (ICARE). It's the highest honor someone new to the sport of breath-hold diving can achieve.

She began freediving only six months ago after taking a class. She trained only two months before breaking the North American record with a swim 561 feet in "dynamic apnea" with fins. 

Her swift progress caught the attention of the international freediving community.

"I was honored to even be nominated," she said in a news release issued along with the photograph. "To actually win is astonishing. I am very thankful for this honor and want to thank all for the support I have received since starting on this journey."

Dynamic apnea is an underwater swim for distance on a single breath using fins. The previous record was 492 feet.

The International Assn. for the Development of Freediving is the global sanctioning body for freediving, individual and team competition, and freediving world-record attempts.

-- Pete Thomas

Shannen Doherty high and dry after shark scare

Shannen Doherty

Outposts is not big on the gossip scene but we hear, through a reliable source, that actress Shannen Doherty is deathly afraid of the ocean after a fright-filled run-in with sharks.

This is a shame because Doherty, who starred in "Charmed" and "Beverly Hills, 90210," still owns a home in Malibu and several surfboards.

Her fear stems from a cage-diving trip two years ago off Hawaii. Sharks began circling the submerged cage and Doherty’s heart leaped about.

She recalled the incident in a recent interview with Details magazine.

"I couldn’t breathe, I started having an anxiety attack, I couldn’t stay out of their reach," she said. "They were slamming into the cage — they looked so frickin’ mean! My leg slipped a little through the bars, and a shark swam up against me and rubbed off a layer of my skin."

Responded Details: "Doherty, who’s reprising the role of Brenda on the CW’s revival of `90210,' could look at her shark-cage experience as an apt metaphor for her twenties — not-so-tender years marked by catfights, nude photo spreads, a turn leading the Pledge of Allegiance at the 1992 Republican National Convention, and a slew of ill-chosen male companions.”

Doherty concluded: "Well, I’ll go to the beach and I’ll wade up to my knees. But I’m not going to start swimming again."

-- Pete Thomas

Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images

Florida: Summer of the Shark II

New Smyrna Beach

There's a lot not to like about Florida -- its flatness, the heat and humidity, hurricanes.

But for surfers, a primary complaint has to do with all the sharks. Especially for surfers at New Smyrna Beach within Volusia County, which in 2001 endured a record 22 attacks during a hysteric period dubbed the "summer of the shark."

That record now stands at 23, and in fairness, many of the so-called attacks were more like little nips. But the number must nonetheless be disconcerting to surfers and county officials.

The latest victim was a 44-year-old Jupiter man who was grabbed briefly on Sunday.

"It was extremely minor and he went back out surfing," Scott Petersohn of the Volusia County Beach Patrol told the Daytona Beach News Journal.

"There were a lot of surfers out, more than usual, and good waves. It was bound to happen with that many people on the water."

Bound to happen. You just don't hear such talk in Southern California, or even in Northern California, where the big great whites hang out. Of course, when there is an attack off the West Coast, it's generally serious.

Back to Florida, the shark-news website Fear Beneath asks a valid question: "Where's CNN? Where's Time magazine?"

A Fear Beneath blogger states, "In 2001, our record 22 shark bites gained us a prominent place in a Time cover story with the scary headline, 'Summer of the Shark.'

"Foreign news crews arrived in New Smyrna Beach and shoved microphones in front of surfers. From the kind of coverage we got, viewers got the impression that gangs of sharks were cruising the streets in cars looking for victims.

"This year? Zip."

Outpost's response: Must be the election.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: A sign warns of danger to surfers and swimmers in the north area of New Smyrna Beach, Fla., in 2001, when there were a record 22 shark attacks or bites in Volusia County. That record was broken Sunday. Credit: Associated Press

Great white shark sighting reported off Malibu

Great white shark

There I was surfing and sorting through websites, sipping a soft drink, when I stumbled upon a rather unsettling item on the Shark Research Committee site run by the renowned Ralph S. Collier.

The latest entry, under the Pacific Coast Shark News 2008 heading, was a brief account involving a woman identified as Gina S., and her husband, who while strolling along the Malibu coast late Sunday afternoon witnessed an attack by what they claim was a large shark on a sea lion.

It was about 5 p.m., sunny and breezy, somewhere between Paradise Cove and Pepperdine University. They noticed three sea lions 30 to 40 yards offshore, and a small pod of dolphins nearby.

And there was a lone sea lion 30 yards south of the others. (See where this is going?)

The rest, as described by Gina:

"While looking at the lone sea lion suddenly the huge head of a great white shark surfaced next to the seal and took a large bite out of the animal. The shark was dark gray and at least 10-12 feet in length with a dorsal fin 12-16 inches high.

"The attack occurred just beyond the forming waves and lasted only a minute or less. Following the initial bite, there was a lot of splashing and then all went quiet. Sea gulls began diving on the attack site as if they were feeding. The shark submerged and neither the shark nor the bitten sea lion were observed again."

Collier urged those considering swimming or surfing in the area to exercise caution. That's always good advice. White sharks do utilize Southland coastal waters but generally leave the area, most scientists believe, when they reach the size where they start feeding on seals and sea lions instead of fish.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Adult great white shark photographed at Guadalupe Island, 160 miles west of Baja California, last October. Credit: Al Seib/Los Angeles Times

Safe places to swim: From saltwater to pool water

Thanks to Heal the Bay's weekly report cards, we all know where to go to see if our local beaches are safe for swimming. But where do we go to check the status of local pools?


Thanks to an article in today's Times by Rong-Gong Lin II and Doug Smith, you no longer have to wonder. Go to the article here and scroll down to the box marked "pool inspection violations." Then, just enter the ZIP code and the kind of pool you want to search (or select "all" for a complete search) and The Times will search a database of records on all the public pools in your area, including those in apartments and condos.

If you want to check a particular address, the article includes an advanced search function, as well as a direct link to the L.A. County Dept. of Public Health, the group that conducts the inspections and issues the reports.

Continue reading »

Summer Solstice beach roundup ... minus Belmont Pier area

Redondo2 This weekend marks the traditional beginning of summer, and Southern California is in the middle of a heat wave. What to do to beat the heat? Go to the beach, of course.

By now, you probably already know that a 1.75-mile stretch of Long Beach beachfront has been closed as a precautionary measure thanks to a sewage spill that occurred in Glendale and polluted the L.A. River. But aside from that strip (between Belmont Pier and 3rd Place), Los Angeles County's beaches have never looked better.

Take a look at this north-to-south roundup of L.A.'s major beaches and take your pick.

—Liam Gowing

Photo of visitors to Redondo State Beach by Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times


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About the Bloggers
Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.