31 October 2010

Happy Halloween (Linda Mar)

The perfect wetsuit for surfing on Halloween
Linda Mar was offering up lots and lots of small fun waves this morning. Quite a few even had short shoulders, and the high tide was forging the usual pitching closeouts into gentle mush. It was crowded of course, but I found a peak between Taco Bell and the bathrooms that gave me enough room to play. It helped that a lot of folks were sitting far outside, waiting for the bigger sets, plus there were many kooks not catching anything. More for me!

I got so many rides that when it was almost time to go, instead of thinking my usual "OK, just one more," I bumped it up to "just five more," and then added a bonus 6th wave. Happy Halloween!

Surfline: 2-3 ft+. Mostly clean, but shape stays pretty soft/sectiony overall. Expect the occasional shoulder that stays semi-workable to the inside. WNW (270-305) energy continues to fade today as small Southern Hemi swell mixes in. Semi-clean waist-shoulder high surf is fairly common early on. Wind is currently light out of the S. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 4.6 ft at 11.4 s WNW / WIND WAVE: 1.0 ft at 3.7 s SSW / WVHT: 4.6 ft / APD: 7.4 s / MWD: 282°

29 October 2010

Friday Night Rights and Lefts (Capitola)

I really wanted Capitola to be working today. I'm not sure why. Maybe I was feeling lazy and in need of a mellow sesh, without worrying about getting in and out on slimy, inundated stairs at one of the other Eastside breaks on a high tide. Or maybe it was just because I hadn't surfed there in a while.
Happily, my wish was granted. There were notable lulls and the waves were a little shifty and sometimes doubled up, but on the sets they were shoulder- to head-high. Though the crowd swelled as the after-work crew filled in, I still got a bunch of rides, both rights and lefts. The drops were fun, and I'm glad I managed not to land on a polite tween boy in a holey wetsuit who kept planting his ill-suited shortboard directly in my path.
My best waves were a few head-high lefts, swooping with a woo-hoo down the unsteep drop, once slotting between the aforementioned tween and a couple of grayhairs, into a fast fun ride. The set waves had punch, and I worked them through a slow section into another drop, riding in close to the base of the cliff. Stoked!

Surfline: 2-3 ft. Sizeable new WNW swell builds further this afternoon, mixing with some leftover WNW and South swell energy. Most breaks see solid shoulder-head high+ surf, with sets running 2-3'+ overhead at top WNW exposures, nearing double overhead at times. Conditions are mostly clean, although a bit jumbled at the most openly exposed breaks. Look for our new WNW swell to peak through the afternoon and start to back off slightly. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 12.1 ft at 13.8 s WNW / WIND WAVE: 2.3 ft at 5.3 s SSW / WVHT: 12.1 ft / APD: 10.6 s / MWD: 295°

27 October 2010

Salty Rain (HMB Jetty)

Working late last night gave me a pass to get into work late this morning, so I took the opportunity for one more dawn patrol before they again muck with the clocks and turn off Daylight Savings Time in a couple weeks. The sky doesn't brighten until after 7 am right now, too late to surf and still make work by a respectable hour. Happily today I didn't need to rush.

J-Bird was going to meet me at the Jetty, but she and Jacob, stuck in traffic, decided Rockaway would be better. I had more time this morning, but not that much more, so I stayed put, although the Jetty waves looked small and lackluster. If Highway 1 southbound wasn't stop-and-go, I'd have checked out Roosevelt or Kelly.
I wouldn't have minded a solo session, but a few others though it was worth a go.
It turned out that the waves were bigger than they looked empty from shore, about chest- to head-high, but mixed up, and sometimes making sudden changes of direction. The mid-high tide wasn't mushing out the waves, and the drops were steep. I got a few short rides with fun drops, but then someone turned on the wind machine, and it started blowing hard offshore. When a large closeout crashed down at my back, the spray fell all around me like a heavy downpour of salty rain. With the stiff breeze blowing in my face, I had trouble making it over the lip and even getting enough speed to catch waves. Once, as I scooted back on my board, swinging the nose up to turn around, the wind pushed it so hard I tumbled off into the water. And I wasn't the only surfer in the lineup who did that. (It does look quite funny!)

I stayed out longer than I should've, trying for one more good ride, but it was not forthcoming. On the way home, two deer were grazing next to the busy road in a residential area, adding to my wildlife count for the cold, clear morning, which included two harbor seals (or the same one twice).

Surfline: W-WNW (270-310) swell eases further as some small S-SE (170-190) swell continues to mix in. Most breaks are seeing surf in the chest-shoulder-head high+ zone, as top W-WNW exposures are seeing head high to well overhead+ surf, with some occasional sets still pushing double overhead. The tide will slowly build through the morning. Winds are light/variable offshore early for mostly clean conditions across the region. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 7.9 ft at 11.4 s WNW / WIND WAVE: 1.6 ft at 4.8 s WNW / WVHT: 8.2 ft / APD: 8.7 s / MWD: 300°

21 October 2010

Kelp Slalom (38th Ave)

Although the late afternoon low tide was probably perfect for Cowells, westside Santa Cruz has been taken over for an entire week by the Coldwater Classic surf contest. Grrr. So we ended up doing the kelp slalom on the eastside.
Luke brought the latest addition to his quiver, a 7'0" Ward Coffey, a remarkable $75 Craigslist find. It's probably similar to the custom board Ward is shaping for me right now, although I think a bit narrower, so I was eager to try it out and swapped him for my 8'3" as soon as he joined me and J-Bird in the lineup. I caught a few short rides with it, and I can't wait to get mine - it's going to be fun!
Pleasure Point from the water at 38th Ave
Back on Magic, I got a lot of long fun rides, both lefts and rights. J-Bird and I shared one right, while Luke paddled his new stick all the way to Pleasure Point to try for some bigger waves. The water was so clear that I had a fascinating glimpse of the world beneath the waves as I flew over the kelpy reef, turning to avoid the thickest clumps of seaweed. As I paddled back out after a nice left, a harbor seal popped up 10 feet away and stared at me with wide eyes before ducking under a wave.

We stayed out until the sun set and it was getting hard to see the surf. Had the clouds parted to let the nearly full moon shine down, the session might've gone longer, although a light breeze was chilling in the dim twilight.

Surfline: A fun sized mix of holding mid period and new/building NW swell is on offer this afternoon as some minimal SW-SSW swell mixes in. Most breaks are good for waist-chest-head high surf, with top exposures pulling in some overhead+ sets. Winds remain light offering up mostly clean conditions as the tide heads for a 4:30pm low. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 6.6 ft at 14.8 s NW / WIND WAVE: 1.0 ft at 2.9 s SSE / WVHT: 6.6 ft / APD: 9.8 s / MWD: 314°

17 October 2010

Sunrise Service (HMB Jetty)

Attendance was sparse for the sunrise service at the Church of Surf, just me near the front and a couple of dolphins in the back pew.
Today's sermon: When life seems mixed up, your troubles are doubling up and washing back at you, and opportunities are closing out, you can still find a shoulder to lean on and something to make you smile.

Surfline: Mix of holding short-mid period NW swell and holding SSW groundswell. Look for waist-head high+ surf at good NW exposures and waist-shoulder occasional head high sets at good SSW exposures. Peaky for beachbreaks with a good balance to the swell combo. Cleanest early. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 6.6 ft at 10.0 s WNW / WIND WAVE: 2.3 ft at 4.8 s NW / WVHT: 6.9 ft / APD: 6.6 s / MWD: 298°

15 October 2010


Trash and a dead seagull at the waterline
Water is the essential element for a surfer. It is the canvas on which we express ourselves, carving the faces of waves formed by distant winds. The ocean can be playful but also dangerous, and requires our full concentration, driving away the worries and cares we shoulder on land. Each wave is unique, as is each rider's dance upon it. The stoke we receive from this close interaction with the ocean cannot be fully understood by those who have never experienced it. We come to crave this contact with the sea, and when there is no swell, or land obligations prevent us from surfing, we get cranky and talk of our gills drying out or needing to dip our mermaid tails in the sea. The drive to surf becomes a hunger, a deep need ranking high as something we require to nurture our souls, fulfilled only by more time on the water.

Ouflow from an abalone farm
But the same ocean waters that give us such pleasure can also do us harm. They may harbor invisible pathogens that cause illnesses such as gastroenteritis, hepatitis, and MRSA. While some localities test beach water quality, reporting is often spotty or untimely, so surfers usually will not know whether the water is unsafe at their break. Health officials advise that contact with ocean water should be avoided for 72 hours following rain to lessen the risk of contacting potentially contaminated runoff. But if the swell is good, and we are jonesing for surf, this is hard advice to follow. It also seems a vague standard, since much will depend on the amount of rain, whether it is the first rain of the season, and the sources of runoff at the particular location. If we could know for certain, most of us would be deterred, but without concrete information, we may gamble that the water is clean.

The water that made me sick
In seven years of surfing, I've avoided the water for a few days after the first heavy rain in the fall, but have sometimes surfed in the rain or in water that was visibly murky from runoff. Only once was I laid low by gastroenteritis, a case of Montezuma's revenge without the surf trip to Mexico. The longboarders' wave at Cowells beach in Santa Cruz is marred by a drainage pipe spilling runoff onto the beach. Although it hadn't rained very recently, those waters were contaminated and sickened me earlier this year.

Horse and manure on the beach
Agriculture and recreational use of animals are additional sources of local water pollution. Farms dot the lonely rural coastline between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz, raising cattle, abalone, strawberries and other produce. There are also several horse rental facilities located close to Half Moon Bay State Beach, which runs for miles along the crescent-shaped bay. I have to hope that their wastewater is properly contained. At the southern end of the state park, horses are allowed on the beach, where they deposit feces that are only removed when rain or tide wash them into the ocean. It mystifies me that dog guardians are required to clean up after even the tiniest chihuahua, yet horse riders are not responsible for the much larger piles dropped by their animals. Does the American infatuation with romanticized notions of our western cowboy past create an exemption for manure? It's unlikely that horse dung is somehow safer than dog poop, acceptable in sand used to build castles before a picnic and in water used for swimming and surfing. Believe it or not, there are actually horse diapers available, or perhaps the rental businesses could send out a worker with a shovel to clean up messes. We shouldn't have our shoreline and ocean fouled by a canter along the sand.

Garbage floating in Pillar Point Harbor
My home break is the Jetty at the north end of Half Moon Bay, where plans are underway to dredge the adjacent Pillar Point Harbor and dump the extracted sand over the breakwall to replenish the beach. This is a temporary solution to the erosion of local beaches and the silting of the harbor caused by the creation of a network of protective riprap walls half a century ago. While some say the harbor sediments are safe and will not harm surfers once deposited at our break, I'm skeptical. I've seen what irresponsible boaters dump overboard, and fifty years is a long time to accumulate toxins in a busy harbor.

The water we surf in may be contaminated by runoff, waste or other toxins, but when we paddle hard to catch a wave, pop to our feet quickly and make the drop down the face, that's the last thing on our minds.

This post is in support of Blog Action Day, an annual event that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day with the aim of sparking a global discussion and driving collective action.

11 October 2010

Dessert (Steamer Lane)

For my fifth surf session in four days, I feasted on the sweet sweet waves of westside Santa Cruz in the warm afternoon sun. I can't believe Huntington Beach has the audacity to claim the mantle of "Surf City USA" over Santa Cruz. I've never surfed HB, but there's no way a mere beach break can compare with the fine quality waves served up by the myriad of kelp-groomed point and reef breaks at the northern end of Monterey Bay.
The Point looked really fun with set waves a foot or two overhead, but it was packed. Cowells wasn't breaking, although I'm sure it turned on later when the tide dropped. Middle Peak was just right, shoulder- to head-high with a light crowd. After a quick but high wave-count session with Nikki, I dashed over to Arrow Surf Shop to drop off Magic for repairs. Hope she's back soon; I'll miss her.

Surfline: WNW swell mix continues to build as new SSW swell also slowly creeps up. Better breaks see mainly waist-chest-shoulder high surf, with a few larger sets for top exposures running head high to slightly overhead. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 9.8 ft at 11.4 s NW / WIND WAVE: 3.9 ft at 5.3 s NW / WVHT: 10.8 ft / APD: 7.9 s / MWD: 308°

10 October 2010

Jumbled (HMB Jetty)

The swell had picked up again by this morning, and I met J-Bird, Jacob and Darren at the Jetty for a long session. As we surfed, a thick fog slowly parted to bright sunny skies.
The waves were jumbled, doubled- and even tripled-up at times. I rode a couple of fun long lefts and caught a batch of meh waves that quickly closed out or dumped me in a crash. One beautiful head-high left was lost (damn!) when my left hand slipped off on the pop-up; I was gloveless and somehow the wax had disappeared just from that side of my board, perhaps melted in the recent heat. Maybe I'll try sticking a little piece of wax in my keypocket from now on, just in case. Or make sure I'm thoroughly covered before I paddle out, duh.

Cold, tired and hungry, we caravaned to It's Italia for a tasty but slow-serviced lunch. Funny how food always tastes better when you're lightly salted from the ocean.

Surfline: New WNW (280-300) swell builds through the day as small SW swell continues to mix in. Dense coastal fog is making it impossible to get a good look at the surf this morning. Expect better breaks to see generally chest-shoulder-head high surf, as top exposures pull in some occasional larger sets. Winds are steady out of the NW making for mostly jumbled surf. Look for a 6.5'+ high tide to swamp things out by late this morning, peaking just before 1pm. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 7.2 ft at 12.9 s WNW / WIND WAVE: 3.3 ft at 5.6 s NW / WVHT: 7.9 ft / APD: 7.7 s / MWD: 289°

09 October 2010

My First Custom Surfboard: Enhanced Mini-Magic

My surfing has greatly improved since I got Magic a year ago, but I still have a dream to eventually be a shortboarder, and 8'3" is starting to feel too long at times. I tried my 5'8" Xanadu Rocky hybrid shortboard again recently, and it's a big step down from the longboard. I need a transition board, something in between, to help me get smaller more gradually without sacrificing wave count.

So this afternoon I spent an hour with Santa Cruz shaper Ward Coffey, who was recommended with rave reviews by several friends. Although Magic was shaped by Bob Pearson at Arrow Surf Shop, it's an exact clone of Luke's wife's surfboard, so he didn't need to put any thought into designing it. My new board will be truly custom, shaped with my size, skills and goals in mind.

Ward asked me to bring in all three of my surfboards, and then spent a good amount of time quizzing me on where and how I surf, and where I want to go from here. With the 5'4", 5'8" and 8'3" laid out side-by-side in front of his shop, it was clear that there is a hole in my quiver. On a sad note, he said the crack near Magic's stringer needs to be repaired soon, as the wood could start to suck up water and expand. He told me that if the board wasn't epoxy, the same hit would have caused much more extensive damage. Not that I need any convincing to stick with epoxy for the new board; I like the durability, but I also like that it's lighter and feels more lively under my feet.

I explained that I'm looking for perhaps a shorter version of Magic, with 7'0" as a starting length just because it's about halfway down to my 5'8". Other than that, the board design was in his hands. Ward grabbed a blank and drew an outline of his concept using a number of wood templates, his French curves. Ward agreed that 7'0" is a good length since I swim laps for a mile several times a week and have good paddling strength and endurance. Magic's dimensions will be scaled down, shorter and a little narrower, with similar rocker. The new board will also have a squash tail for more confident turn control over the fins. Instead of Magic's traditional bottom, he's adding a more high-performance type of concave, but nothing as radical as on my 5'8" Rocky. He'll put on Pro Teck Future fins, same as Magic's, so I don't have to order them separately. He was more flexible about color than Pearson since he saw I take good care of my boards, but still wanted to keep it light since epoxy is more heat sensitive. We went inside and he unfurled a thick stack of color samples. The blue I picked is aptly named "By the Ocean."

Ward says the board will be ready in about 4 weeks, in time for my birthday (it's a present to myself). There's a rule that you should double the shaper's estimate, but I'm going to be hopeful that I'll be riding my blue enhanced mini-Magic on my special day.

A Shadow of Yesterday (Kelly Ave)

Thankfully Darren hadn't made it to Davenport to meet up with us yesterday afternoon, but he was keen to do dawn patrol today, and I talked him into Kelly over Linda Mar (eww!) since it had been so much fun at the start of our surf safari. Arriving at the sunny beach half an hour past dawn, I was dismayed to see my car displaying the outside temperature as a nippy 48 degrees. But at least I had a dry wetsuit, falling back on my old Hotline.

The waves still looked decent, if a bit smaller, and again there was no one else out. We rode the friendly rip to the outside, and caught a handful of waves each as the current pushed us northward. The tide was incoming and started to shut it down after a while, causing backwashy mush or jacking closeouts. We paddled our way back to the south where we'd started out, pausing to try for any promising waves, and eating it good a few times. I came up with an inelegant maneuver for backing off of a closeout, which is to simply sit-scoot off the back end of the board into the water, and although it was sucessful I'm grateful Darren didn't have a camera to record it for posterity.
Near our entry point we ended up sharing a peak with the only other guys in the water, a crowd of two. The lulls seemed endless and while Darren caught a wave most of the way in, I ended up paddling myself close to the beach. I was tired on my third surf in just over 24 hours, and cold in my 4/3 Hotline, which seems more leaky than my new Rip Curl. Once out of the water, we saw that the scene had changed dramatically since our session began, with only one peak really working, and a light chop replacing glass.

Surfline: Clean conditions and a small NW/SW swell mix prevailed today. Most breaks were topping out around waist high, while breaks wide open to the swell mix were up to chest-shoulder high on the larger waves. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 3.0 ft at 10.0 s WNW / WIND WAVE: 0.3 ft at 2.9 s NNW / WVHT: 3.3 ft / APD: 8.7 s / MWD: 296°

08 October 2010

Blowin' in the Wind (Davenport)

After lunch in Half Moon Bay, Dwayne, J-Bird and I parted ways with Dwayne's friend Rush and his East Bay buddy and began to meander down the coast on Highway 1. We knew we had time to kill before the high tide stopped killing the waves, so we stopped off to see the latest coastside tourist attraction, a dead 80-foot blue whale and her fetus. Scientists, who carved a chunk out of her body, believe she was a victim of a nautical hit and run. It was very sad, and very, very smelly. The odor permeated our clothes and lingered in the car for hours.

We checked just about all the spots I know along the Lonely Coast between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz, including Tres Rocas, which wasn't getting enough south swell to break properly. Having exhausted the little known, we turned to the well known breaks. The forecasters had lied, and the wind was coming up, but Davenport looked the best of the lot. Unfortunately, there were already about five surfers on it, and four more headed out as we did a surf check. So we continued on south, all the way to Eastside Santa Cruz, which was next to flat. The Hook was was only waist-high but crowded, with other hopefuls dotting 38th and Pleasure Point, waiting for little waves. Arrgh.
C'mon, let me carry your fish!

Back to Davenport we went, since surely the other surfers must be done by now! Indeed they were; the lineup was empty. We felt a breeze where we parked the car and suited up, but it wasn't until we reached the part of the beach unprotected by the headland that we felt the full force of the sideshore wind. J-Bird and I had trouble holding on to our longboards, and Dwayne only laughed when I suggested we swap so I could carry his fish instead. (Chivarly is dead.) We made it out to the break, then struggled against the wind pushing us away from the peak and down the coast. The water was choppy and whitecaping all around us, truly the windiest surf session I've ever experienced. I was beginning to think this might be my first skunking on Magic since I got it a year ago, but then I paid attention to Dwayne.
The last time I surfed Davenport with Dwayne was 3 years ago, and he kept trying to coax me into moving off of the shoulder and closer to the peak, where he was catching waves. Timid on large waves, unskilled on a shortboard, and lacking in confidence, I didn't do it then. This time I observed that, as at Rachel's Point, you had to be at the peak to catch the wave; shoulder-sitting would get you nada, and Dwayne was proving it out. I paddled to the edge of the broken-wave bubbles near him and waited, and sure enough, a wave came to me and I caught it. A clump of kelp near the shallow take-off zone proved a useful anchor against the near-gale. I got a few more waves, some from too far inside, riding the whitewater down on my belly until the spray cleared enough for me see the way forward and pop up, but one nice long right along the cliff to the shallows of the reef, dropping off the back in a flat-fall over sea grasses. Magic's reputation and my stoke were preserved.
Shivering as I stood on the reef after my last ride, I filmed Dwayne riding, then J-Bird. A windsurfer was sailing out from the beach as we vacated the peak, and he soon took over the spot, using the wind to get onto the waves and surf.

Surfline: Well exposed combo beach-breaks continue to see a fun, peaky mix of mid-period NW swell and old, fading Southerly swell with waist-chest zone waves and occasional shoulder high+ sets. The more sheltered spots are seeing much smaller surf overall. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 3.9 ft at 10.0 s NW / WIND WAVE: 1.0 ft at 5.0 s WSW / WVHT: 3.9 ft / APD: 8.2 s / MWD: 307°

Better with Buddies (Kelly Ave)

My first and bestest surf buddy, Dwayne, drove up from SoCal for a wedding this weekend, arriving a day early to surf with me. It was a great excuse to take a day off and comb the coast for surf. With a deep high tide around noon, we needed to get out early, kill some time at midday, and then hit it again on the falling afternoon tide.

Dwayne wanted to see my secret spots, so I thought we'd start our surf safari at "Rachel's Point" and work our way south from there.  In Half Moon Bay we met up with my newest buddy J-Bird, who we also crammed into my MINI, and Dwayne's friend Rush, but Rush had come with an East Bay dude named John, and I wasn't too keen on sharing the special spots with a local stranger. Luckily, I didn't have to. Rachel's Point was looking too mushy for the shortboarders and John knew of it already, so we drove south, stopping at Kelly Ave in Half Moon Bay. It's not a secret spot, but the $10 parking fee for the state park is a deterrent. The guys looked at the waves for barely a minute before figuratively jumping up and down and striding back to our respective vehicles to get suited up. There was no one out, it was glassy under the warm sun, and the waves were around shoulder-high.

We had the entire break to ourselves for the hour-and-a-half we were out, and it was pretty sweet. Dwayne duck-dived his way to a peak while J-Bird and I rode a handy rip current for a dry-hair paddle-out. My hair didn't stay dry for long, though. Just after I reached the lineup, regular-foot Dwayne took a left, and I rode a nice right backside, bailing out before the sand-sucking shorepound. A good time was had by all, and I snagged some good lefts too. One wave I rode too far in, falling into the shorepound and getting sand everywhere, even in my mouth. I also earned the prize for best wipeout, getting barreled while free-falling. (Sadly, I landed on my board, and while my bruises will heal, it's got a significant ding perilously close to the wood stringer, which I'll have to get repaired soon.) Backwash from the rising tide started to limit the fun after a while, and with the four others watching from the beach, I caught my last wave, sticking the nose on the steep drop (D'oh!) and crashing (too much pressure?!) then getting a fast belly ride in past the shorepound for a graceful exit. It was time for a long lunch break, waiting for the tide to turn.
Surfline: Well exposed combo beach-breaks continue to see a fun, peaky mix of mid-period NW swell and old, fading Southerly swell with waist-chest zone waves and occasional shoulder high+ sets. The more sheltered spots are seeing much smaller surf overall. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 3.9 ft at 11.4 s NW / WIND WAVE: 0.3 ft at 3.2 s WSW / WVHT: 3.9 ft / APD: 9.1 s / MWD: 308°

02 October 2010

Pushing Boundaries (Rachel's Point)

When I pulled into the parking lot near "Rachel's Point", Luke was changing into his wetsuit behind his truck. I rolled down my window to ask how the surf looked, and he said, "It's double-overhead." Aaah!
Climbing the hill to survey the ocean myself from the top of the bluff, I found J-Bird and Jacob already checking the waves. I didn't see any roll through that were 2xOH, but they assured me they'd seen some too. Folks on the outer peak, mostly shortboarders, didn't seem to be catching much, and there was an inner peak that was smaller, about head-high+, with no one on it. While we were ruminating, Luke passed by on his way to the surf, gun in hand. J-Bird and Jacob decided to try farther south, and I could have gone to the much smaller but crowded Jetty. But I didn't; I decided to go for it.

There was a time, not long ago, when I would have been scared shitless to paddle out into and try to catch overhead waves. But that barrier has been broken with the handful of bigger waves I've ridden recently, and by my confidence in riding Magic. So I suited up and hauled my 8'3" up and over the hill to the beach. I was surprised and concerned to see Luke already on his way back to the parking lot, but he said he was just tired, and that I'd be fine out there. I felt some trepidation facing DOH waves without a buddy, but I was already on my way.

At the beach, a blond woman was just coming out of the water as I strapped on my leash and helmet, and she walked over to introduce herself. Kerri was a local and said she hadn't seen other girls at that break, which I told her I'd surfed a few times before. She seemed a bit unhappy with her session, having ceded several waves to a particular guy who kept dropping in on her, but she wished me better luck.

Luke about to paddle out
I had a dry hair paddle-out via the channel, dunking underwater when I reached the lineup because I was feeling hot in my new Rip Curl 4/3 on a 60-degree day. Once there, I did paddle for some of the big ones. Trouble was, they were shifty, mushing out and hard to get into, and I wasn't ever in the right spot given the crowd of nine in the lineup. A dude on a big orange SUP was absolutely killing it, but rides were few for everyone else, and I heard some grumbling about it "shutting down", "probably the tide's too low now," and "haven't gotten one since I've been out here." So I don't feel too bad, but I wanted to ride something, and moved to the inside peak.

Just like before at this break, the inside peak was jacking, and I wasn't able to land the steep drops on the few lefts I caught in the greenwater. I got one fun fast ride catching the whitewater reform on an outside bomb, and a few other short ones. The inside was choppier, and my board felt like a skipping stone on a couple waves as I got bounced along and off my ride. But sitting inside has its dangers, when the huge outside sets rolled through. Paddling like mad toward the horizon, I realized I wouldn't make it when a DOH wave detonated just in front of me, and I turtled Magic. But there is no turtling a wave like that. I was flipped and spun, the board soon torn from my grasp, pushed deep and invoking my "DON'T PANIC" mantra when the holddown went on too long. Somehow my leash was in my hand, and I climbed it hand-over-hand to reach my board, the surface, the air. I paddled back out for more, until I was too tired to play with the beast any longer. Muscles aching all over my body, I felt a bit like I'd been in a fight, but it was worth it to push the limits of my comfort zone. Next time, I will go farther.

Surfline: Long period NW groundswell peaks with shoulder-head high to 2-3' overhead range at well exposed spots, although inconsistent at times. Standouts deepwater breaks produce occasional plus sets. Small SW swell mixes in the background. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 7.2 ft at 14.8 s W / WIND WAVE: 2.0 ft at 5.0 s WNW / WVHT: 7.5 ft / APD: 8.3 s / MWD: 281°