28 December 2008

HMB @ Jetty, 28 December 2008

I got to the Jetty ahead of L to find only a few cars at the side of the road and no one in the water. Hmm. But L had predicted good waves on the just-post-high high tide, so I crossed the street to have a look. He was right. It was glassy and a bit offshore, with some nice 3-4-footers rolling in, perfect for the fish. And no one out!

What a difference it makes to surf alone except for a friend, to be able to sit exactly in the takeoff zone and not have to worry about interferences or collisions. After a while, a couple of beginners on big foamies turned up, but there was still plenty of room. L said he lost track after 10 waves. I wasn't counting but I got a lot of rides, some nice down-the-lines, practicing turns and getting more skilled and confident on the fish. With the third short fin providing extra stability, I was able to keep riding when the waves broke into turbulent whitewater, and even made the drop on a larger closeout (although then I blew it when I forgot to stay low). Plenty of duck-diving practice too when a bigger outside set would come through, with the advantage that, as L pointed out, these were waves that "won't kill you if you mess up."

The air and water were relatively warm, both in the low 50s, but I was moving a lot and with the sun mostly shining, I wasn't cold. After about an hour and a half we were getting tired. My pop-ups were becoming sloppy and my paddling muscles were feeling edges of fatigue, but it was hard to get off the nice wave train. We went back out for "just one more" three times before calling it a day. It was like King Neptune gave me flowers to apologize for smacking me the last time. A totally awesome session!

Pic from my new cell, a Motorola KRZR.

24 December 2008

HMB @ Jetty, 23 December 2008

I bit my shortboard at the start of a sunset session. Foolishly trying to follow L out through shore pound when there was a perfectly good rip nearby, I attempted to jump over a closeout that was too big and powerful for that maneuver to succeed. The wave grabbed my board and threw it in my face. Not the first time I've kissed the Xanadu, though I could tell immediately it was the worst, with my lip split and bleeding profusely, as B confirmed. But I'd only just arrived, so I used the rip and headed to the lineup anyway. Unfortunately the conditions had deteriorated significantly by that time of day, with lots of wind chop and poor wave form, so I got nada but a fun whitewater bellyride in.

After carefully eating dinner with L & B at tasty Siam Thai restaurant, S and I headed home and I was able to assess the damage to my still-bleeding mouth. One of my top front teeth has been rotated noticeably inward and aches from the dislocation. Not surprising, given the deep dent it made in the deck of my board. As to my lip, who needs injections to look like Angelina Jolie? Board-smacking is free, although I would need to apply copious amounts of red lipstick to hide the other damage.

Or in honor of Christmas eve, perhaps in addition to my Santa cap I'll wear a Santa beard over my mouth. Happy Holidays, everyone! Oh, and if you know someone who does good epoxy ding repair in the Bay Area or Santa Cruz, or a good dentist who hasn't closed already for the holidays, let me know.

22 December 2008

One Thing I Don't Miss About SoCal

Our beaches are never this gross.

Last weekend I was thinking about how relatively clean the ocean beaches are on the Peninsula and in Santa Cruz. When I walk on the sand here, I don't have to pick a path through trash and keep an eye out for needles like I did when I lived on the L.A. coast. Not to say there's no trash here, and volunteers with Surfrider and other groups do a great job keeping it under control, but it's much less than this.

Although on the plus side, S did once find a $20 bill on Hermosa Beach.

20 December 2008

HMB @ Jetty, 20 December 2008

L and his wife B met up with me for a sunset session at the Jetty. Waaay too tiny and mushy for the fish, so L let me borrow his old 8' longboard. It has a puffy delammed deck but still rides well. No one else was out, so we had the slow knee-high waves all to ourselves. While S walked almost to town along the shore of Half Moon Bay, B's brother R took pix from the beach.

After a couple getting-used-to-the-board wipeouts, including the inevitable pearl, I dialed in and got some nice down-the-line rides, shuffling toward the nose to keep on the wave. Bunny-slope waves to be sure, but fun and stoke-replenishing.

As I changed in the muddy parking lot, we were treated to a beautiful sunset at only 5 pm. Tomorrow is winter solstice, day of maximum darkness. Then the sun takes back the night and gives more time to surf.

Jumping Into the Spin Cycle

18 December 2008

Since It's Gone Flat...

...here's some holiday stuff.
Yes Deanna, There Is a Santa Claus

"I feel it necessary to respond to the attack on the existence of Santa circulating the net lately. The attack argued using Newtonian physics that Santa couldn't exist given the sheer volume of gifts to be delivered in the time allowed. I find that view myopic.

"What if Santa were in fact a time traveler from the 24th century? What if he wound up on our present day Earth by having his shuttlecraft fall through a temporal distortion? (This is a very probable happening as television tells us space is just rife with this sort of plot device.)

"Our traveler chose to land and live at the North Pole as he didn't want to risk influencing the present and hence disrupt his own future. But boredom set in as it will, and based on his extensive knowledge of history he decided to bring the myth of Santa to life.

"In an effort to look really cool, he gave the shuttle a rag-top conversion and a red paint job and called it his sleigh. The National Geographic photographers in the area bought this, but then they'd been out in the cold for a very long time. "Santa" explained the warp nacelles as magic runners on his sleigh. (After all, as the Paclids say, "They make him go.")

"Now, with his Warp 2 capable sleigh he was more than able to visit all the children in one night. Force fields explain away all the heat dissipation difficulties, and the inertial dampers solve all those nasty acceleration problems. (My nephew calls them "inertial dampeners" but I think that's just another name for your bladder.)

"Of course he doesn't haul all those toys from the North Pole. He simply replicates them using the on-board matter replicator. This makes more sense than trying to justify how elves make Nintendo cartridges anyway.

"I'm not certain of the point of the reindeer. Perhaps they are just 8 plastic lawn ornaments he's using as dashboard clutter. Kind of the 24th century equivalent of the plastic Jesus. I've never really understood geezer-cool anyway.

"The only remaining hole is trying to figure out how Santa knows what you want for Christmas. Hmmmm... Well judging by the reported girth of Santa and the well known beard, I might speculate that Santa is really Commander Riker. This could make Counselor Troy Mrs. Claus. With her empathic abilities she could sense whether you've been bad or good and know what to get you in either case. The fact she's only half empath could also explain why sometimes Santa's insight is a little fuzzy and you get socks when what you really wanted was Hot Wheels.

"So you see, Santa can exist. He just needs better technology."
I saw a guy surfing in a Santa hat at Capitola earlier this month. But it was a big day, and I think he was quickly de-hatted by the surf. So keep an eye out for a seal or an otter sporting a soggy red cap tipped with a fluffy white ball. Happy Holidays, everybody - and most especially, Merry Solstice! The days will soon be getting longer, offering more time to surf.

Fool on a Surfboard

Someday, the shark will go for the fool instead of the fish.
Then maybe these guys will stop hurting them in the name of fun.

Tell the Boss Dawn Patrol is Good for You

Next time you roll into work a little on the late side after a morning surf session, hand your boss this article. Turns out pre-work exercise makes you a more productive employee.

17 December 2008


Not an actual photo of Linda Mar. But it felt this cold.

I sabotaged my surf session this morning. I planned to meet up with L at the HMB Jetty, but it was flat, so we shifted to Linda Mar. When I pulled into the lot, the MINI informed me that the air temperature was 34 degrees, barely above freezing. Brrr! A new record low for me on dawn patrol, colder even than any day I'd surfed on the Washington coast in winter. But there were some fun looking waves coming through, and (obviously) hardly anyone out. And I needed to get wet, especially with the swell fading and nothing new incoming anytime soon. So I got my board off the car and de-bagged, then started to change. But when I pulled my wetsuit from the plastic surf gear box, I found I'd brought the wrong one! Instead of my 5/4 with integral hood, I had only a 4/3 with no hood.

34 degrees. No hood. Not enough rubber. I may be crazy to surf in such cold, but I'm not that crazy. Hmm, perhaps there was some subconscious, more rational part of my brain that took control of packing for surf last night?

Still need to get wet...

11 December 2008

Pro Women Surf Like the Guys

From the NY Times this morning:
...In November, Carissa Moore, 16, won the Reef Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa, on Oahu, by defeating the seven-time world champion Layne Beachley in the final matchup.

“We’re seeing the likes of Carissa Moore blow minds with her tailslides and the like,” said Beachley, 36, who will retire from full-time competition after the Billabong Pro Maui, which began Wednesday.

“I’ve never landed an aerial in my life,” Beachley said. “So I feel like I’m retiring at just the right time.”

Moore, of Honolulu, and her generation have looked to the men’s ranks for inspiration. “We’re maybe experimenting with our surfing a little bit, trying different things and really looking at what the guys are doing,” she said....

08 December 2008

Don't Drill, Baby, Don't Drill

Just a little SoCal reminder of why we don't want oil drilling off our coast: Of course, now that a gallon of gas has suddenly become cheaper than bread, nobody's shouting that stupid slogan anymore. But hopefully no one's rushing out to buy an SUV either.

07 December 2008

16 November 2008

One More Australia Photo

...just because it's a cool shot. This is Whale Beach, north of Sydney.

Now, for those of you who were looking forward to reading all the details of my Oz surf adventures, sorry, but I decided early on that I didn't want to spend my vacation blogging. And in fact, the technology just isn't there yet - or at least I don't own it - to make mobile photo and text blogging convenient and easy from the other side of the world. Now I simply don't have time. So the photos alone will have to do.

I've also decided to somewhat extend my vacation from blogging. I'll still post from time to time, but not every session, to focus more on surfing than surf writing, and keep things fresh and interesting. So until next time, hooroo from this seppo sheila!

Skunked in South Australia

Too small...
too blown out...
too closed out...
...but seeing a mob of wild 'roos made the drive worthwhile.

Really Wish I'd Brought My Board on This Hike

Noosa National Park

Noosa (Sunshine Coast), 12 November 2008

Pic from the day before. It was smaller and windier when I went out.

Burleigh Heads (Gold Coast), 10 November 2008

Dee Why (Sydney), 6 November 2008

Narrabeen (Sydney), 5 November 2008

Manly (Sydney), 3 November 2008

26 October 2008

Capitola, 26 October 2008

I've been feeling stoke-depleted of late, that is, I needed a high-wave count session, and I needed it bad. So I loaded up the big blue longboard and headed to my favorite longboard break in my favorite local beach town. An overhead NW swell meant some fun waist to chest high waves for Capitola. I found a spot on the inside, first at the main break and then farther east where the entangling speed-bump kelp wasn't so thick. After some initial re-adjustment to being on a pearl-prone Cadillac instead of driving a responsive Mini, I got in more rides than I could count, including a couple nice longs rights and a short but sweet left. It would have been a perfect afternoon, but I'll skip discussing the consequences of taking store-brand generic Dramamine which apparently lacks the active ingredients of the real thing.

As stoke-restorations go, it was just what the doctor ordered. I think I could be a pretty good longboarder in short order if I stuck with it, and I'd surely be getting a lot more vertical time. But that's not what I want. Despite the greater challenges and frustrations, I want to get good at shortboarding. I want to carve the face of the wave, do cutbacks, get shacked. I want speed, I want to rip. And someday I'll get there.

Next sesh: Australia!!!

Surfergrrrl endorses Obama for President! Now he'll win for sure.
Happy Halloween!

22 October 2008

Linda Mar, 22 October 2008

At first I thought I'd be reporting "same shit, different day." But then I found a sweet spot in the lineup, well inside the longboarders at the south end. I caught my first wave in what at least feels like weeks - YES!!! - but in my excitement forgot what to do next, or rather what not to do, and locked my knees straight to make a snap right turn into a back-flop. Bad knees, bad, bad knees! I caught three more chances to redeem myself, but all quickly ended in falls, including one stinging belly-flop. In my defense, the waves did all close out on my heels, and the fish is squirrelly to control in the turbulence. Maybe I should try adding in the center fin? Still, since I surf only once or twice a week, and often in less than favorable conditions, it seems I'm frequently having to re-learn parts of surfing, not progressing but just treading water to stay in place. I hope Oz serves me up some nice waves on vacation so I can bump up my skills a bit.

This may have been the last summery day of surfing for this year. Unusually, the winds stayed down for an evening sesh, and I watched the sun set behind Pedro Point, staying out until it was almost too dark to see the shore. Linda Mar is about the only place I feel comfortable lingering until dinner time for the man in the gray suit, since I do have shark camo on my board and, even at dark, he still has a big selection of black neoprene-clad morsels to choose from. Though I must confess to a split-second of fear when a seal popped his head up 15 feet from me in the gloom.

Sydney's Newest Loan Shark

Lurking outside a bank in Darling Harbor

18 October 2008

Montara, 18 October 2008

Narrative will have to wait. After I got wet, S and I drove to the City to meet up with a friend we haven't seen in a while. Soon after we said goodbye, S and I heading for a relaxing evening at home, and he and his family for the airport, our friend phoned to say that he'd mistaken their arrival time in Seattle for their departure time. Consequently they had seriously missed their flight, and he's showing up shortly to spend the night at our house his with his wife, mother, baby and toddler. So I'd best get on with the mad cleaning/child-proofing frenzy...
Ah, back to normal. And also back to work. Where'd my weekend go? Now to the session report:

We got to the coast much later than I wanted, with conditions degraded by rising tide and wind. To avoid Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival traffic, S and I drove to Montara via Pacifica. The swell had dropped and there wasn't a lot happening at Linda Mar, but still the water was speckled with surfers like a heavy shaking of pepper just off the beach. The crowd was lower at Montara with only a dozen out at mid-beach, but it's never a good sign when a wet longboarder heading back to the parking lot describes it in a word as "mushy."

Getting in and out at Montara is always a bit tricky with the shorepound, which is why I only go there on smaller days. I picked a reasonable looking entry point and paddled out with a few ducks dives. Once a pair of waves came almost on top of each other, and I could see a larger wave just starting to close out right behind the one I was duck-diving - no fair, how do you get under two in one shot? - but I made it out, breathing hard. Unfortunately it was as described, with waves starting to form up and then rounding over into uncatchable mush. Rarely an outside wave - set would be a misnomer, they were coming as random singles - would break more suitably, but if you weren't in position, and I wasn't, too bad and get ready to duck-dive. And despite the partial sunshine it was cold, with chilly water soon numbing my toes and a cool breeze. The wind chop was bobbing me around like a rubber duck in a kid's bath, and I'd forgotten to take Dramamine until I got to the beach, so it was only partly working. Ah, well, try again another day. Though it's been too long, I need a good ride.

The shorepound also makes getting out a bit scary, and I didn't time it just right. But I treated a fisher on the shore to one of my famous 360-degree board roll tricks before setting feet in the sand and running like hell to get to the dry beach before the next closeout crashed down in the shallows. Back in the dirt parking lot, another surfer summed it up perfectly: "Still just good to get wet."

15 October 2008

Sick and Surfless

Home sick today. No, actually sick, not faking to go surf. If it's any consolation, the swell had dropped a lot by this afternoon, which is the earliest I could've been on it. Now I have to wait for the weekend. Sigh. But here's a cool pic I found while web-surfing.

12 October 2008

Too Much Work, Not Enough Play

My work schedule this week is crazier than usual, with early meetings - one at 7 am! - precluding any dawn patrols. So after junky conditions this weekend transform into a nice swell with morning offshores early in the week, I'll be stuck indoors miles from the ocean. I plan to sneak away for a midweek late afternoon sesh though, and hopefully the waves will wait for me.

Meanwhile, here's some interesting stuff from Surfrider's blog.

08 October 2008

Linda Mar, 7 October 2008

Closed-out wall of whitewater

I met up with A at Linda Mar at barely dawn and brought my Xanadu and low expectations. Planning surf around work obligations had pushed my dp sesh this week from Monday to Tuesday, and then to Wednesday, when Surfline was calling for poor-fair and 4-7'. Still, it was just ahead of the predicted gusty winds, and I needed to get wet. Plus I wanted to finally surf with A, who's at about my level in shortboarding but whose schedule had never meshed with mine until now. Linda Mar didn't disappoint, offering up mostly unrideable waves much like the last time. And also like the last time, I didn't get lucky enough to catch one of the elusive shoulders, only managing to ride a little whitewater on the way in, blah.

One thing I realized (for at least the second time, guess I'm a slow learner) is that I need to be more patient in assessing conditions before I get in the water. By the time A and I were on the beach, I had less than a hour to surf, so with little evaluation, we plunged in for the paddle out. With still a ways to go to the lineup after a bunch of short-period duck dives (which A's about as good at as I am, meaning we both need more practice), I noticed an easier path, a gap in the walls of whitewater, about 30 yards to the left. So we belly-rode back to the beach, walked to the better spot, and got out quickly with only a few duck-dives. Next time, I'll take a few minutes to assess beforehand and not waste precious minutes. Although we did need the practice.

02 October 2008

38th-35th Ave, 2 October 2008

Update: Here is the only news I've found online; the comments fill in some additional details. And Surfline has this. More on Tuesday's memorial paddle out is here (scroll to bottom). R.I.P. Mike.

I think a surfer died at the Hook today. When I walked past on my way back to the car, an ambulance was open at the side of the road and a fire truck blocked the parking lot. The crowd on the clifftop was looking intently down the beach instead of at the surfers. From the overlook, I could see a guy on his back next to a surfboard, a paramedic kneeling in the sand beside him, rhythmically compressing his bare chest. Twenty-five minutes later, after I'd changed, there were half a dozen emergency vehicles on the scene, and they were just closing up the ambulance. They weren't hurrying, and the siren didn't blare as they pulled away.

I can't find anything on the news yet. Was it a heart attack? Did he hit his head on a rock and drown? What if it had been high tide, with the beach underwater and access tricky? Could it happen to me out there? It's not often we have to confront an example of our mortality. I do hope he died happy and stoked by a nice last ride.

After that, it seems a little strange, perhaps too trivial, to write about my surf session. So here's an abbreviated form. Oh, and full disclosure, the photos are all from the Hook.

New wetsuit and the Xanadu. Paddled out at 38th. Yellowed fishy-smelling scum patches on the water. Sea otters, SUPers, spongers, dude wearing only boardshorts. Crowded. Nice set waves going overhead but all taken. Non-set waves mushy and moundy, breaking wherever they damn well please. No good spot to sit away from the pack. Tried right, tried left, tried 3 blocks farther west. Sideshore breeze pushing east, so paddle paddle west. Back hurts, better go. Caught one on the way in, but slow and hesitant on the pop-up, blew it. Kept heading in - but wait, caught one back there! Turn around, paddle back out. Caught another, too far inside, whitewater but what the hell, popped up and rode it - yay! Better ending, time to go.

01 October 2008

No Bra Girls?

Last night I finished watching the Bra Boys DVD I got from Netflix. It's not the usual surf porn since it has an actual plot, focusing on the Bra Boys surf club from the hardscrabble Sydney neighborhood of Maroubra, in particular on the lives of the Abberton brothers. The "club" is a tight connection of disadvantaged boys, some grown into men, who with limited success avoid falling into crime and drugs by surfing.

I hadn't watched for very long when I was struck by the absence of girls and women. As an engineer, I'm used to being one of a few or even the only woman in a room, but this was notable. The surf footage was only of guys (not surprising in itself), and long shots of the club members posed at the beach showed a sea of only male faces. Other than "Ma," the elderly matriarch whose home was the de facto club house, plus a brief scene with a couple of grommet mothers and two girls playing pattycake, there were no females in the film. (I'm not counting the few seconds of a stripper and the faceless girl in the car during the shooting.) Can the Bra Boys' lives really be so male-centered, so focused on the brotherhood? Are there no gidgets in Maroubra who also want to surf the break in their backyard? Or is this just filmmaker bias?

Coming on the heels of making hotel reservations for our trip next month and finding Ms. unavailable as a title choice, I am wondering if I'll find Australia a more chauvinistic place than the US. And curious about what that would translate to on the water.

Cyclops... Koby Abberton is crazy to surf this wave.

26 September 2008

Governor Terminates Funds for Water Quality Monitoring

Schwarzenegger has decided that the people of Calee-for-nee-ah don't need to know if the water we surf in is polluted.

It's a "don't ask, don't tell" policy for the ocean. Surf at your own risk.

Better yet, do something about it! Surfrider has an Action Alert here. Go on, it'll take you less than two minutes.