03 October 2015

Bubbles and Beginnings

This morning I surfed again with my new dawn patrol crew, Tammy and Kristen, at a spot north of the pier they call PB Toilets.
It was more of the same windswell we've had for a while, with a few fun waves to be found. At the top of the bluff, a dude was making enormous bubbles during our entire session.
Afterwards, the surfistas introduced me to easily-overlooked Isabel's Cantina, where we ate second breakfast and drank a pitcher of yummy tangerine-pomegranite mimosas.

10 September 2015

September Summer

The strip thermometer on the bottom of my surfboard read 78ยบ in the water this morning! Unfortunately the air was about the same temperature with high humidity, much more sweltering than we're used to in San Diego. After I'd ridden my bike for 20 minutes to Hennemans, up and down a couple of hills, I was overheating in my neoprene-free rashguard and leggings. It felt very good to plunge into the ocean.

Up in NorCal, I got some bad advice from a more experienced surfer who said that I should paddle with more arch in my back. It's only since I've been surfing without the padding of neoprene that I've realized this is the cause of my sore ribs when the water's warm. A high arch puts a lot of pressure on the lowest ribs, so it's best to keep one's head lower to the board. I'd worried about damaging myself too much early in my surf camp trip to Costa Rica next month, but keeping low has fortunately alleviated this issue.

There were only two guys out at my local break, and one lamented that there wasn't much going on as I paddled past him. This was one occasion when local knowledge, or perhaps just better judgment, paid off; they weren't sitting in the right spot. Soon enough, I caught a fine wave. The guys took some dregs and went in, leaving me happily alone. Birdrock to the north and Hairmos to the south were crowded, and admittedly better waves were coming through at those breaks. A few guys who'd been surfing Hairmos "played through" Hens on their way to the exit path up the cliff, and as I told one of them, it might have been funner there, but here I was all alone.
Birdrock, up the coast and earlier (via Surfline)
I rode countless fun shoulder-high waves, lining up where I knew they'd peak, and had a blast. The rising tide created a strong backwash, once knocking the breath out of me as I dived off the back of a wave, having ridden to close to the cobblestone shore. 

Looking forward to a couple more days like this before the swell fades.

07 September 2015

Simple Sarongs Review: Brilliantly Simple

My Key Mykonos
I've tried several different changing towels and robes, including the Chawel, the Roomel, the Toga Beach, and the (not so useful anymore in warm San Diego) Surf Fur. But the best of the bunch is a brilliantly simple design by Simple Sarongs.

A Simple Sarong is a colorfully-patterned beach towel with eight buttonholes along the top edge and two buttons on the opposite side of that edge. It's easy to use: just wrap the towel around your body at the neck, upper chest, or waist, and button it up snugly. The company sent me one to try last month and I've put it to the test over numerous surf sessions.

It's a lot easier to change out of a wetsuit or swimsuit at the beach if you're a guy; we women have to worry more about accidentally flashing passersby. The Simple Sarong's button technology goes a long way to prevent that. I've tucked it up under a 1-mil rashguard before pulling the rashie over my head, and it stayed put. I've also buttoned it around my neck, and then lower, to get out of a fullsuit incrementally with no unintentional (or intentional) nudity.

I have only a couple of small complaints. The buttonholes and buttons are so well blended into the towel pattern that it's sometimes hard to locate them. That may be just a function of the pattern I selected, a design called Key Mykonos which I choose in memory of our recent vacation in Greece. And as I'm, shall we say altitudinally-challenged, a corner of the Simple Sarong drags on the ground when it's wrapped at my waist. I solved that by pulling up the excess fabric and tucking it in around the waistband.

Aside from those minor drawbacks, this changing towel is a keeper. It's an actual towel so it's nicely absorbent, it lets me change easily, and I can wear it home as a sarong. The Simple Sarong is now an essential part of my surfing kit.
Photo from the Simple Sarongs website, showing how to wrap

Tomorrow is a Better Day...

... because the summer crowds will be gone. But I still stole a few fun waves from the pack.

04 September 2015

Global Waves

Fun wind-choppy surf with only one other guy ahead of the Labor Day crowds.
Then I spent the afternoon searching out the best flights to London! I'm going to the Global Wave Conference next month to represent San Diego Surfrider and spread the word about our Ocean Friendly Restaurants campaign. Excited for the opportunity and the bonus of surfing in Cornwall! 

30 August 2015

Las Gaviotas

Night had not yet yielded to day when Jason and I arrived at Jon's house to begin our expedition across the border to surf in Baja. Jon had mis-set his alarm and the house was dark, but my deliberate pounding steps on the entry deck woke him. Soon we'd loaded our gear into his Jeep, strapped the boards on top, and pointed south.
The day was still new when we turned into the gated community of Las Gaviotas ("The Seagulls")  where a few of Jon's friends had rented a house. Access to the break out front is generally limited to people in the community, yet there were already close to twenty surfers in the water by the time we paddled out. Fortunately the numbers dropped steadily over the more than two hours we were in the water and it never seemed too crowded.
Jon's friend jumped off that rock; we walked to the beach
The waves were head-high with some power. I'd brought my 6'2" since my shortboard didn't get me into any decent waves the last (and only other) time I surfed Baja and the tide was rapidly filling in to a high high. The first wave I caught steepened faster than expected and swept me off my feet. After that, I rode a lot more with better success. Several were really fun and put a grin on my face.

It was Jon's first time surfing in months, after he'd badly hurt his wrist. When he was in position for his first wave, all four of us yielded and called him into it, then hooted when he popped up and rode. So stoked for him! I can only imagine how good that must've felt.

A few times during the session I was punished on the inside, glad of my booties for the rocks I felt underfoot near shore.
Once I was stuck on the treadmill for at least five minutes before I could scratch my way back to my friends in the lineup.
"I asked the ocean for a lull but didn't get one," I told Jon, who's fluent in Spanish (whereas I only studied it for two years long ago in escuela secundaria). "Maybe I need to say it in Spanish. Que es la palabra?" 
"Tranquilo," he said. 
Or "siesta," Jason called from farther away. 
"No!" I said. "The ocean's been taking a siesta for weeks. We don't want any more siestas."
Jon's Jeep, and Jason waiting on the street in the gated community
The thermometer on the bottom of my surfboard read 73° but when a light breeze came up, I started to shiver a little in my 2-mil long jane. After more than two hours, we caught our last waves in. Mine was a right, heading back toward the beach. I had a nice run on the face but it ran out of energy before taking me all the way, so I belly-rode whitewater to shore and washed up happy and tired and stoked.
View from Las Rocas, our post-surf second-breakfast spot