29 August 2008

Nude Surfing?!

Is the water really that warm north of San Diego? And what about surf rash?
[Photo] Dano Dickerson, 41, who surfs naked, wants a judge to keep the nude beach open. “I’ll be really bummed if they close it.”
Fear not, unbashful one:
Nude sunbathers can continue to use a secluded stretch of San Onofre State Beach, unless someone objects. Judge Sheila Fell of Orange County Superior Court ruled Wednesday that state parks officials could cite sunbathers and swimmers in the nude only if a private citizen complained.


...I want to surf half as well as this:
Malia Manuel of Hawaii wins the GO211 LIVE... at the Huntington Beach Pier on July 26.
Thanks to Sharkbait's blog for the link to cool surf pix.

27 August 2008

Linda Mar, 27 August 2008

This morning I met up with T for the first time at the crack o'dawn for a pre-work session. It was scheduled last-minute via email, and we ended up with mismatched boards, short and fish, but I'm not sure the Xanadu would've helped me any today.

Linda Mar was doing its usual thing, mostly closing out, with the occasional tempting shoulder. We had an easy paddle out via the channel north of the bathhouse*. Though we could see some of those shoulders from the beach, it was nigh impossible to track them down once we were in the water. The bigger set waves were walled up, head-high to slightly overhead. The smaller waves usually rounded into mush but were sometimes ridable. So we had to sit inside enough to potentially get the small ones, but then paddle out like mad or take a pounding when the big sets came. During one closeout encounter, I managed to smack my chin on my board - damn, thought I was past that! - but the 9:fish seems to made of tougher stuff than the Surftech and I didn't ding it, just myself.

T pulled off at least one ride on her shortboard, but Linda Mar didn't give me any of the wave-love I was pining for after Sunday's sesh. I caught one closeout but couldn't make the drop, and backed off on a lot more. That's one nice thing, of the many nice things, about a short board: it's so much easier to back off, when on a longer board I would've been sucked over the falls.

Usually it makes me a bit nervous when people in the lineup are pointing and staring in particular direction, but the object of attention turned out to be a dolphin. Always cool to see them, wild and free, going about their lives in the open ocean, and just yards away. Linda Mar is the only place I've seen dolphins since I moved to NorCal, so that's one reason to keep going back.

After T went in to head for work, I paddled south in hopes of better form. I could smell churros cooking at the Taco Bell, all cinnamon-sugary, mmm. But soon it was time for me to go too. I caught a smaller closeout and got to my feet (pop-up would be a misnomer) for a micro-ride. On such a beautiful, warm and sunny day, it was hard to leave the beach for the inside of a cubicle.

Guess the Joker wasn't such a hot surfer after all - he washed up at Linda Mar.

*Sounds so much nicer than "restrooms", doesn't it? But I have a major complaint for the City of Pacifica, which is responsible for maintaining them. Is there some reason why they have to be locked at 6 in the morning? Because there are people at the beach then, and some of them, especially me, would like to avail ourselves before surfing. And when the restrooms do open, apparently sometime before 8, why are they completely devoid of paper products? It's bad enough that the smell (when I forget to breathe through my mouth) makes me gag, and there isn't any soap, but c'mon. I don't always have time to drive to Starbucks to use their much nicer facilities. So please unlock 'em and stock 'em!

26 August 2008

Wanna Surf Cloudbreak?

Here's your chance:
Each year a group of us travel to Tavarua to surf Cloudbreak. This is a dream come true for surfers who get invited to join the group on the island. The week our group goes is in November the week after Thanksgiving. We have 8 open spots (read more).


Someone saw a shark in the ocean! Close the beach!!!
Marin County’s Stinson Beach was closed to swimmers and surfers after a great white shark was spotted Sunday night, according to national park officials. The shark, which was eight to 10 feet long, was seen about 7 p.m. about 125 yards from shore....

The nearby beach in Bolinas, however, is neither a county nor national beach and when it is posted with shark warnings, it is usually done by local town residents, a Marin County official said. The water at Bolinas was crowded with surfers on Monday, said workers at the 2 Mile Surf Shop, which also posted the shark warning on its morning surf report....

Beaches in the area of sightings are usually closed for five days, which is the length of time a shark tends to stay in an area to feed....

Peter Klimley of Petaluma, a shark behaviorist at UC Davis, said this is the time of year that great white sharks arrive on the North Coast to feed on seals and sea lions.... Klimley also said that a great white traveling on the surface is usually on its way somewhere and less of a threat than one submerged, which is how they hunt their prey. "I do think closing beaches is a good idea,” Klimley said.

Wait a minute - if visible sharks are less of a threat than the unseen ones, shouldn't you close the beaches when you don't see any sharks?!

Closed Stinson Beach is in the foreground of the photo, and open Bolinas is in the upper left, just across the lagoon. But no doubt the sharks will respect the boundaries.

On the opposite end of the fear spectrum, here's a crazy guy using a shark to tow in. Real or faked? Hmm...

25 August 2008

Surfer on Acid

A coworker shared this recipe at a normally dull meeting this afternoon. I don't know how it tastes, but I like the name.
The Surfer on Acid is one of those drinks that conjures up multiple, hilarious scenarios that may have led to the drink's naming. The coconut rum tames down the bite of the infamous Jägermeister that has become synonymous with the Jäger Bomb. This cocktail is a delicious, neat, tropical drink that is perfect for a summer day at the beach and popular enough that every bartender should include it in their repertoire.
  • 1 oz coconut rum
  • 1 oz Jägermeister
  • pineapple juice
Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

24 August 2008

Linda Mar, 24 August 2008

I should've gone surfing on Friday. There was a window in my schedule of other obligations, and there was swell. But I just couldn't muster the motivation to do dawn patrol, since I was depressed about about an awful perm I got on Wednesday. I just wanted some nice curls, is that too much to ask?! Instead, I got the opposite of curly: dry, flat, frizzy-tipped hair. It's remarkable how looking lousy can make you feel lousy, although my coworkers probably just thought I was having a bad hair day (more like the start of a bad hair month). Still, I should've forced myself to hit the beach, since undoubtedly it would have made me feel better. But after an emergency deep-conditioning treatment and haircut on Saturday (at a different salon, of course), I started jonesing for surf again. So when today came, I was determined to scour the coast for waves, any surfable waves, since - OMG! - it's been almost two weeks, and the closest I'd been to waves was in the Koi Pond on my iPod Touch. But the forecast had me thinking that a skunking was likely.

The early-season NW swell had dropped too much for Santa Cruz breaks to be over knee-high, so I set my sights on the Peninsula coast, with a morning start (but not too early) to beat the wind. Since Linda Mar is one of my least-favorite spots, though it looked most promising from the reports, I saved it for the end and drove by HMB first. The Jetty was tiny, with four beginners in the water, so I kept going. Just up the road, Montara was going head high, contrary to Surfline's forecast - too big and gnarly for the fish, and the scattered breaks along the beach were already filled.

So I thought I might as well see what Lindy was doing. The parking lot was jammed, but I lucked into an ocean-front, door-ding-safe parking space. The waves at the south end were waist-high+, much more suited to the fish, but the whole beach was as crowded as the parking lots. Still, the sun was starting to shine, and I spotted a gap with unridden shoulders. Time to suit up.

From the moment I reached the lineup, I quickly caught and rode every wave I paddled for: one, two, three. Nothing spectacular, but I got in some turns, maneuvering around the floating obstacles. I think I'm starting to like Linda Mar better, even in a pack, since I can outsurf the Soft-top crowd. So I was having a great session in the midst of the masses, but then on my way back to the lineup after the third ride, breathing hard after fast paddling and multiple duck-dives, I got splashed in the face unexpectedly and swallowed a mouthful of seawater. (Near the creek, but I don't want to think about the implications of that.) Uh-oh, because I hadn't eaten since my scrambled tofu breakfast three hours before. I've come to rely so much on the sea-sickness wristbands for protection from that scourge that I forgot I really should eat something shortly before I go out. Sadly, that one nasty gulp was enough to do me in. I tried to soldier through, even rested on the beach a while, but ended up too sick to my stomach to go out again. A walk on the beach with S sounded like a better idea. Still, even though it was short, the three-ride count was better than many much longer waveless sessions I've endured at Linda Mar. Sometimes a quickie can be good, and just what you need to restore the stoke.

Enough YouTube, here's my second attempt at video. Not sure why it won't play bigger; I'll have to look into that. I also need to figure out how to turn off sound recording. Or maybe start reciting poetry.

20 August 2008

18 August 2008

At Least Obama's Getting Some

Wouldn't it be awesome if the next President can bodysurf? But what's all the fuss about Obama taking his shirt off at the beach? Perhaps McCain still wears one of the modest bathing costumes fashionable in his youth. If he knew how to use the Internet, maybe he'd understand that most men bodysurf topless in tropical water.
The swell and my schedule just aren't meshing lately. It's going to be Friday morning at the earliest before I can get wet. Sigh.

15 August 2008


Aquaholics... that pretty much describes a lot of us. Here's the trailer for "a homegrown documentary about surfing in the Bay Area, 7 years in the making, featuring local surfing spots: Ocean Beach, Mavericks, Santa Cruz and a few secret spots in between." It's playing in the City early next month.

14 August 2008


For my birthday every year, I try to do 3 things:
  1. Play all day. Birthdays should always be holidays, fun instead of work.
  2. Surf. Because it's one of my favorite things, and a bad day surfing is better than a good day at work.
  3. Travel. Preferably someplace exotic, tropical, and with a nice beach, of course.
So this year, S and I will be spending the first two weeks of November in (drum roll, please)... Australia! We're flying from San Francisco to Sydney, a painfully long nonstop flight which will require some heavy sedatives. (14 hours in a tin can - OMG!) Since we cross the International Date Line, we'll skip over an entire day on the way there, but we get to repeat a day on the return trip - in fact we arrive home in the morning before we leave Sydney in the afternoon of the same day. Weird.

Noosa Heads long ago, before the crowds.

After four days exploring near Sydney, we'll fly to Cairns for a weekend to see the Great Barrier Reef. Then to Brisbane, where on my birthday (waves willing), I'll be surfing somewhere on the famed Gold or Sunshine Coasts. Maybe at Surfers Paradise or Noosa Heads or Maroochydore or Currumbin or Kirra or Snapper Rocks (gotta love the names). The last few days we'll be around Adelaide and I'll surf or at least touch the Indian Ocean for the first time.


A lot of Australians surf - 2 million out of a population of 20 million (the whole continent has 7 million people fewer than Tokyo) - and I've been warned that the weekend lineups near Sydney are as crowded as eastside Santa Cruz on a sunny summer Saturday. But on the bright side, that gives the great whites more choices on their floating buffet - and it will be a real test of the Shark Camo! But Whitey's not the only danger on the island. Deadly jellyfish make an appearance off of northern Queensland in the spring. (November is spring. It's a little hard to wrap my head around that.) And one of the main reasons few people surf the tropical northern regions is the presence of aggressive saltwater crocodiles, scary. Not to mention all the poisonous snakes (watch where you pee, guys). But it's a big country, and we're sticking to the east and south coasts, so hopefully I only have to worry about Whitey, same as here.

Australia seems a vast, less tamed, extraordinary place. I've always wanted to visit and am excited to go. Kangaroos, penguins, the biggest reef in the world. Plus those fabulous accents; I could listen to Australians talk all day. I can't wait!

11 August 2008

Linda Mar, 11 August 2008

Ah, Linda Mar, you disappoint so often, I have come to almost expect it. And today you did not disappoint that expectation. Why do I keep coming back? Is it the scenery? The shower that stays on long enough to rinse? Or that once there were dolphins in the lineup? I just don't know.

I arrived this time actually at dawn (easier when it's only a half hour drive), and there was only one guy in the water, sweet. But conditions were not so sweet, around 3' at the south end to nearly head-high toward the north, a short-period mixture of bowly mushburgers and crashing closeouts with the occasional promising shoulder. I paddled out first near Taco Bell where the crowd had swollen to two, timing it just right so only one duck-dive was required. The water seemed cold but the rising sun added a little warmth. I caught a couple waves but kept sliding off the back. I think maybe I need to force my weight more forward on the pop-up when they're rounding over like that.

After a while I decided to try my luck even farther south, and rode whitewater in to the beach, getting out too near the creek. Mmmm, creek water. I walked down the beach to near the end at the boat docks, where I've never surfed before. Since the rest of the beach is seaweed-free,
I was surprised to see kelp at that end. Turns out Boat Docks is the girl's break, or at least it was this morning, with the peak dominated by 3 female longboarders who were pretty good. Unfortunately I seem to have discovered a limitation of the fish, or maybe it's just my limitation until I get better on it. The wave size was sufficient, but the form was just too moundy, and I couldn't catch anything. I tried moving way inside of the longboarders, who were getting some nice long rides, but nada for me. Being so far inside though, of course it was inevitable that I'd get some duck-diving practice when a bigger set rolled through. After 5 in a row, I had a pounding ice-cream headache despite the hood. I stayed out a bit longer but then it was time to head in and go to work anyway. Which was hard, because after a couple weeks of unreasonably/unseasonably cool temperatures, summer has happily returned, and it was a gorgeous sunny morning.

08 August 2008

Tide Watches, Part III

This is hopefully the final chapter in my tide watch saga.

In Part II, I wrote about the Rip Curl Waikiki Oceantide, which comes with a plastic band designed to permanently discolor after mere weeks of normal wear. I was able to get my money back by disputing the charge with Visa after the seller, Big Blue Sun, refused to issue a refund. When I shipped the watch back to them at my expense, they refused to accept delivery and the watch was returned to me. But who wants a dirty-looking tide watch? Especially now that I have the much better-featured Freestyle.

While I'm still generally happy with the Freestyle 3.0G, I noticed soon after I got it that the low tides for Santa Cruz were running around 2 hours late. For example, here's June 28th:
Tide 3.0G
LO 3:02A 0.4FT
HI 7:32A 3.6FT
LO 2:08P 2.2FT
HI 6:38P 6.3FT

Surfline Steamer Lane
01:02 am 0.40 ft LOW
07:47 am 3.05 ft HIGH
11:47 am 2.35 ft LOW
06:36 pm 5.82 ft HIGH
I wouldn't expect them to be dead on, but 2+ hours is too much error. I had to prove my case to Freestyle's tech support guy using NOAA data, but finally he agreed it's likely a programming error with that particular location. He suggested I use Pismo Beach instead, but Ocean Beach is close enough especially as I also surf San Mateo County beaches (although rarely OB which is better with a buddy). The problem's been flagged to Freestyle's development team, so hopefully the next release of the watch will have accurate Santa Cruz tides. With all the surfers in this area, I'm surprised I was the first to point this out. But I seem to have a talent for finding software bugs, or maybe I somehow attract them. Like I attract mosquitoes.

06 August 2008

38th Ave, 6 August 2008

Dawn patrol, same place, different day. What can I say? If I had time to shop around, maybe I'd end up somewhere else, but as it is, I have to pick the (hopefully) best spot before I leave home. And in the case of dawn patrol, the destination is determined the night before.

Usually the caffeine buzz from my pre-dawn soy mocha wears off just about the time I get onto Highway 17. It's a curvy 4-lane road through wooded hills, with a concrete center barrier a foot from the yellow lane-line and a steep upslope next to the narrow shoulder. Sleepiness is not allowed as serious concentration is required when driving it, especially with few cars on the road and 172 hp under the hood of my MINI Cooper S. If I needed any reminder to stay alert, just over the crest of the mountain, flares blocked the right lane where a gray coupe had come to rest after smashing its corners into the barriers. It was at about the spot where a cop often waits for speeders, so the driver may have lucked out with quick assistance, although maybe he got a ticket in addition to a battered car.

Safely arrived at 38th, conditions looked smaller than the waist-chest forecast and inconsistent too. It seemed like a good opportunity to test just how small the waves could get before the fish couldn't catch them. And there were only 2 guys out. So I suited up. By the time I reached the lineup, there were 5. Then 9.. .11...13. Gotta drag my ass out of bed earlier, get there at dawn. Set the alarm for 4 am, 3:30? Ugh.

Almost immediately I caught a wave, around thigh-high, but blew the pop-up. Then there was a looong wait. On the next wave, I blew it again. Grrr. More waiting, and the crowd was filling in. I moved to the left end, inside of all the longboarders. When another set came, I paddled for the first couple, missed 'em, then found myself too far inside when their (slightly) bigger brothers showed up. Too impatient, bad positioning. So I got smarter. The next set came and I just sat there, watching the first party wave roll by. Wait. Then the second one. Wait for it. When the third wave came, the lineup near me had cleared out, and I was in the right place at the right time to get a nice ride. Woo hoo! I could feel the kelp grabbing at my fins and it slowed me down but didn't throw me. Then I turned around and did it again on the next set - yay! Nothing like a little kick of dopamine to get the day started right.

There were a scary lot of pelicans fishing nearby, enough to dissuade me from paddling under them to get closer to Pleasure Point. At a more deserted spot, I wouldn't have gone in the water (unless the waves were really really good). Supposedly when birds are fishing, the Man in the Grey Suit is out fishing too.

04 August 2008

38th Ave/Pleasure Point, 1 August 2008, Part II

Thanks to GoPro for quickly sending me a free replacement computer cable for my Digital Hero camera. I wish all companies had customer service like that!

On the water shots from last Friday's dawn patrol.

01 August 2008

38th Ave/Pleasure Point, 1 August 2008

I was hoping this morning's dawn patrol would be a repeat of Monday's, but instead of cool and misty, the day broke sunny and warm. Also unlike Monday, Surfline forecast Fair-Good and the report (posted while I was on the road) urged "Go surf!" On top of all that and unbeknownst to me, there was a surf-with-the-pros event for kids starting at 8 am at the Hook. Still, I arrived early enough to beat the worst of the crowds.

Today was not a good day for photography.
The high-res land camera's battery died after 3 shots;
it doesn't display battery status until there's no charge left.
I took a bunch of pix in the lineup with the waterproof camera;
now I've lost the computer cable and can't download them,
but GoPro is mailing me a new one - free!

I paddled out about the same place as Monday, but with the number of surfers on it already, I wasn't getting much. And on the first wave I caught, I somehow tripped over my own foot when I popped up, and blew it. After about half an hour a bigger set (shoulder-high) rolled in, and I was caught inside for more duck-diving practice. I decided to try a less crowded spot I'd seen from the cliff (the empty wave in the photo), and paddled closer to the Point. There were only a couple longboarders on that break, but the waves kept mushing out, and even they were having trouble snagging them. As I paddled for one, a guy six feet to my right yelled "go, go!" so I caught it, but he did too, and in trying to go left on the wave, I oversteered into a faceplant. It's unfortunately not an uncommon maneuver for me, but I think I finally realized that I'm straightening my legs too much, losing control and the feel of the board. Keeping that in mind should help me avoid it in the future.

The tide was coming off a negative low, so a lot of reef was exposed. Kelp was everywhere, and it seemed like it was out to get me. It held me back as I paddled, and on one duck dive I got a face full of kelp, then a heavy strand wrapped around my neck. Ugh.

With just a few minutes left before I had to head to shore and on to work, I caught another wave, all mine. I turned left under control and rode until it petered out - stoked!!