31 January 2009

SF Ocean Film Fest

Best trailer from one of the offerings at the upcoming San Francisco Ocean Film Festival:

Other films include Attack of the Sea Slugs, Pirate for the Sea on Sea Shepard's Paul Watson, and Call it Home: Searching for Truth on Bolinas Lagoon. Ironically, the opening Festival event is a seafood feed in an aquarium.

28 January 2009

Kelly Ave, 28 January 2009

"The cure for anything is salt water - sweat, tears, or the sea." -Isak Dinesen

Not a cure, but it helps.

21 January 2009

Surfer Girl

Makes me want to chuck it all, move to France and sleep on the beach...

18 January 2009

Sunshine, Bombs & Naked People

Today was just too nice to surf. It was t-shirt and shorts, barefeet-in-the-sand weather, a January Sunday so warm, sunny and offshore that every summer weekend warrior within 100 miles of the coast descended on the handful of breaks that weren't scary huge. Heavy sigh. So instead, S and I hiked the scenic Montara mountain trail from the main beach to Gray Whale Cove.

Montara was running more that double-overhead, mostly closing out but with some barrels seeming big enough to drive a truck though. We could hear the powerful surf from the trail, crashing with loud booms into rocks and sand.

I was surprised to find that Gray Whale Cove is a nude beach. One guy was fishing clad only in his permit. Sorry, no pictures.

11 January 2009

Dunes, 11 January 2009

Sunny and 70 degrees in January! Gotta love California for serving up a fine summer day in the middle of winter.

This year I broke down and bought a Golden Poppy Annual Day Use Pass that covers parking at the HMB State Beaches. I realized I've been avoiding Dunes, Kelly and the rest of those breaks, just because I didn't want to have to hassle with filling out a form and paying $7 each time. Now I have no excuse not to surf there, and it's opened up the possibilities whenever I make the half hour drive west.

Venice Beach was closing out a lot, with some head-high+ smashers, and there was a little pack of surfers on it besides. So S and I continued up the road to nearby Dunes, which was much less populated and showing a few shoulders from time to time.

I had no luck on the first peak which had 2 guys on it (they weren't getting any either), so when after a while I got caught inside, I decided to head in and walk north to an empty break that had also looked promising from the bluff. That spot was closing out too, but had a left running along the edge that I though I could make. I landmarked the spot on a rock formation in the bluff and headed out. Though I barely had time to notice between duck-dives, I soon found there was a serious sideshore running south, making it difficult to reach the chosen spot and pushing me into the stacked-up closeouts. I was getting tired and my duck-dives with the shortboard were not so pretty as with the fish, but I think now I understand why. The Xandadu is lighter and longer than the fish, and I need to push it down harder to get deep enough under the waves. Once I took that into account, the duck-dives went better. Still, I was getting discouraged and almost turned back to shore, but then I thought of the immortal words of Galaxy Quest's Commander, "Never give up, never surrender!" and I kept trying. When I finally made it to the outside, I'd been pushed quite a bit south of my target and had to paddle back to it, only to start quickly drifting south again.

It looked like the second spot would give me no joy either, but then I paddled once more for a wave, silently cheering myself on ("You're going to get it. You are going to get this wave!"), and I caught it, popped up imperfectly but well enough, made the short drop and stayed on it as the wave closed out and then fizzled over the trough. Yes! Thank you, Commander Taggert, for your wise words.

08 January 2009

Surfless with Sea Lions

After a frenetic day at work, S and I trekked down to westside Santa Cruz to pick up my repaired shortboard at the only local authorized Surftech repair shop, Advanced Surfboard Repair (a.k.a. Pat's Ding Repair). This was my second "professional" repair, and I'm beginning to despair of finding anyone who can do the work to my perfectionist cosmetic standards. The color is off - a lighter shade of gray - and there are speckles of overspray around the patch, which is slightly rough and doesn't match the gloss finish. Sigh. Given the damage I did to my mouth when I bit the board, I was really hoping not to see a reminder everytime I surf.

Swell and schedule did not mesh this week, and both my surfing windows passed unused. It was too big and gnarly yesterday morning in San Mateo County, so I wanted to hit the Westside after picking up the shortboard. Alas, the swell had dropped, packing the pros onto the main peak at the Lane with nothing spilling over toward Indicators. If I'd had a longboard, I could have joined the throngs catching long rides at Cowells, but the ankle- to knee-high waves were far to small for the Xanadu. And with darkness falling in an hour, there was no time to drive elsewhere. Damn the short days!

Instead, S and I took a walk from the Lighthouse to the end of the Wharf and watched another pretty sun set. There were a lot of sea lions about, in the water with flippers in the air, and hauled out on the pier supports. Even though I didn't get to surf, I still feel lucky to live in such a beautiful area.

But I still want to surf. Soon.

06 January 2009

HangAir Wetsuit Dryer Review

My mom saw the HangAir Wetsuit Dryer on my Amazon wishlist and wanted to get it for me, but since she doesn't quite have the hang yet of online ordering, she sent me a check and told me to buy it. Drying my 5/4 is about a two-day process, and I thought it would be great to speed that up to mere hours.

Unfortunately, the HangAir is another surfing product designed for men only, and large men at that. The unit is enormous, with giant linebacker shoulders formed of hard plastic. Consequently, it just is not physically possible to insert the HangAir into the neck opening of my zipperless-entry women's size 2 wetsuit. Yes, this is the same opening that accomodates my entire body, but the inflexible HangAir portion that needs to fit through it is several inches greater in circumference than my hips. Although I can hang my warm-water zipper-entry suits from this device, I'd be concerned about shortening their lifespan by overstretching the shoulders while using it. Unless you're built like a football player, don't waste your money on a HangAir.

Not going to happen, my friend.

05 January 2009

Trunq Surf Box Review

Santa forgot a few things on my list, so I had to buy them myself. One was a Trunq Sport Utility Box. I've been using ~$10 plastic bins from Target to transport my wetsuit and other surf gear, but they don't last long before tabs break off, etc. So I was feeling guilty about using all that plastic, and looking for something more durable.

The Trunq was designed for the purpose by surfers and seemed a good choice. It's a bit more compact than the plastic bin I was using, but my 5/4 wetsuit, towel/changing robe and other stuff fit with no wasted space. It includes a tray to organize the little crap, and also a changing mat. And the Trunq is made of heavy-duty recycled plastic, sturdy enough to sit on. It's a good deal more expensive than the cheap bins from Target, but should pay for itself by far outlasting them. One drawback of that sturdiness is that the Trunq is considerably heavier than a cheapo bin.

Unfortunately, the Trunq was designed by male surfers without thought for the other half of the population, some of whom surf as well. The latch is meant to open by pushing two tabs together, but for a surfer girl like me or a smaller guy, this has to be a two-hand operation. Rather a pain when they could have just put the tabs closer together.

Other than that, after my first use during a sunset session at the Jetty, I'm fairly satisfied. I plan to put non-skid liner in the tray to keep things from rolling around during the drive. The changing mat easily rinsed clean of the unpaved parking lot's mud and sand, but didn't provide enough insulation against the cold ground, so next time I'll try out the lid's durability by standing on it instead. A smaller capacity in the box meant less water was needed to rinse the wetsuit, so that's another environmental plus. Overall, I recommend the Trunq but hope for a redesign of the latch in the future.

HMB @ Jetty, 4 January 2009

Aside from the splendid sunset, the Jetty was not so awesome this time. There was a bit of a crowd despite the 3-4' waves being disorganized and poorly shaped, and I got only a couple micro-rides on closeouts. But S was watching from the breakwall and saw me duck dive a wave in unison with a nearby surfer. He was pushed halfway back to shore, while I resurfaced at my original location. Yes!! Not only are my duck dives feeling right more often, they are right! But the real test is yet to come against some bigger and more powerful short-period waves. I hope the practice pays off.

04 January 2009

Mavericks Exhibit in Redwood City

Update 1/4/09: S and I finally checked out this exhibit before seeing The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Both disappointed, the movie for having a plot element I've always detested (lovers get in the way of their own happiness, wasting years of their lives staying apart for reasons that shouldn't matter), and the Mavs exhibit for being so small and insubstantial. I had hoped for a bit more content, and looking out the window to imagine the drop (pic at right) just made me think about how I'd be about to die if my board was at that angle at the top of the wave. The exhibit is in a tiny room dominated by a fiberglass barrel which holds the most interesting feature, a video game in which you stand on a board to "surf" Mavericks on a screen displaying a pixelated view of Pillar Point from offshore. I wiped out a couple of times before I realized the game must have been designed by a non-surfer, since the board steered more like a snowboard than a surfboard; I needed all my weight on my front foot to turn. Then I managed to nail a ride through the rocks to the cheering finish before a gaggle of groms took over the room.
Now at the San Mateo County History Museum:

Just off the coast at Pillar Point near Half Moon Bay in San Mateo County is Maverick’s -- where 40-feet high thunderous waves draw the best big-wave surfers from all over the world. The exhibit showcases the history of Maverick's, a glossary of surfing terms, videos of surfers riding the Maverick's and some "memorable" quotes.

The highlight of the Maverick’s Exhibit will be the Waverider, a multi-sensory game interface where daring visitors can take a virtual ride …or wipe-out.

40-Foot Wave:
Step on a surf board and look out the second floor window of the exhibit to the plaza below. You are standing about 40 feet above the ground, the height of waves at Maverick's.

01 January 2009

HMB @ Jetty, 1 January 2009

Jetty. Awesome. Again.
Not as clean as last time, but still fun. I had a couple great rides out of a bunch, on a fine sunny day. And nothing like duck-diving in cold water to clear a hangover. (The chop and backwash...not so much.)