02 September 2010

Sharkcifica (Linda Mar)

Darren was already in the water south of Taco Bell with just a few others when I arrived, and I saw him get a nice shoulder-high left. When I said I was regretting that I'd left my gloves in the car, he assured me (correctly) that my hands would numb up in a few minutes. After a short chat, I excused myself and paddled to the kiddie-pool end of the beach at Boat Docks; I needed smaller waves to knock the kook out of my shortboarding. There was no one else around initially, and I couldn't help thinking about the shark attack on a sea lion a few days ago, just outside the lineup right there in Pacifica. Nearby surfers had seen a lot of thrashing with bloody water thrown into the air, reportedly an 18-25 foot great white shark violently taking her lunch. (Yes, 18-25 feet! Several news organizations reported this statement completely uncritically, while my fast Wiki search revealed that if true, this was one of the largest sharks ever. Doesn't the media do even the most basic fact-checking anymore?!)

As I paddled alone across opaque waters still darkish in the new day, fingertips brushing seaweed, my shark-riddled thoughts turned to a dream I had last night, of coming to Linda Mar to surf but finding it infested with dozens of sharks, jumping and roiling the water, and hurling themselves out of the ocean to snap at people on the beach. When I sprinted away from the snapping jaws of an 18-25 footer, I woke up and looked at the alarm clock: almost time to get up to drive to Linda Mar for dawn patrol. On actual arrival, I saw no sharks, and took this as proof that there were none (as I must or I would have to stay on the beach). Fortunately, it seems many of the usual hordes haven't put the death of the sea lion behind them; the crowds stayed light as the sun rose in the sky.

Interestingly, Surfline's best board for today looks rather like the one I took out. I've been riding my 8'3" Magic hybrid longboard almost exclusively since I got it last December, and it's quite a switch dropping straight to my 5'8" Xanadu Rocky hybrid shortboard. My experience this morning was almost like starting over on the shortboard, but with an accelerated learning curve. At first I was a bit tippy just sitting in the lineup, my duck-dives were ineffectual, and my pop-ups were horrible, sloppy and too far back on the board. But soon I was catching whitewater and standing for milliseconds, then getting into the wave closer to the peak and riding a little longer. By the end, I managed a decent short ride. Yes!
With nothing on offer this weekend but more short-period windswell, I'm planning to concentrate on getting up to speed with the shortboard to be ready for winter. I think Magic has honed my surfing skills, but it's time to get back to driving a sports car. Zoom, zoom!

Surfline: 2-3 ft+ with fair conditions. Clean, peaky lines with some scattered, workable corners. Occasional slightly larger sets. Patchy coastal fog with light winds. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 6.6 ft at 9.1 s NW / WIND WAVE: 1.3 ft at 3.8 s WNW / WVHT: 6.9 ft / APD: 6.9 s / MWD: 315° / 07:00a PDT; (Met) WSPD: 8 kts / GST: 10 kts / WDIR: 310.0° / ATMP: 52.7° F / WTMP: 55.4° F / PRES: 1010.5 hPa / PTDY: +0.8 hPa / 06:50a PDT.


  1. Sharks are good if they give you emptier waves.....down here on the south coast 20 ft+ sharks were quite common once, when the whaling station was operational. Huge whales would be towed in with with massive bites out of their carcasses. I remember seeing them as a fascinated kid. We grew up with the 'shark siren' going off at the local swimming beach quite regularly. It was always a bit nerve-wracking if you were halfway between the jetty and the pontoon!

  2. Wow, a shark siren! That would be an unnerving reminder.

  3. Yes, you would think from that experience as a child I wouldn't be surfing now!