31 December 2007

The Hook, 31 December 2007

Just me and 3 dozen of my dearest friends on the sunny warmish last day of 2007. There were definitely some waves I could have caught on my Xanadu, if one or more of my buddies wasn't already riding. So, since a zero wave count was a near certainty, plus the water was freeeezing and my new 4/3 wetsuit wasn't up to the task, I bailed early and headed to Zelda's to meet up with S for lunch and some mimosas to soothe my frustrated soul. 

I've decided I'm just going to have to get a good warm wetsuit and suck it up to do winter dawn patrols. I need some waves!

Buying a Wetsuit

Recently I've been looking for a new wetsuit. I bought my tired and biggish 5/4 O'Neill on the Washington coast about 3 years ago, and the 4/3 Hotline I got just 10 months ago hasn't held up well. It's really hard finding a wetsuit in women's size 2, but I was resigned to getting my next wetsuit at Hotline anyway since at least it fit. The O'Neill wetsuits I've had before seemed much better quality, but the smallest size was 4 so they were always a bit big on me. That's why I was happy to find O'Neill has started selling some of their line in size 2. I called the store before I drove down to make sure they had some:

Me: Do you have any 4/3 wetsuits in women's size 2?
O'Neill Wetsuit Room Guy #1: Oh, yeah, we have PsychoII, Mod, D-Lux, Epic, all of those here in size 2.
Me: Great! All in stock in size 2?
WRG1: Yeah, yeah, in stock.

He lied. Here's my in-store conversation with a different guy:

Me: So you only have the D-Lux and Epic in size 2?
WRG2: Yeah.
Me: Well, can you order in the Mod?
WRG2: I dunno. I'll check.... No, O'Neill doesn't make the higher end suits in size 2.
Me: Because size 2 women wouldn't want to buy higher end suits?
WRG2: Riiiight.

To make matters worse, I was kind of counting on a new 4/3 being warm enough to get me through the winter, since the Hotline mostly did last season. But the D-Lux I bought, though it fits well enough, is too low-end to pull it off. I felt the cold right away today, so after a brief sesh, I headed back to the store in search of a 5/4. Alas, O'Neill also doesn't believe size 2 women would want to do dawn patrol in January in NorCal, because they don't make 5/4s for us either. So in O'Neill's mind, women my size all dust off our Softtops and go surf just a few times a year on warm, sunny summer days. Sigh.

25 December 2007

22 December 2007

Merry Solstice!

I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.

'We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,'
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.
- Oliver Herford, I Heard a Bird Sing

Now the daylight will start to increase again, so more time for surfing before or after work. Hurray!

15 December 2007

Capitola, 15 Dec 2007

Resolved: 1) Always bring a longboard to Capitola. 2) Replace wetsuits that are more than 3 years old. 3) Put really, truly fresh batteries in the surf camera.

09 December 2007

Pleasure Point, 9 Dec 2007

By the time S and I finished our Sunday morning stuff, drove to Capitola, and picked up my repaired* Xanadu at Paradise Surf Shop, I had much less than a hour to surf and Pleasure Point was closest. It was sunny, cool, clean and 3-4'. As usual, PP was crowded, and got more crowded by the minute. I sat on the left at the second break from the point and hoped for something to come my way with no one on it, in vain as it turned out. I was forced to attempt a duck dive at one point, executed it badly, and got a nice roll and tumble in the wave. But that's kind of fun anyway, when the hold-down isn't too long. And as always it was just good to get wet!

* Why did my 5'8" Surftech Xanadu need repair? Stupid story: When I picked up my nice 7-spray-pattern heavy metal hose nozzle to rinse off the board after my last surf session with D before he moved to SoCal (cry) , it slipped from my hands and landed - SMACK - on the top deck of my favorite board (cry). But Felix from Sand Dollar Ding Repair did an adequate repair job (though not wholly aesthetically pleasing).

29 November 2007

Four Mile, 29 Nov 2007

Last surf sesh with D before his move to LA. S rode with me and I met D at the break after finding in-town spots were too small. It was a beautiful sunny day, damn cold at first but warming. I got just a single three-nanosecond ride on my funshape, but it sure beat being at work!

02 November 2007

Davenport, 2 November 2007

D and had I checked Davenport a lot of times before, but always ended up driving farther north for better surf. It was becoming a bit of a joke that we would never get to surf there together, especially now since D is moving to LA at the end of the month. But finally today conditions looked pretty good, so we suited up and walked south on the beach a ways before paddling out to the reef break, which we had to ourselves. It was bigger than it looked from the beach, over my head. D was getting some decent rides but for a while I sat too far out not catching anything, till he talked me closer inside near him. Just as I paddled near enough to explain that, with my pitiful duck-diving skills (or rather, lack thereof), I was afraid of getting pounded by the occassional big outside sets that were coming though - you guessed it, here comes one of those big waves ready to break on me. The results were sadly predictable, right down to again smacking my lip on the Xanadu, so I surfaced with a bruised lip and a little blood in my mouth.

Still, in some perverse way, I get a thrill, a rush of dopamine to the brain, from getting tossed and rolled like so much flotsam by the ocean. One thing I love about the sea, even just looking at its vastness, is how small and insignificant it makes me feel - not diminished but that my problems are not so big as they might seem. I also love that surfing forces me to live in the moment, because the ocean demands constant attention; if I fail to focus on the here and now, it will remind me, often by whacking me upside the head with a wave.

03 September 2007

(dis)Pleasure Point, 1 Sep 2007

A beautiful hot summer day, with warm water (relatively speaking), no wind (sooo glassy!), 3-4' inconsistent waves. Near perfect. Except that there were 16 guys out already at First Peak when I got in the water before 8 am. Those guys can be really aggro, so I sat off on the shoulder hoping for leftovers. When none were forthcoming, I moved east toward the next peak, to the left of a couple dozen of my closest friends. On one wave, I saw six guys trying to take off, so close together they could have held hands. Ironic that no one made it.

Having caught nothing and despairing after a while, I started chasing vacant whitewater, just to get up and get the feel of my shortboard under my feet again. That's what I get for trying to surf PP on Labor Day weekend... But on the bright side, I saw 2 otters, and a seal swam by about 10 feet away. And I had fun on a borrowed bodyboard at Sea Cliff beach later at a family picnic. Amazingly, I was able to go in the water sans wetsuit, it was that warm. Add the pods of dolphins and a few more seals swimming past, and it was a fine seaside afternoon.

I'm in frustrating place in my surfing right now. For personal reasons, I've had to cut back to only one or possibly two sessions a week. Then there's the catch-22 that it seems I can go to either a crowded spot with good conditions, or a more empty spot with poor conditions. Either way, I have trouble catching waves because of competition or crappy surf. So I feel I'm just not progressing. I wish I could get away to a good uncrowded wave like Pavones for a week, spend some quality time on a a quality wave, and bump up my skills to the next level.

And now, another hiatus...

20 July 2007

Montara, 20 July 2007

After fighting my way out on the second attempt (I still suck at duck-diving), I ended up on the outside at Montara this morning all alone. No one in sight either in the water or on the beach. Under a dark lowering sky. Sitting half-submerged in murky, opaque water. Nagging, vague remembrances of shark stories about said break. Jaws theme threatening to play in my head.

OK, so I totally creeped myself out, hastened back to the beach without riding anything but a little whitewater on the way in (which doesn't count, since I'm not a beginner). But who knows? Maybe the Man in the Gray Suit was down there, hungry, eying my legs danging down into his world, wondering if the Shark Camo on the bottom of my board really meant I was poisonous, or was just a deception.

But if he was, I'm glad I left him hungry.

Interestingly, the next day and a bit further south, a great white shark attacked a kayaker...

14 July 2007

29 May 2007


Surfergrrrl is on hiatus while she's in rehab for an acute case of surf addiction.

04 May 2007

Pleasure Point, 4 May 2007

Swell direction: NW
Tide: Rising, just past -0.5 low
Wind: Light breeze
Air/Water Temp: 50/54 degrees
Wildlife: Dolphins, a seal, an otter, and a mean guy

Like yesterday only worse - cloudier, windier, more disorganized. And when I didn't quite manage to paddle out over a wave before it started to break and tumbled me, smashing my chin and lip into my board (my first pressure ding - sob!), I came up to an angry asshole yelling at me for hitting him. This despite the fact that, as D reported, there were copious amounts of blood flowing from my lip at the time. I don't know where Angry Guy had been since he wasn't in my field of view when I was paddling to the outside; he must have been inside of me trying to catch the wave I got caught up in. At any rate, I apologized and offered to pay for the damage he was screaming about, but he preferred to keep yelling at me, calling me a menace. So D quietly led me away from the jerk and his friends. I actually managed to catch a wave then and ride for a few more milliseconds than I had done. But the peace of the morning was ruined. People like that are the true menaces to the surfing experience. Shit happens, but we're supposed to be out there to have fun. It's not good to lose sight of what's important.

03 May 2007

38th Ave, 3 May 2007

Swell direction: NW
Tide: Rising, an hour past -0.5 low
Wind: Calm to very light
Air/Water Temp: 45/54 degrees
Wildlife: A distant seal

No pix today; my camera battery died. It was 4-5', bigger closer to the Point, and surprisingly uncrowded. Unfortunately D decided to waste his time sleeping instead of surfing. I'm getting more used to the shortboard now, actually catching a few waves, although not managing to ride them for very long. I think I need to practice in the whitewater some more just to get the feel of being up on the board. Too bad there's not a loooong barely-sloping beach break like Westport, WA, around here - that would be perfect.

When I parked at the Hook, a couple guys hit me up for wax. (Funny how that never happens when I'm with D, but like every other time when I'm alone.) Before they finished with my wax, a homeless guy, who looked like a former member of ZZ Top, paused his overloaded grocery cart to ask me about my MINI Cooper's gas mileage (28-30). Guess he thought the conversation was unfinished, because after I surfed, he followed me back from the bluff to my car. Said he liked to talk to pretty women, had $50K in the bank his aunt left him, and was an idiot savant. Hmm. Seemed mostly harmless, but I needed to change into my work clothes, and escaping to the bathroom was my only option. Fortunately he didn't follow me in there!

29 April 2007

Waddell Creek, 28 Apr 2007

Swell direction: WNW
Tide: Rising, just past -0.9 low
Wind: Windy
Air/Water Temp: 60/52 degrees

Waddell kicked my ass this afternoon. When D & S and I arrived, it was borderline too windy; the kiteboarders were getting ready to go out. But as it was a gorgeous warm sunny Saturday, all the more sheltered town spots were packed wall-to-wall, so we went out anyway. No one else was out, so it was hard to judge the size from the beach, and it turned out to be bigger and stronger than it looked. I gave it my best shot several times trying to get out and damn near made it once before another short-period head-high wave broke in front of me and laughed at my attempt to duck-dive under it. I ended up being pushed far south, gave up and paddled back to the beach, then walked north again, to where newbie S was practicing in the whitewater. Defeated, I caught a few broken waves too, just to get up on the shortboard. At least D got in a few decent rides, but for me, it totally sucked and left me unsatisfied. I still want to go surf...

24 April 2007

Pleasure Point, 24 Apr 2007

Lots like yesterday (even down to the friendly sea otter) but the tide was an hour closer to the earlier high, so it was a bit swamped when D and I arrived for dawn patrol. It was also annoyingly more crowded, and I had a couple near misses. D and I shared my 5'8" and his 7'0" funshape, since I put his shortboard in the repair shop on Saturday, but we both had trouble finding waves to ourselves in the pack. On the way back in, I popped up in the whitewater and rode my shortboard a little longer this time, even managing some little turns.

23 April 2007

38th Ave, 23 Apr 2007

Swell direction: WNW
Tide: Falling, between 4.8' and -0.5
Wind: Calm to light
Air/Water Temp: 45/52 degrees
Wildlife: An unshy sea otter

D had some lame excuse about needing sleep, so I headed to SC alone in the dark predawn. The sun rose in a clear sky and the ocean was glassy. Where I went out around 38th, the waves were 4' and a little inconsistent, but it was overhead nearer to Pleasure Point. I almost caught a few waves on my shortboard, and practiced duck-diving while waiting for sets (score against the one actual wave attempted: 0). On the way in, I popped up for a few second ride in the whitewash, but fell when I oversteered into a turn. A glorious morning to be in the water - what a terrific way to start the week! And the great thing is I get to do it again tomorrow morning.

I followed a sea otter's underwater bubbles and got his picture up close.

21 April 2007

Four Mile, 21 April 2007

Swell direction: NW
Tide: Rising, 3 hours past -0.9' low
Wind: Light
Air/Water Temp: 52/52 degrees
Wildlife: Aggro guys

By the time we reached the coast in the late morning, Davenport looked like it was on its way to being blow out, so D and I didn't bother checking Waddell and headed back to Four Mile. It's a pretty spot, and the waves were 4-5' and near glassy. Unfortunately the sesh was marred by the handful of mean guys already in the water who were sending out a ugly vibe and owning the peak. Even paddling out, they'd cut right in front of me like I was invisible, forcing me to stop paddling to let them pass. People like that should just join a fight club and stay out of the water; that's not what surfing's supposed to be about.

D and I traded boards so he could try my new 5'8", and he had fun on it. Unfortunately, while I was on his fairly new 6'3" Lost, I wasn't able to get out of the way of a mean blond guy who was trying to catch a wave. I attempted to paddle out around him on the right, but didn't quite make it over before the wave started to break. What pissed me off is that he kept coming straight ahead without even trying to avoid me. Asshole. The wave tumbled me hard and in the process his fin apparently impacted the board, making a linear blue dent in the deck. Shit! I felt really bad and of course am paying for the repairs, but D's without his board for about a week, so I'll be sharing my shortboard with him.

On the bright side, after we switched back, I caught a wave on my new board and rode it for a split second! Luckily D was on the same wave because my leash came off (maybe I didn't lock it down sufficiently?) and my board headed in toward the reef without me, but he was nearby and able to grab it. So stoked to have caught/ridden a wave, however briefly, on my shortboard! Woo hoo!

Surfline forecast is for "Good" conditions in Santa Cruz all week. (Although interestingly, after the fact, they revised today from "Poor-Fair" to "Good." Hmmm.) Hope to get in a few sessions!

20 April 2007

Linda Mar, 20 Apr 2007

Swell direction: NW
Tide: At 4.6 high and fallling
Wind: Breezy onshore
Air/Water Temp: 58/51 degrees

Choppy, sloppy, rolly, mushy, disorganized, about 4' where I was hanging with the shortboarders in front of the bathhouse, dropping to 2' on the south end. Probably 40 people out; you're never lonely at Lindy. It did look like the longboarders were having more fun. But I just needed to get wet, even though I knew going in I wouldn't have a chance of catching anything. So my modest goal for the sesh was to sit on my tippy little 5'8", hands free, without falling off into the water. Stop laughing! I did mention it was very choppy, so this was not so easy. I think I may have taken a lot of pictures of the sky, however, as attempting a shot usually off-balanced me into the drink.

16 April 2007

Pleasure Point, 16 Apr 2007

Swell direction: WNW
Tide: Rising, 3 hours past -0.2 low
Wind: Very light
Air/Water Temp: 45/50 degrees
Wildlife: Otters

Yesterday afternoon D and I shopped for my first shortboard. We looked at Wise but I ended up buying a Surftech at Aqua, a red/gray 5'8" (really a 5'10") Xanadu Rocky, and D got some cool-looking high tech fins. So of course we had to try them out first thing this morning. Pleasure Point was disorganized, 4-5', with a handful of guys out. I didn't catch anything, although I popped up and fell a couple times in the whitewash on the way in. But I started to get a feel for the board and worked on duck diving, for which there was ample opportunity since I got washed far inside on my unsuccessful attempts. Still, I managed to duck dive once, so it can be done. Yay! It'll be so nice not to get pounded on the way out anymore. On the downside it seems much colder sitting down in the water, and it's a lot more work paddling; my shoulder muscles were sore when I got to work.

Now on to learning to catch waves on my pretty little board.

13 April 2007

Capitola, 13 Apr 2007

Swell direction: WNW
Tide: around 4.4' high
Wind: Very light
Air/Water Temp: 43/52 degrees
Wildlife: One shy seal

It was cooold when D and I got to Capitola for dawn patrol. Since it was high tide, which would make it tricky to get out of the water at PP or the other cliffside spots, we headed out there even though it looked small and mushy from the beach. Fortunately D had dusted the spiderwebs from his LB, 'cause his SB would not have worked at all. And it was bigger than it looked, about 3-4', with only 2 other people out. So nice not to be crowded! We caught a lot of waves, with some good long rides. An excellent way to start the day, watching the sunrise from atop a surfboard.

08 April 2007

38th Ave, 8 Apr 2007

Swell direction: WNW
Tide: 0.25' low and rising
Wind: Light with bursts of breezy
Air/Water Temp: 55/53 degrees

Lately it's been blown out north and mostly flat south, so today was my first surf in two loooong weeks. I found a perfect parking spot for my ding-free MINI Cooper in the 41st lot and walked west a little. It was a beautiful sunny day and the waves were 2-4', so as the guy who parked next to me said, "everybody and their dog" was out. All fighting for inconsistent and mostly mushy waves. Still, it was a beautiful sunny day, and I was surfing, so all was right with the world, at least for a little while. From the leftovers, I pulled 3 short but decent rides, and one dammit-I-popped-up-with-my-feet-too-close-together. I want to go again!

Check out this tree clinging to a beach cliff near the Hook. I would not want to live in that house.

24 March 2007

Pleasure Point, 24 Mar 2007

Swell direction: NW
Tide: Rising, just past -0.2' low
Wind: Light breeze
Air/Water Temp: 55/52 degrees
Wildlife: Dolphins & a sea otter

Since points north seemed they would be blown out, D and I headed to Santa Cruz. Capitola was tiny, so once again we ended up near PP. Since I've decided I want to move down to a shortboard, D let me try out his 6'3". I almost kinda sorta was able to duck dive it a couple times. But the chest- to head-high waves were inconsistent and often mushy (plus, it goes without saying, it was crowded), so I didn't manage to catch any waves before we switched boards again. Then I had to let one go because a guy was right in front of me and I was afraid I'd hit him when I took off. But I did get in one brief ride before the wave mushed out on me, and my shoulder held up fairly well. Any day surfing is a good day! Hopefully we can get in another sesh tomorrow before a storm moves in on Monday.

Look close - the dark shapes in the wave are dolphins!

15 March 2007

Pleasure Point, 14 Mar 2007

Swell direction: SW
Tide: Rising, 3 hours past -0.3' low
Wind: Light
Air/Water Temp: 75/53 degrees
Wildlife: Sea otters

Same shit, different day at PP. Horribly crowded as usual, but 4 Mile was too blown out when we checked it after work. Waves about 4', half of them mushy. But to mix it up, I took out my 6'8" NSP, which I hadn't ridden in at least a year and a half. It didn't take long to get in sync again, and I had a nice ride on the one wave I managed to snatch from the mob. But this surf sesh pushed my sore right shoulder over the edge, and the physical therapist told me not to surf for at least 5 days if I don't want to risk doing real damage. Crap!

11 March 2007

Waddell Creek, 11 Mar 2007

Swell direction: NW/SSW
Tide: Rising, 1 hour past 0.8' low
Wind: Very light
Air/Water Temp: 75/54 degrees
Wildlife: A distant seal

A glorious summery day in NorCal, and a fun, uncrowded sesh at Waddell. D and I checked 4 mile and Davenport first, but the crowd factor was high. I'm glad we pressed on to Waddell, because there were less than a dozen people in the water, spread out along the beach break. Getting out through the whitewash was a bit of a problem - turtle-rolling never seems to work out for me and I wish I could duck-dive like D on his little potato chip - but eventually I made it out during a brief lull. It was pretty glassy and the waves were 4-5', a little inconsistent but there were fun rides to be had. Once I got re-acclimated to my 7'2" funshape (after snubbing it for the new 8'0" longboard for several months), I snagged a few decent rights.

Waddell is a beautiful spot, but within view of Ano Nuevo. Fortunately the water is murky, so if there were any sharks, I couldn't see them. And of course I do have SharkCamo on my boards, so no worries!

07 March 2007

Linda Mar, 7 Mar 2007

Swell direction: WNW
Tide: at 1' low
Wind: Very light
Air/Water Temp: 50/52 degrees

Pacificwaverider was claiming HMB @ Jetty to be 2-3 feet, so I drove by on my way to Linda Mar. 2-3 inches was closer to the mark, little ankle-biters maybe getting to a foot, so I didn't even slow down and kept driving north. Montara had a couple people out on small waves, so I was fearful of another skunking, but still determined to get wet. Fortunately Lindy didn't disappoint. It was glassy but small, 2-3 feet, mostly mushy and inconsistent, but I managed to ride 3 decent lefts before I had to leave for work. Life is good again!

02 March 2007

Linda Mar, 2 Mar 2007

Swell direction: NW
Tide: 2.5 hours before 5.8’ high
Wind: Light offshore
Air/Water Temp: 42/51 degrees

March came in like a polar bear, and it was only 42 degrees when I arrived at Linda Mar just after daylight. While I was able to dig deep to find the motivation to drive to the beach for a solo dawn patrol, the ocean looked so uninviting that I couldn’t bring myself to paddle out alone. The north end was mushy, the south end was contaminated, and the middle was 2-4’, inconsistent and closing out. Still, one uninformed or foolhardy longboarder was risking illness on the far south, and another was attempting with little success to catch something in front of the bathhouse.

The Surfline reporter, who supposedly was there at the same time, called the surf as "3-5 ft. - waist to head high and fair conditions". IMO, they just put in whatever the Surfline forecast was predicting regardless of reality. In all fairness, she did note "Cleaner conditions but still generally walled up form. Occasionally ridable corners with the rising high tide." So best to read the details.

I drove south in search of better conditions. Montara was small, breaking all over the place, and totally mushed out. The Jetty wasn’t closing out as much as Linda Mar, but it was smaller, mostly about 2’, and only breaking right next to the jetty heading into a bunch of partly submerged rocks. Two people out there, looked like beginners.

At least it was a nice morning for a drive along the ocean…

25 February 2007

Pleasure Point, 24 Feb 2007

Swell direction: NW
Tide: Just before & after 0.2' low
Wind: Light, then breezy
Air/Water Temp: 48/53 degrees
Wildlife: Black & white birds, blue fish

Another overcrowded and frustrating day near Pleasure Point. D and I met up with some of the crew from Stokemaster.com at 41st Ave, then paddled closer to the Point, where it was breaking about 4-6'. Since it looked like the sun was going to come out when we left the car, I had my SeaSpecs around my neck. It was hard for me to get any waves because there were so many people in the water. I pearled badly on the first wave I caught, leading to one of those washing machine moments that left me grateful when I finally broke the surface to take a breath. Unfortunately, the tumbling must have flexed my SeaSpecs too much, because when the sun did make a brief appearance, I found both the lenses were gone. Bummer.

I had to back off a lot, even the five or so times I was up and riding, because someone else was already on the wave, and once accidentally hit a guy I didn't see. He was a bit pissed off but accepted my apology. Then I moved out to the far shoulder again to get more clearance, but caught nada. With the wind picking up, my teeth we chattering, and we headed in. I passed a little flock of striking black and white birds who made a sound like a ray gun in a 1950s sci-fi flick when they took flight, and saw a pair of brilliant blue fish in the shallows.

We were both really really cold when we got to the car, and the hot water I'd brought felt really really good.

So no good rides, but it still beats painting molding.

20 February 2007

Pleasure Point, 20 Feb 2007

Swell direction: NW
Tide: Falling, in between 4.7' high and 0.6' low
Wind: Breezy (5-10 kts)
Air/Water Temp: 57/54 degrees
Wildlife: several camera-shy sea otters

D and I bugged out of work early to head down to Santa Cruz, where conditions were reportedly better than in San Mateo County. We checked Capitola first; it was clean but too small, maybe up to 2', although there were a couple determined souls in the water. Next we tried the Hook, which was a bit windier and crowded, but 3-5'. Pleasure Point was less crowded but even windier, so we settled on a break a little east and parked at 35th.

By the time we headed out, it seemed the after-school crowd had invaded, with maybe 40 people in the water. I can't stand being in a crowd; I always feel like I'm in somebody's way. (D said, "Well, you ARE in their way! Everybody is.") If I managed to catch a wave, then I'd be worried about hitting someone. All that makes me anxious and nervous - not what I go surfing for. So I left D sitting in the midst of the pack and went to hang out on the end where I could have some room to myself. Mostly I was too far on the shoulder to catch anything, or someone was already on a wave and I'd have to back off, so lots of waiting around. I tried to sneak up quietly on a sea otter to take her picture, but she was camera-shy and dove down before I could get close enough.

When I finally did catch a wave, I blew the pop-up because it seemed like my front leg was off in a daydream after sitting so long (Me: "pop up! NOW!" Leg: "Whaaaa? You want me to do what? Right noowww?"). But a few minutes later I made up for it by snagging a nice long right, and I caught another short ride before various semi-frozen body parts drove us from the water. We watched the clouds turn pink on the way to sunset as we walked along the cliff top back to the car - beautiful end to the day.

17 February 2007

Capitola, 17 Feb 2007

Swell direction: NW
Tide: Falling, in between 6' high and -1' low
Wind: Light to none
Air/Water Temp: 73/55 degrees
Wildlife: 3 sea otters (or one 3 times?)

A beautiful summer day in February, with glassy 2-4' waves - perfect! Capitola was more crowded than I'd seen it the few times I've been there before, with about 2 dozen people split between the outside and inside breaks. A sea otter was floating on his back, snacking on an unlucky crab, as I paddled out. I missed getting his photo as a nice wave was headed my way, and I caught a sweet right.

Since it was a bit crowded and most everyone was going right, I got in position on the inside end so I could pick off the empty lefts. A bit shorter ride heading that direction, but it was all mine. Being goofy does have its advantages.

As the tide dropped, so did the crowd and the already light wind, and I moved to the outside break. Not used to surfing in kelp, I made the mistake of sitting in a patch of it. When I spun around to paddle for a fine-looking wave, I wrapped a length of it around my right leg, and went precisely nowhere as the wave passed by, empty.

The wait for waves got longer too on the falling tide, but I bagged a total of 8 or 9, all nice rides. On the last, I finally managed to sit back down on my board at the end instead of making a planned fall - yay! Now I can look more like I know what I'm doing out there.

16 February 2007

Linda Mar & HMB, 16 Feb 2007

Swell direction: NW
Tide: Rising, two hours before 6.5' high
Wind: Light
Air Temp: 50 degrees

Skunked! Surfline’s forecast was 3-5’ and fair conditions, but Linda Mar was jumbled and disorganized, breaking all over the place not far off the beach, with a bit of wind chop on it. I suppose one might’ve been able to find a rideable wave somewhere out there with enough patience and the good luck to be in the right random spot at the right time, but when I arrived just after daybreak no one was even trying. There was also a island of fog only over the cove in the midst of otherwise sunny skies. HMB @ jetty was cleaner but small, maybe up to 2’, breaking too close to the rocks on the near-high tide, with no one out there either. Hopefully tomorrow will be better; maybe I'll try down south, Capitola or Pleasure Point.

12 February 2007

Linda Mar, 12 Feb 2007

Swell Direction: W
Tide: falling, 1.5 hours past 5.2' high
Wind: Very light
Air/Water Temp: 45/54 degrees

Pacificwaverider and Surfline were both so wrong today. Pacificwaverider said HMB @ Jetty was 1-2'; it was bigger. Surfline said Linda Mar was 4-7'; it was smaller. Always a gamble when you head for the coast before dawn...

D and I checked out the Jetty first, but it was about 3-5', messy, disorganized and uninviting with no one out. So we drove up to Linda Mar, which already had a small crowd (per usual), also about 3-5' but cleaner with some ridable waves here and there. It took a while to snag any, but we each rode one in close succession before we had to leave. Clearly I need to work on my backside turns, but that's hard when you only catch one wave in 30 minutes!

My new 4/3 Hotline wetsuit kept me warm enough. Now if only I could find some booties that fit so my feet stop going numb....

06 February 2007

Linda Mar, 6 Feb 2007

Surfline called it pretty well today:
3-4 ft. - waist to shoulder high with occasional 5 ft. and fair conditions. Fair and glassy with walled up lines and soft workable shoulders on the inside.
Although I'd add it was inconsistent and say it was a little smaller, especially south of the bathhouse, where I started out just after daylight on a high low tide. The three people in the water at that spot quickly grew to over a dozen - too crowded since it wasn't breaking over a very wide distance. So I headed a little north of the bathhouse where only 1 guy was out. He was friendly but mostly we just waited around until conditions started to improve, either on the incoming tide or because we drifted even farther north to perhaps a better spot. Hard to get used to the steep fast wave again, and I blew a few takeoffs, but had a couple brief rides before nailing a nice left just before I had to leave for work. Even managed to turn up and exit out the back right before the wave closed out. Sweet! Stoked!

04 February 2007

HMB @ Jetty, 4 Feb 2007

No pix today - camera battery was dead when I got out on the water, after only about 120 shots.

Surfline's forecast for this weekend was the rare "good" so I had my hopes up. Surfline lies. Or maybe somewhere on the San Mateo County coast there were good waves, but not at the Jetty, where it was mostly closed out. Or at Linda Mar, which I drove by (sort of) on the way home. Or at Montara, although the 3 guys out had more - and bigger - shoulders coming at them than at HMB or LM. Pacificwaverider had it wrong to, calling it 1-2'; it was more like 3-4' when I got there but dropping in size and consistency as the tide pulled out. It was pretty glassy though, and a beautiful warm sunny day. I thought there would be fewer people in the water (about 2 dozen at HMB, 60+ at Lindy - ick!), but I guess I shouldn't be too surprised that some guys would rather surf than watch the Superbowl.

Compared to my last surf sesh at Pavones, it was crap. Yet I still managed to catch 3 waves before my frozen feet drove me in, and proved to myself I can do it right (backside) as well as left. Well, maybe not as well...

29 January 2007

My 5 Minutes of Fame

No surfing over the weekend because it rained both days, and I'm not looking to get sick from dirty water. Unfortunately I won't be able to surf during the week either as the tides are all wrong (high high before work, low low after work). Sigh...
But I just came across a link on the Pura Vida Adventures surf camp website to a New York Times article that has three pictures of lil' old me (unnamed, hence I figure I only used up maybe 5 minutes of the 15 I have coming).

I had a great time at Pura Vida surf camp, in Mal Pais ("bad country"), Costa Rica, in early July 2005. I'd definitely recommend it. There just happened to be a NYT photographer there when I was, taking pix for an article on vacations combining yoga with surfing and other activities.

27 January 2007

Pavones, Costa Rica, 23 Jan 2007

Another beautiful dawn in paradise, riding a more manageable 9'2".

Had a private lesson this time because the only other woman at the surf camp decided to sleep in instead of surf. Not that she would've surfed with me anyway; perhaps she hates vegans, or she's one of the few remaining Bush supporters and took immediate offense to the American Traveler International Apology T-shirt I wore on the flight from San Francisco. Also had a late morning sesh on an 8'6" (no pix), but the tide was getting low with a long wait between sets.
~ ~ ~
Best line overheard at Venus Surf Adventures
Surf camp owner, to a beginner who dropped in on my wave:
"I would never do that, because I'm a nice person."

Pavones, Costa Rica, 22 Jan 2007

Dawn patrol on a 10'2" log. Catches nearly every wave but hard to turn.

This boat is Swell, which is being sailed around the world, sometimes alone, by surfer Liz Clark.

Welcome to Surf Camp

"Welcome to Pavones, Costa Rica, the 2nd longest left point break in the world, and to Venus Surf Adventures, aka Venus Surf Camp for women, although you may come to think Venus Boot Camp more apt. Please be at the beach house by 6:25 am tomorrow, because we will leave for the beach precisely at 6:30 for your surf lesson. If you haven't yet reset your watch from Pacific time, that's 4:30 in the morning. It's an 8 minute walk from your hotel, so plan your departure accordingly, and add extra time if you need to apply sunscreen, etc, once you arrive.

"We'll be exiting the water by about 8:10 because breakfast starts at 8:30. Yes, our website does promise a 2-hour surf lesson per day, but you don't want to be late for breakfast, do you?

"Now that we've finished breakfast, please hurry back to your hotel to shower and change. We will leave for our 2.5-hour long jungle hike in half an hour.

"Too bad we're running late. Did you really have to make the 5 minute walk to the only landline phone in town to call home? I'm afraid now we'll have to skip swimming in the waterfall pool. Well, maybe we can squeeze in a quick dip, just in and out, then we have to get walking again, because we must be back for lunch at 1 pm. Too bad we only saw some cows, no monkeys or sloths or other forest mammals. No, I don't think it's because sensible creatures are sleeping during the hottest part of the day instead of traipsing about under the blazing sun.

"I hope you enjoyed lunch. You now have half an hour to relax before we collect you to walk to yoga class. After yoga, you will have a whole hour to yourself! Then it's on to dinner at 5 pm. Don't dawdle or we'll miss the sunset.

"What a nice dinner. Here we are back at your hotel, and it's only 7:30 pm. No TV, telephone, or other people around to bother you, and no noisy bars or restaurants or anything else nearby to disturb the solitude. Really, you should have thought to bring a group of friends with you, as we can't guarantee there will be anyone else attending our surf camp during the week you chose. Please do enjoy sitting in you barren room alone, reading a book until you fall asleep. You'll want to get to bed early anyway, since you need to be at the beach house by 6:25 sharp tomorrow morning. Don't be late!"

26 January 2007

Things I Learned at Surf Camp

  1. Forget turtle-rolling. The best way to get through whitewater on a longboard is to paddle hard almost into it, then push up onto your hands and knees so the water passes freely between you and the board.
  2. Turn down the face of the wave as soon as you pop up, but don't ride all the way to the bottom because you'll slow down too much. Instead, make small turns up and down the face to stay near the middle of it.
  3. Turn your head and point your arms in the direction you want to go, because that will turn the rest of your body and help to shift your weight to make the turn.
  4. To end a ride, turn all the way up the face so you go over the top and out the backside, or, if it's too late because the wave's already closed out, dive off the board over the whitewater to the back. Looks better than just falling off...