24 December 2010

Poocifica (Linda Mar)

Last Sunday, I searched the San Mateo County coast in a steady rain, looking for surfable waves. The best I found were at Linda Mar, but the water was a disgusting shade of brown, and although there were folks giving it a go, the surf didn't look good enough to risk the contamination [video]. It wasn't until Wednesday that I learned why the water looked so filthy: Pacifica State Beach was closed along with 3 others due to an overflow of the oxymoronic "sanitary" sewer on Sunday. So Linda Mar was my last choice this morning, but unfortunately the Half Moon Bay breaks were sloppy or lackluster. Montara looked clean but solidly overhead with a hard paddle out, so I drove on to Poocifica.
Linda Mar was having a good day, and - after walking past signs warning of contamination - there were already plenty of people out taking advantage of it. Why do we surf despite the risk of illness from dirty water? It's hard to explain to non-surfers, but when the waves are good, or at least decent, and you need to get in a surf between storms, well... we just go and hope for the best. Perhaps they haven't re-tested recently, and the water's OK now. It looks clean, and doesn't smell bad. For sure I won't swallow (nevermind that seawater gets forced into my sinuses and drips out later). I'll take some extra vitamin C. Little lies we tell ourselves, and then we paddle out, and hope we don't get sick.
I've just found an article from yesterday saying the beach remains closed through the weekend, because they won't test the water again until Monday. Here's hoping no invisible beasties are about to wage war in my body. For now, I have to say it was worth it. I first joined the pack on a left just south of the pumphouse. (The pumphouse contains restrooms and a little-known women's changing area. It's also the mechanism for disgorging putrid water into the lineup though gates that open without warning even in dry weather. I've never seen it, but I've heard it's pretty smelly.) I snared one nice ride from the crowd but grew tired of the competition, so I got out and walked past the trickle of water emanating from under the pumphouse to another peak farther north. Surfers were spread out there, and although the waves were closing out more, they were doing so gently on the rising tide and were a bit bigger than at the crowded peak. I rode some nice lefts and rights chest- to shoulder-high. The offshore grew strong and gave me some good practice getting Emm over the lip and down the face against the wind.

I wore my Hotline 4/3 this morning since the Rip Curl was still wet, but it's leaky and not as warm, and I was getting quite chilled with the wind blowing hard at times. I caught a fun left in close to the beach, dogging a sponger who was frozen like a reindeer in the headlights, and called it a Happy Holiday.

Surfline: LINDA MAR AND ROCKAWAY BEACHES CLOSED TO SWIMMING FOLLOWING SEWER OVERFLOWS (12/22) Clean, crumbly, sectiony lines with some slow but workable corners/sections to pick off. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 4.6 ft at 10.0 s W 96 / WIND WAVE: 3.9 ft at 5.9 s SW / WVHT: 5.9 ft / APD: 5.7 s / MWD: 277°

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