01 May 2010

Close Encounters (Cowells)

April showers may bring May flowers, but May brings wind. It's been screaming from the northwest for days, with no real end in sight. That means a run for the shelter of the north end of Monterey Bay, where the coastline curves like the top of a reverse "C" to block the nefarious winds. But there's no way to hide from the upwelling of chilly water pulled from the depths by days of strong steady wind, and the water was c-c-c-old.

I met up with Luke and Beth near Cowells, and finally the original Petty surfboard got to meet its clone. We were joined by Laurie, who they'd picked up along the road to save her a walk with her rental board, and I figuratively bumped into Mike for the first time on the water. Our little crew added to the crazy masses at the break on a sunny Saturday. Periodically the best waves would be seized by a "train" consisting of a disabled person and a surfer on a modified super-longboard, plus a gaggle of other green-shirted surfers yelling encouragement (see the video). And of course the surf schools were out in force for a while, but I got a lot of good rides sitting inside of them and taking the waves they frequently missed.


In almost 2.5 hours I got countless rides, many of them long, and a few particularly fine from the outside connecting to an inside reform all the way in with some nice shoulder time. On one of these, a boy was standing in the shallows with his kook board, stationary like a deer in the headlights. If the wave had broken a second later I would've been well clear of him down the line, but when the whitewater knocked me off, my board ended up near him in the water. He said he was OK and I started back out, but his father, who had been nowhere close, came running after me as best he could in waist-deep water, hollering that I shouldn't surf "right at a little kid and ditch my board" and that I should look where I was going instead of at my feet (which I wasn't). To which I replied, "How could you know where I was looking? I'm wearing sunglasses." I explained and apologized, but he wasn't listening, and kept ranting at me. I realized that the guy was a garbage truck (read about it here), so I smiled, said have a nice day and told his son that I hoped he'd catch a lot of waves, then paddled away.

Unfortunately that was not the only bad parent encounter. With the crowd, I sometimes had to call people off with a loud "HEY!" (and quietly to myself, "this is my wave!"), and for the most part I didn't get dropped in on. But when I was riding a rare left, I saw a kook kid going for my wave, though my expectation of him making it was so small I didn't call out. Then I felt/heard a knock on the back of my board, and I was in the water. A quick inspection showed no apparent damage to Magic (phew!). I told the kid and his mother that he'd dropped in on me and his board had hit mine. She asked if it was OK, then said "that happens all the time at Cowells on a Saturday" and I should go surf someplace else if I had a problem with it. WTF?! I pointed out that the rules of etiquette still apply (I should have said especially at a crowded break), and told her to have a nice day, too. Just like bad Dad (hmm, maybe they're married to each other), she kept ranting as I moved away. When I reached Beth, who'd seen the incident, she told me the woman had pushed her son into me. Oh, yeah right, lady, that was somehow my fault?! I take it back; I hope you have a lousy day.

I tried to leave all that misplaced parental garbage with its owners near the beach and paddled back to the lineup for some more great waves. But too soon, the cold water had numbed my feet almost completely and chilled my body through my leaky old wetsuit. I rode one more in, picked up my repaired wetsuit at Hotline (kudos for the under-a-week turnaround), and rendezvoused with Luke, Beth and Laurie for Mexican food, a great post- great-surf lunch.

Surfline: Slow fading SW Southern Hemi swell with NW windswell for exposures. 2-3 ft occ. 4 ft, fair to good conditions. Clean, workable lines staying fun on the low tide. Occasional + sets, light NW wind. Buoy 46012: 7.2 ft @ 10 sec.

7 comments:

  1. I think your red helmet has a Fiberglass and Epoxy Magnet in it.

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  2. There are just so many people surfing now, I reckon soon there will be no-one left on land. It sucks when you go for a cruisey surf and you get this sort of agro....but sounds like you still managed to get a lot of good rides.

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  3. The sad thing is those boys will probably grow up into aggro surfers with as little respect for others and the code of conduct as their parents.

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  4. What is your definition of a "kook" board??

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  5. Kook board (n): A surfboard used almost exclusively by beginning surfers, made of foam or having a soft rubbery top surface.

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  6. Yeah, and I call the 'soft-tops' - 'pigs' - because if you have tried one, you may as well be surfing a pig! I don't get why they give crap boards to people learning to surf when it's hard enough to learn already.

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  7. My first lesson was on a waterlogged 10' foamie. It was such a plank I was guaranteed to stand up - which meant I caught the stoke immediately. But then I bought a real board.

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