15 December 2014

Breaking the Rule

They say you should stay out of the water for 72 hours following a significant rain. I've never been good at following rules. And storms have been coming through so frequently that obeying would mean not surfing for a couple of weeks. I had to take advantage of today's small window in the weather. Although I came down with a cold last night, I wasn't going to let that stop me, not with rain predicted to fall for the next three days. I bundled up in my 4/3 wetsuit for the first time this season, and added a 1mil hood, so as not to add a second sort of cold to the first.
Hennemans
There were 10 surfers out at Hennemans in shoulder-high waves, but only 4 at Sewers. Much as I love that left, a shorter paddle plus lighter crowd made it an easy choice.
Sewers, and Mike's board which was shaped by Rick
There were a few familiar and friendly faces in the lineup, including Rick and Mike, who greeted me with smiles. After a lull, the waves turned on again, and I rode a few fun rights and a left. My limited energy told me to quit early, but the waves were so fun - it was one of those really nice surf days - that I had to turn around and go back for one more. It was a long right that took me close to shore, where I got out near the big outflow pipe from which Sewers takes its name. Sweet stoke to hold onto through the stormy weather to come!
Rick and Mike were already topside at Calumet Park and provide commentary for the video.

11 December 2014

High Surf

The surf was approaching DOH and there was no channel between Hennemans and Sewers, but I found a sweeet slightly overhead right at Tourmaline inside of PB Point.

06 December 2014

Waikoko

Happily, the swell hitting Kauai's north shore did drop a little - just for a day. Seeking lefts, I parked at the west end of Hanalei Bay and paddled out in the channel between two peaks at Waikoko, opting for the nearer one toward Pinetrees. Still, it was a ten minute paddle across sand and dimly-visible reef. With no sets in sight, I thought to cut the journey a bit shorter and crossed to the other side of the peak while still inside of a clutch of SUPers. There wasn't time. Caught inside, I got to my feet briefly on a broken wave before being reminded of the power of Hawaiian swells. Swept off my board, I dove under the rest of the set, barely catching my breath between waves. I started to feel like I was going to hyperventilate, and forced myself to inhale slowly. When the set passed I completed my trip to the left and rested in the channel while studying the peak. It was an inauspicious start, but things could only get better from there.
About ten other surfers were out, a mix of longboarders and shortboarders plus a couple of janitors. A sea turtle bobbed in our midst a dozen feet from me. Several rockstars were launching into many waves, but others were less bold. The current pushed us all toward the channel, so we constantly paddled back to the peak. Although sometimes a wave would swing wide, the usual takeoff spot was tight with wrapping toward the peak; slim chance of catching any from the shoulder. General disorganization added to the challenge of reading the waves.

The current made it hard to stay in position, and I wasn't sure just where position was anyway. When one of the outliers lined up for me, it was quite clearly a right. "I hope I don’t regret this," I thought as I made the rampy head-high+ drop. Whee! Before I rode right too far, recollection of my beating on the way out made me turn left ahead of the whitewater to try to get closer to the channel, but I still took a few waves on the head before reaching calmer waters.
A Zodiac anchored nearby and two groms paddled over, followed by one of their fathers. (Must be nice to skip the long paddles and motor wherever you want to surf! And also to have a parent who teaches you at a young age.) The boys were maybe seven, and they ripped on their tiny shortboards, charging waves that were double-overhead to them.

There were two other women in the lineup. A grim-faced longboarder caught nothing until she paddled inside of me and rode a right in. Well out on the shoulder, a shortboarder mostly bobbed until her rockstar guy noticed and came over to offer advice. Still, she got nada, and he went back to sitting deep and riding waves. I asked her if she surfed there often, and she replied "Yes, we try to come here once a year" from Portland. (That's often?) I remember when that was me, sitting too far on the shoulder to have any chance of catching a wave, yet too scared to get in the way of overhead surf.
At last an elusive left came to me with no one on it, and I stroked in for a fast drop that blew back the brim of my new surf hat. A few turns later the wave lost energy over a deep spot in the reef, and I ended my ride with a woot and a grin.

It was great to surf one last time this year in only a 1mil vest and leggings, but I was getting tired and began to make my way back across to the opposite channel. This was not without another mild thrashing despite my attempt to stay well outside. Still I found one more clean right to take me farther toward my goal: the distant parking lot at the side of the rural road. My shoulders were burning by the time my feet touched sand, but I was still smiling. Stoked!

05 December 2014

Black Pot

As I write, this is the view from our clifftop lanai on Kauai's north shore:
"It's not small" is an understatement. The surf is solidly overhead, has been so since we arrived three days ago, and is not forecast to drop before we leave.

Sigh. As I mentioned,  we've been here three days. And I'm jonesing.

So this morning I surf-checked much of Hanalei Bay. I started at Waikoko on the west end, hoping the lefts would look good as surfing Hennemans has made me comfortable in sizeable reefbreak on my frontside. I had almost worked up the courage when I started to chat with a couple guys who'd also been watching for a while. They said they surfed there a lot and it wasn't one of the break's better days. Just then one of their friends passed by toting his SUP, seawater dripping from his graying locks. "Don't even think about it! he warned, repeating it thrice for emphasis. He told them he'd gotten worked trying to come in, then headed for his truck in the dirt lot on a narrow strip between beach and road.
"Are you going to go out?" I asked one of the guys. "I don't know..." he mused. "It's not exactly calling my name today." It certainly wasn't calling mine. 8'+ surf at an unfamiliar break on an unfamiliar surfboard; it didn't take much to erode my courage.

I headed back around the bay, not bothering to check Pinetrees which had looked a mess yesterday. From Hanalei pier, the rights breaking on the eastern reef looked just as big and mostly disorganized as the western lefts. Unlike Waikoko, I've surfed there before, but my backside is not as strong from lack of practice. San Diego has spoiled me with lefts.
Again dissuaded from digging deep for my inner hellwoman, I noted the waist- to occasionally chest-high waves breaking near the pier at Black Pot Beach. It was the province of the surf schools, but there were a handful of real surfers in the mix. I am not too proud to acknowledge my limits.

In town, I searched the surf shop racks again for a suitable rental board. One shop had a Firewire Spitfire, but it was 6'8" and quad-finned. Across the street at Hanalei Surf Company, I found a Rusty surfboard that seemed as close to Rocket as I might hope to find, although two inches longer, a bit wider and thicker, and lacking a tail pad. The yum-yum yellow accents were only on top, where the Landlord thankfully wouldn't see them
Back at the pier, with time growing short before I had to get back for a yoga class, I scratched for near-shorebreak. A few drop-and-smashes bookended a decent left that sucked sand, turning the face beside me from blue to frothy tan before ending in the shallows. I take stoke where I can find it.

30 November 2014

Before the Wind

After a late night outdoor ice skating (yes, you can do almost anything in southern California), I figured I'd woken too late to surf before the wind came up. Happily, the forecast was wrong about the onset of the southerlies so I wolfed down a piece of toast and was out the door.
The breeze and crowd were light at Hennemens but the chop was quite bouncy. Searching for rideable waves, I chatted with longboarder Kevin, who I first met at Tourmaline last year. In an hour, I scored my minimum of three decent rides, finishing with a nice long left all the way to shore as the wind started to blow in earnest.

Next surf: Kauai, where the forecast is 2-3 times overhead!

16 November 2014

What the Sea Gives Me

Last night I saw What the Sea Gives Me at Green Flash Brewery with a few friends.
What the sea gives me is stoke, and hope, and fear, and joy - and so much more. It's my oxygen, and I need to breathe it often. One interviewee in the film quoted Doc Paskowitz:
I entered the water that day wanting to blow my brains out. I came out a warrior. Surfing can make that change happen inside a man.
...or a woman. I've had no more suicidal thoughts since I started surfing, because if I died, I would never ride another wave. And I always want to ride another wave.
This morning the sea gave me several long rides before breakfast. And it was good.