22 August 2009

Four Mile, 22 August 2009

Another south swell started building in yesterday, and I was looking forward to catching some lefts this morning. A little surf posse coalesced, including L, J, S2 and me. We met up at Gazos Creek and did a surf check at a secret spot (big and a bit blown), then kept heading down the coast in search of something better. We checked a second secret spot (huge closeouts)... and Waddell (packed)... and a third secret spot (meh)... then thought about checking yet another secret spot well off the road - but a few of us had had enough searching and just wanted to get wet already! Almost from the start, J seemed to have her heart set on Four Mile, her favorite and frequent break. So we drove south some more, nearly to Santa Cruz, then geared up and hiked in without so much as a look-see from the bluff across the highway.

I hadn't been to Four Mile since my old surf buddy D moved to SoCal almost two years ago, but it was much as I remembered. A pretty spot, but crowded; a couple dozen people were in the water. The aggro surfer who maligned me on a past visit has been replaced by a pack of white trash in beach chairs at the base of the cliff, who drink beer and holler at the surfers. This does not improve the ambiance. Unfortunately our long surf safari had delayed us until the tide was getting close to a high, and the break wasn't working well. I saw J get a nice ride, but the wave count for S2, L and me was 2, 1, 0. The spot needed less water and less crowd. And maybe swell from a different direction. According to Surfer Mag's Guide to NorCal Surf Spots, "at least one local surfer contends that Four Mile 'sucks piehole on a south swell, mushier than a plate of whipped potatoes.'" Yep. Shoulda tried secret spot #4 instead.

The one consolation - aside from seeing a dolphin - is that I had a chance to play with my new waterproof camera, a Pentax Optio W80, and try out the surf camera case in undemanding point break conditions. The upper chest-mounted case works fairly well, although its tightness makes it hard to insert and remove the camera. Attaching the case required poking two holes through my wetsuit so I'd tried it on an old one first, but last year's suit is so leaky I honestly couldn't tell if the new holes were contributing. I had the camera's video resolution on a medium setting, supposedly "suitable for viewing on a computer," which I obviously need to increase for next time. On the current settings, zooming all the way in made the picture badly pixelated. The color also looks off, although I'm sure there's an adjustment for that to be found somewhere in the 270-page manual. But I didn't have any trouble using the control buttons while wearing gloves, and the large LCD screen was easy see. Once the kinks are out, I think the setup will work well. And the case has a window, so I'll be able take hands-free video while I surf - waaay cool.

Meanwhile, though it's always nice to get wet, I am seriously jonesing to ride some waves!

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