27 December 2011

Lower (HMB Jetty)

Swell, sun and tide were all lower than last time at the Jetty.
The waves were mostly closed out, but I rode several before the sun set on my final surf session of 2011. Here's to getting a full barrel in the new year!
Surfline: This afternoon there's a slowly easing but still solid WNW (280-300) groundswell, with head high+ to double overhead zone surf (6-10') at exposed spots and some larger sets at the better breaks. Winds are light onshore for mainly semi-clean conditions. The tide will steadily back out through the rest of the day. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 7.5 ft at 12.9 s WNW 105 / WIND WAVE: 2.3 ft at 5.3 s WNW / WVHT: 7.9 ft / APD: 8.2 s / MWD: 302° (Met) WSPD: 12 kts / GST: 14 kts / WVHT: 7.9 ft / DPD: 13.0 s / WDIR: 340° / ATMP: 52.2° F / WTMP: 54.1° F. Tide: 1' falling to 0'.

24 December 2011

Demi-Barrel (HMB Jetty)

Although the tide was almost 7' high this morning, Luke predicted the surf at the Jetty would be good on the current swell, offering photos of similar conditions in January as proof. Most who'd said they would join us bailed, and Luke and Carolina arrived early. At the appointed hour, Caro was already done, having been spit up onto the beach by the consistently overhead surf, but Luke said he'd paddle out with me to catch one more wave. He reached the lineup slightly ahead of me and caught that one before I'd caught my breath, leaving me alone in the company of shortboarding strangers.
The waves were some of the biggest I've ever tried to surf, so this session was as much about conquering a little fear as anything. Or so I told myself as I failed to get any rides. The waves were mushy on the shoulders but pitching and steep as they broke, and many were closing out. Backwash made them unpredictable. The sweet spot for takeoff at the peak - not too deep nor too far on the shoulder - was shifting around, and I couldn't seem to find it. Although I saw better surfers make a few nice rides, and I was picky enough to let most of the closeouts go, all I was getting were rough tumbles on takeoff and light beating on the inside.
Heading out with Luke. Photo by Caro.
Still, while I didn't get any legitimate rides, on one left, for the briefest fraction of a second before I was knocked off my feet, I perceived a roof over my head. SO COOL! My stated goal for 2011 was to get barreled, and while that wasn't fully what I had in mind, my feet were solidly on my board - I wasn't free-falling this time - so I think I'll count it. And the stoke is making me very merry! Thank you, Santa!
Surfline: Excellent conditions on tap this morning as a healthy dose of long-period WNW (285-300) swell blends with fun-sized S (170-190) Southern Hemi energy. Solid surf prevails as exposed areas see overhead to double overhead (8-10') waves. Standout focal points see larger sets to 3x overhead on occasion. Light offshore conditions early. A big 7' high tide tops out just after 9am. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 12.5 ft at 16.0 s WNW 104 / WIND WAVE: 1.6 ft at 3.6 s NE / WVHT: 12.8 ft / APD: 12.5 s / MWD: 294° (Met) WSPD: 10 kts / GST: 14 kts / WVHT: 12.8 ft / DPD: 16.0 s / WDIR: 40° / ATMP: 52.7° F / WTMP: 53.8° F. Tide: 7' falling slightly.
Happy Holidays!

21 December 2011

Gear Review: Xcel Infiniti Wetsuit and Panasonic Lumix TS3 Waterproof Camera

OK, so once again, I've gotten behind on my gear reviews. But better late than never - and of course I had to give a fair trial period anyway.

I bought a size 4 women's Xcel Infiniti 4/3 back in October, but didn't start wearing it regularly until last month when the weather and water turned colder. It's been keeping me toasty, but I have a few complaints, and design-wise, it just doesn't measure up against my Rip Curl Insulator. The legs are too long, so the suit bunches around my knees. (Wish I'd noticed this in the store.) Unlike the Rip Curl, the key pocket is located under the chest-zip flap. It has a long elastic string loop which is convenient, but I prefer the leg placement. The chest zip goes awkwardly from right to left and is quite difficult to fasten with gloved hands. I have to start it before I put on a glove, then lock the car and attach the key, stuffing it with some difficulty into the pocket, before zipping up all the way. Or else ask a friend for help. But the biggest failure compared to the Rip Curl Insulator is the lack of an integrated hood. At a comparable cost, it's a glaring omission. A cap leaves my neck exposed and chilly, while my extended hood tends to get pulled out of the suit in the course of a surf session. By contrast, Rip Curl's design zips in the hood and secures it firmly under the suit, keeping my hair mostly dry and blocking water flush through the neck opening. I'm rather dreading the near-freezing dawn patrols to come in my Xcel. In sum, while some of my friends have said their Xcel suits lasted more than one season, I can't see this being a repeat purchase for me. Looking ahead, I've heard very good things about local Montara-based Isurus and they are planning to start a women's line next year. If Isurus makes a winter wetsuit in my size, I'll be first in line. (Update 8/17/12: The Xcel is still keeping me warm and partly dry after the better part of a year. I wish I could combine the fit and features of the Rip Curl with the durability of the Xcel. But in wetsuits, warmth is king, so the Infiniti is back to the top of the list.)

After my Pentax Optio W90 died in October (never again, Pentax!), I picked up a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3. It's a step up from the Pentax cameras, with extra features like GPS tagging (which gets my location right most of the time). I like that there is a dedicated record button, so I don't have to dig around through menus to switch from taking photos to taking video. With the camera strapped into the latest version of the Wrist Pod, I've been getting good on-the-water and at-the-beach shots while keeping it secure between times. I have noticed some occasional random blurriness in photos that doesn't seem to correlate with any moisture on the lens (one of a series of shots may be affected), but on the whole, it's working well. My only issue, which is a factor with all of the waterproof cameras I've tried, is that it's quite difficult to press small buttons while wearing gloves any thicker than 1.5 mm. I've missed some shots, or in desperation had to ask a gloveless friend to turn the camera on for me. Guess maybe I'll have to let one hand be cold in a thin glove, or design some sort of stylus to press the button. You'd think the waterproof camera manufacturers might make "buttons useable with gloves" a design parameter though, wouldn't you?! (Update 8/17/12: Despite being totally anal about keeping the seals clean and carefully following the other care instructions - except the one about letting the camera dry completely before opening to remove the SD card - the connector ports have both corroded. I don't use them anyway, but still. Worse  are the occasional malfunctions, like turning off immediately after the "on" button is pressed. It's started to take a blurry picture before recording any video, which also sometimes begins blurry. I have the feeling it's on it's last legs, and not even a year old yet.)

Photos/video below taken with the Panasonic Lumix TS3.
Dawn patrol at the Jetty
Free dolphins off Oahu

19 December 2011

Welcome Back, Rocket (Indicators/Middle Peak)

Ward repaired the fin cuts on my 6'2", and of course I had to put Rocket in the water right away to rinse off the sanding dust. The waves at Steamer Lane were obliging, breaking overhead at the Point and smaller down the coast as they wrapped in toward Cowells. Much as I'd love to ride some of those bigger waves, I'm not ready to fight the talented pack at the Point, so I paddled out at less-crowded Indicators.
I'm a serial monogamist when it comes to surfboards; I don't like to switch among several in my quiver like a few of my buddies. The main reason is that there always seems to be a few-wave re-adjustment when I change to a different board, and that was evident today on my first couple waves. On a nice one that was shoulder-high, I failed to negotiate a mogul in the face, getting tossed off as I made the drop. But soon I was dialed in to Rocket once again.

The tide was low, but the kelp failed to ensnare me. I caught a just-broken wave and rode it nearly to outer Cowells. I'd only been out for 15 minutes but my nose was starting to tingle, and I realized I'd forgotten sunscreen. D'oh! Since I was near the Indicators stairs, I diverted back to the car to put some on. I'd parked near the Lane stairs, so I went down them to shorten the paddle. The stairs disappear quickly into a jumble of boulders, but I followed another surfer to the shore and then took his line to paddle out to Middle Peak.

I caught another shoulder-high right with a mogul in the face, but this time I made it over - woot! - and rode to outer Cowells again. I picked up a few smaller and gutless waves there, but knew I needed to make the long paddle back against the current to better surf. I decided to try some bolder moves on my next ride. After the drop, I turned off the bottom, rode to the top, tried to turn down again, and stalled, the wave continuing on without me. I'm not sure what happened (too high? too slow? too timid?), but boo.

After a few more rides, and a couple failed duck-dives that got me pushed back down the coast, I was getting tired of so much paddling. I worked back to Middles once more to get a ride in. It took me two waves, but the last reminded me of Hawaii, skimming on clear water above the seagrass-covered reef.
Surfline: 4-6', fair to good conditions. Still some fun WNW groundswell in the water with minor SSW swell mixing in. Conditions also remain clean with sets to head high at good spots and 1-3' overhead at standouts. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 9.5 ft at 10.0 s NW 103 / WIND WAVE: 1.3 ft at 3.8 s WNW / WVHT: 9.5 ft / APD: 8.8 s / MWD: 316° (Met) WSPD: 4 kts / GST: 8 kts / WVHT: 9.5 ft / DPD: 10.0 s / WDIR: 300° / ATMP: 51.4° F / WTMP: 54.5° F. Tide: Bottoming out around 0".

18 December 2011

Finally Some Size (HMB Jetty)

I've been riding waves that were shoulder-high and below for weeks and weeks, and itching for something bigger. Small waves can be fun but just don't get me as stoked as those at least as tall as me. I need a hint of danger, a dash of fear. Finally, today was the day for some more size. Waves at the Jetty were shoulder- to head-high+, though a little disorganized and crowded with a free-surfing high school team.
Luke took photos and scoped out where to sit before I arrived, suggesting we split the somewhat-empty second peak which had a nice left working for me. The paddle-out wasn't too bad, a matter of timing and luck to avoid the big closeouts. I rode a couple of head-high lefts in quick succession, and oo-la-la, they were fun! My 7'0" sure doesn't turn like my new 6'2" though, and I'm looking forward to picking up repaired Rocket in a couple of days. While I endured a long wait for more waves, Luke took off on a right and disappeared. I thought he'd eaten it, but he said he'd gotten a great ride way down the beach. On his next wave, a clueless deer-in-the-headlights surfer smacked her fin into his Harbour surfboard, dinging it badly. He left, saying he was going to get his fish. (I though he had it in his car, but apparently he drove home for a spare board. Wish I lived that close to the beach.)

Look out kooks, Luke's got his gun
The surf seemed to be getting a bit messier. I rode a few more waves, none as fun as the first two, before the chill drove me to look for one more in. (I'm so looking forward to surfing in Nicaragua next month, when cold won't shorten my sessions.) A bouncy left took me to shore, where Luke was just heading back out. "That's not a fish!" I said, looking at his board. "Yeah," he replied, "When a kook hits my board, I get my gun!"

Heading home, I had sand in my ears, seawater in my sinuses, and a big smile on my face. Stoked!

Surfline: Solid WNW groundswell filled in overnight and peaks today, setting up lots of overhead to double overhead+ surf. Standouts see larger waves running in the triple overhead range. Winds are light and conditions clean but you will have to find a spot that can handle the size as many breaks are maxing out and a little out of control. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 10.8 ft at 16.0 s NW 102 / WIND WAVE: 1.0 ft at 4.0 s WNW / WVHT: 10.8 ft / APD: 12.5 s / MWD: 306° (Met) WSPD: 2 kts / GST: 4 kts / WVHT: 10.8 ft / DPD: 16.0 s / WDIR: 180° / ATMP: 50.0° F / WTMP: 53.6° F. Tide: Bottoming out at 1.5'.

11 December 2011

Smile Turned Upside Down (38th Ave)

Luke and Dave heading down the stairs
A good crew came together for an afternoon surf today: J-Bird and Jacob; their friends Morgan and Tara, visiting from Washington; Luke; and one of my coworkers, also named Dave. It was Dave's first time surfing with someone from work, and with a girl. First time for everything!

The Mavericks movie was filming again at the Hook, taking over most of the parking lot. My friends had arrived earlier and said the break was closed. I didn't believe they could do that, but a look from the cliff showed it wasn't worth testing since there was too much water on it for the wave to break. My friends wanted to surf 38th (longboarders!) so I paddled out there with them, figuring to move toward Pleasure Point if the wave was too mushy for me.

38th turned out to have some fun waves on offer, even for my 6'2". I rode a couple of almost shoulder-high rights all the way to the beach, playing on the face, and finding that Rocket seems to turn with a thought, light and responsive. I'm loving my new board! I need to get it on some bigger waves though.
Luke, Tara, Morgan, Jacob and J-Bird
Luke, J-Bird and I all paddled for a wave, but it had a loose longboard along for the ride, rolling in the curl. Luke caught the wave from whitewater behind the tumbling board and J-Bird got out of its way, but I couldn't. I tried to dive under the wave and came up with the wayward board on my head. I bit my tongue a little but Rocket and I seemed otherwise unscathed. I held on to the longboard until its owner came to claim it, then, biting my tongue figuratively, suggested nicely that he should wear a leash. He just laughed and paddled off. Grrr. Surfboards are like dogs; if you can't keep yours under control, use a leash.
As another wave peaked up behind me, I saw a surfer catch it, but it sectioned wide between us and I thought I was good to go. I didn't think he'd make it past the long section, and he had a open shoulder to the left, so I figured he'd take it. I didn't realize that he'd zipped far down the whitewater toward me until it was too late to back off. Still, all would probably have been copacetic if (a) I hadn't fallen or (b) he'd straightened out. Sadly neither happened. After we both surfaced, I apologized, and he suggested I check my board since he thought he'd hit it. It looked fine in the water and we went our separate ways. (I'm not entirely certain about the proper surf etiquette in that situation: Does a surfer riding behind in the whitewater have right-of-way over another dropping in on the face? It seems a bit of a gray area. Tell me what you think in the comments.)

While the rest of my buddies were grouped in the middle of the break, long-time surfer Dave had moved way outside on his quad after I saw him ride a nice wave farther in. He's a goofyfoot too, and was going for the less-crowded left. I hung out with him for a while, but the set waves didn't come through often and, tired of waiting for one, I went back to the rest of my group. Everyone was getting rides despite the growing crowd. I picked off several more, but none as fun and long as the first two. It was a good session though, and I'm really stoked about the waves I got on my new board :) It's so fun!

Passing the Hook on the way back, I saw that there was a security guard posted between orange cones mostly blocking the stairs to the beach. I asked him if they were really keeping people from surfing the Hook, which had turned on with the falling tide. He said no, but they were "politely asking" surfers not to take the main peak at First Bowl. I hope they're soon done filming at my breaks. The movie-making was fun at first but now it feels like they've overstayed their welcome.

Back at the car, when I dried off Rocket, I saw a gash on the rail near the tail, then another which also cut across the traction pad, and a third on the tail. I showed them to Luke:
Me: Well, it could have been worse.
Luke: Yeah, it could've been you.
Me: Nah, I've already done that.
I can't say for certain it wasn't the loose longboard that caused it, but I suspect the fin cuts happened when that guy said he thought he hit my board. Which means it's my fault. Even if I had a right to go on that wave, I shouldn't have - I should've looked at the last and backed off - and I'm totally beating myself up about it. So sorry Rocket :(

Surfline: Things remain fairly inconsistent overall this afternoon as a blend of WNW groundswell and SSW swell continues. Decent breaks see shouler-head high+ surf with some occasional larger sets. Standouts still get a couple feet overhead. Light westerly wind now for semi-smooth surface conditions. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 6.6 ft at 16.0 s WNW 101 / WIND WAVE: 0.7 ft at 3.6 s WNW / WVHT: 6.6 ft / APD: 11.8 s / MWD: 287° (Met) WSPD: 4 kts / GST: 6 kts / WVHT: 6.6 ft / DPD: 16.0 s / WDIR: 300° / ATMP: 50.0° F / WTMP: 54.0° F. Tide: 3' falling below 1'.

07 December 2011

5 More Weeks

Holly Beck InnerView on Korduroy.tv:
In just over 5 weeks, we'll be at her surf retreat in Nica. Can't wait!

06 December 2011

Iced Coffey (HMB Jetty)

The tide is high at dawn all this week, but with limited daylight a fortnight before winter solstice, that’s the only time I can get out to surf on a workday. I couldn’t round up any of my buddies for moral support getting back into the cold NorCal water after our Oahu vacation, so I dug deep for the self-motivation. Still, I wasn’t expecting that the air temperature would be hovering just over freezing at the beach, half the temperature of my last session at Diamond Head. A cold welcome home indeed!
No one was out as the sky lightened enough for a surf check. At first I thought I might have to look elsewhere in Half Moon Bay because only small waves were breaking shallow at the Jetty, but then there were some larger outside sets rolling through that looked promising. By the time I suited up (after first ducking back into my car for a few minutes of re-warming), one guy had paddled out on the main peak. The second peak looked better to me, especially since it was breaking left as well as right, so I gave him wide berth.
I watched the sun rise in pinks and oranges over a glassy sea. There were long shivery lulls between rideable waves. On my new Coffey shortboard again for only the third time, I bagged a couple of nice chest-high lefts with short shoulders amidst a handful of lesser rides. My breath steamed in the chilly air, and within a hour my feet were clods of ice while my fingers ached with cold. Time to switch to my thicker booties and gloves. I rode another left in to the beach, crossed the road on unfeeling feet, worked my car key from its wetsuit pocket with stiff fingers, retrieved my water jug and dumped hot water down my suit – aaah!
I miss Hawaii.

Frost on the grass
Surfline: Modest, holding SW groundswell and small/leftover WNW swell are on offer this morning. Most areas are a little sluggish with the deep morning high tide, and generally offering up 2-3'+ surf. Top exposures pull in some occasional chest/shoulder high+ sets, becoming a bit more frequent as the tide backs out(for areas that like the lower tide). Conditions are nice and clean thanks to light East-ENE winds, which look to continue through the morning. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 4.9 ft at 12.1 s NW 100 / WIND WAVE: 0.7 ft at 3.8 s WNW / WVHT: 4.9 ft / APD: 8.4 s / MWD: 313° (Met) WSPD: 4 kts / GST: 6 kts / WVHT: 4.9 ft / DPD: 12.0 s / WDIR: 90° / ATMP: 52.0° F / WTMP: 54.0° F. Tide: 5.5’ high.

01 December 2011

Rain Brings Rainbows (Diamond Head Cliffs)

Today was our last day of vacation, and we met Denis at Diamond Head for dawn patrol so I could enjoy tropical surfing once more before returning to wetsuits and the cold water of NorCal.
In the Hawaiian tradition of leaving shoes at the door, we added ours to a line of flip-flops at the base of the cliffside trail. With scattered rain and sunshine, a rainbow arched over the path behind us as we reached the beach.
Wearing a thin neoprene rashie against the morning chill, my ribs felt fine but the knee bruises ouched a little on the paddle out, though quickly forgotten in the lineup. The sea was glassy and Denis said more crowded than usual after days of wind. Early on, a longboarding surfer girl dropped in on my left and another did the same on the next one, a bit annoying since they weren't even goofyfoot. A dude in a black helmet, perhaps used to driving mules, called me off his wave with a "Hee-yah!"
When it started to rain, a bunch of surfers left the water. I don't understand why; we were wet anyway, and the shower was brief. No matter, more waves for us! They were slopey and mushy but the waves in Hawaii have more power. I rode many, mostly lefts, mostly long. I'm comfortable now on the yellow board, ready to take on the north shore, but alas, it's time to leave.
Denis waiting for waves on his shortboard, rain in the distance
It's been a great trip and I've loved every minute of the warm-water time, especially the last two sessions where the waves were pretty good fun and I was dialed in to the yellow 6'9." So stoked!
Surfline: 2-3 ft knee to waist high occ. 4 ft, fair conditions. Combo of declining trade swell and background SSW swell providing surfable but choppy waves for the Diamond Head area today. The Cliffs and Lighthouse locations have chest/shoulder high wedges laced with multiple chops. Steady trade winds will produce a bumpy ocean surface for south east exposures. Partly sunny in the morning then clearing. Isolated showers. Highs 78 to 83. Northeast winds 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 20 percent. Buoy 51101: (Wave) SWELL: 9.8 ft at 14.8 s NNW 99 / WIND WAVE: 8.9 ft at 5.9 s NE / WVHT: 13.1 ft / APD: 8.0 s / MWD: 333° (Met) WSPD: 19 kts / GST: 23 kts / WVHT: 13.1 ft / DPD: 15.0 s / WDIR: 20° / ATMP: 72.3° F / WTMP: 76.3° F. Tide: 1.5' rising slightly.

30 November 2011

Fade (Tongs)

Fade: a surfer's movement back into the most powerful section of the wave... a (usually) subtle angling back toward the whitewater so to position oneself deeper in the barrel or to wait for the wave to stand up more vertically as it moves over shallower reef/sand.
Since we've been staying on the 13th floor overlooking Tongs, I've had time to mind-surf, studying the wave from a broad vantage, trying to predict where the surfers should be to catch it and what they should do to stay on it. I could see a clear need to fade often else lose the wave on the mushy shoulder. With that in mind, I made the 5-minute paddle out. A couple of surfers soon rode in, leaving just me and a dude in boardshorts. I'm still not sure how folks surf with such minimal clothing, since my ribs have gotten lightly bruised despite due care, and there's good reason surf shirts are called rash guards. Still, in the even warmer waters of Nicaragua next month, I'm going to try surfing in only my allegedly wipe-out proof bikinis by Calavera and Ola Chica. We'll see if they live up to the claims.
One thing I like about Tongs, aside from it being walking distance from our condo, is that it's primarily a left, at least in the current conditions. Although there was much less wind than last time, it was still offshore and required more forward and downward push to get into and stay on the waves. I worked it for a bunch of fun rides, once scraping my foot on the reef at the end of one. I've lost the wobbles on the yellow board now and it's pretty fun.

The swell bumped up briefly to punchy shoulder-high, and I caught a very long ride to the inside, fading to stay with the power and make it through the flat sections. Woot! The bigger set was followed by a lull. Denis told me later that Diamond Head is notorious for such sneaker sets.
The other surfer left and I had the break to myself. Sweet. I rode a few more waves but the breeze was chilling me so I caught a series of three waves to get closer to shore before paddling in over the shallow reef. Stoked!

Surfline: Small South swell provides knee-waist occasional belly-chest high sets for the better spots in Town, inconsistent. Light ENE wind early, gradually increasing and veering NE through the day, becoming moderate. Partly to mostly cloudy skies. Buoy 51101: (Wave) SWELL: 6.6 ft at 13.8 s NNW 98 / WIND WAVE: 3.0 ft at 5.0 s N / WVHT: 7.2 ft / APD: 8.2 s / MWD: 342° (Met) WSPD: 16 kts / GST: 19 kts / WVHT: 7.2 ft / DPD: 14.0 s / WDIR: 10° / ATMP: 74.8° F / WTMP: 76.3° F. Tide: Falling from 0.5'.
Snorkeling with free dolphins yesterday. So cool.

28 November 2011

Ketchup and Mustard (Haleiwa)

Amanda on her red fish
My buddy Amanda was on the north shore of Oahu with her boyfriend when Scott and I were on the south, and we wanted to meet up for a surf. I'd hoped to time our trip up to coincide with Carissa Moore's wildcard heat in the Van's World Cup of Surfing, but the contest website was abysmal and provided zero information on when that might be. We drove up today to see what we would see, taking the long route meandering the windward coast and stopping at Turtle Bay for lunch at Ola, our feet in the warm sand, looking at the ocean.

Just after we'd ordered, Amanda returned my voicemail. She had a short window to surf and we agreed to meet at protected Haleiwa since I didn't feel comfortable in overhead waves on the still slightly-tippy yellow board. (If I'd had my own surfboard, Emm or Rocket, I would totally have been down for her suggestion of catching inside waves at Chuns. Damn airline board fees!) So I could find her in the water, Amanda told me she'd be on a red fish. I said "we'll be like ketchup and mustard," looking at those condiments on the table.

Amanda's directions were good and I joined her on the inside, soon launching into my first ride. On the next wave, I was just about to pop up when I saw two large rocks exposed in my path. My brain screamed "Abort! Abort!" as I quickly pulled out of the wave. We moved away and outside of the exposed reef, and had to paddle frequently to stay clear of that danger zone.
It was good to surf with Amanda but she had to leave after I'd been there only about half an hour. Funny that we hadn't been able to meet up to surf for probably the last three years in NorCal but managed it, however briefly, several thousand miles away. I got many rides on waves up to chest high, weaving through surf schools and over one none-to-bright swimmer. The waves were mushy and I had to catch them near the peak or just broken. My best was a left with a shoulder. When it started to slow, I turned back to the peak for speed, then left again. Woot!
Sadly, I learned later that Carissa's World Cup heat had started shortly after my session ended a few miles to the south. Had I known, we would've dashed back up to Sunset Beach so I could cheer her in person. (Grrr, Vans! I'm never ever buying your shoes.)

Surfline: 4-7 ft shoulder high to 2 ft. overhead, fair to good conditions. Haleiwa looking much more manageable than yesterday as the winds and surf has dropped down. There are some fun waves rolling through but it is already looking pretty crowded....remember to share waves and show aloha. Sunny, highs 74 to 81. East winds 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 20 percent. Buoy 51101: (Wave) SWELL: 6.6 ft at 9.1 s E 97 / WIND WAVE: 4.9 ft at 5.0 s E / WVHT: 8.2 ft / APD: 6.6 s / MWD: 82° (Met) WSPD: 16 kts / GST: 19 kts / WVHT: 8.2 ft / DPD: 9.0 s / WDIR: 110° / ATMP: 74.8° F / WTMP: 76.8° F. Tide: Less than 0.5' and rising.

27 November 2011

Offshore (Tongs)

Following an afternoon storm, the wind howled strong all last night. From our penthouse condo (it seems they didn't want to call it the 13th floor), I could see a surf break called Tongs (or Tonggs). There was no one out, but at least it was blowing offshore.
Later a few surfers had appeared and it seemed like it was it was only getting windier, so I succumbed to the pull of the ocean. Blocked by the high-rises for most of the long paddle out, the wind hit full force as I reached the lineup. Without wetsuit padding, I've often gotten bruised ribs surfing in warm water, but they felt OK. I think that's because I'm on a smaller board - a big longboard gets knocked into me harder than a shorter board - and because I now arch my back more when I paddle, like a real shortboarder. My bare knobby knees, however, continue to attract bruises.
Shallow water
Some kayakers were catching waves in the inside shallows and for a while I was the only surfer. Then a dude paddled out teaching a lesson, pointing out that my shortboard had more rocker than the beginner longboard his charge was trying to stay atop. The yellow board felt less tippy than yesterday; I'm getting more used to its narrowness.
I rode four or five gutless waves, fighting blinding spray and the offshore wind to get down the face for a brief ride before they petered out. I triangulated with a rock and a pink condo and paddled constantly to maintain position on the shifty peak as I was blown about, but got pushed to close too the rock and found my feet touching the reef while I sat on my board. Tongs breaks shallow, and Denis told me later than this gets especially hairy when it's big. That wasn't a concern today. It was good to get wet, and after a while every else went in, leaving me alone under the sun in the warm shallow sea.

Surfline: Small SSW swell continues. Look for mainly knee-waist high sets through the day, with occasional plus peaks at best breaks. Strong ENE wind 15-20kts. Buoy 51101: (Wave) SWELL: 7.9 ft at 12.9 s NNW 96 / WIND WAVE: 5.2 ft at 5.3 s E / WVHT: 9.5 ft / APD: 7.0 s / MWD: 344° (Met) WSPD: 19 kts / GST: 25 kts / WVHT: 9.5 ft / DPD: 13.0 s / WDIR: 90° / ATMP: 75.0° F / WTMP: 76.3° F. Tide: Falling from 0.5'.

25 November 2011

Sexism in Margaritaville

When we had dinner at Jimmy Buffett's in Waikiki, I wasn't sure which restroom to use:
I am a surf rider...
...but I'm also a girl, though I don't hula.
Good thing they added the international symbols. But the sexism, grrr!

Canary in the Tropics (Diamond Head Cliffs)

We arrived on Oahu on Thanksgiving, and the day after I was first in the door at the surf shop to which Luke had consigned his 6'9" surfboard. He'd kindly offered to let me use it during our week on the island, since the airlines extort $200 to fly a board there and back.

After waxing it up, and getting a little lost when a lighthouse proved curiously hard to find, I met Denis at Diamond Head for my first warm-water surf. Mahalo to him for passing on his local knowledge of the entry point, the current, the nearby break names, etc. We surfed at Cliffs, in between the Lighthouse and Mansions.

The yellow board is narrower than any of mine and noticeably tippier side-to-side. Fortunately the waves were small and forgiving. I caught a few and fell before making a nice right. Denis was riding his wife's wide 8'6" while his 7'0" is in for ding repair, and offered to switch boards with me. But her board was a huge tanker and I quickly swapped back. The board was lacking a leash so I'd bought one, and sorely missed my XM Tangle-Free leash as the standard one kept catching between my toes and wrapping around my leg.
Still wobbly but slowly getting the hang of the yellow board, I rode a long whitewater right and then a left. The water was so clear and warm - ahh, nice! I love to feel the surfboard under my bare feet.
Surfline: 2-3 ft knee to waist high. Fair conditions. Small SSW swell trying to provide ride-able surf on southern shores today. The Cliffs and Lighthouse locations have semi-smooth open rights rolling in. Lighter trade winds will produce less choppy conditions for south east exposures. Partly sunny with a 50 percent chance of light showers. Highs 69 to 83. East winds 10 to 15 mph. Buoy 51101: (Wave) SWELL: 4.6 ft at 12.1 s NW 95 / WIND WAVE: 2.0 ft at 5.3 s ENE / WVHT: 5.2 ft / APD: 6.4 s / MWD: 319°(Met) WSPD: 14 kts / GST: 17 kts / WVHT: 5.2 ft / DPD: 12.0 s / WDIR: 10° / ATMP: 75.4° F / WTMP: 77.0° F. Tide: around 0.25'.

20 November 2011


I can't remember the last time I got skunked by conditions, but Church of Surf was cancelled this morning. After plans to surf "Rachel's Point" fell through, Luke and I checked the Jetty (slight breeze on messy short-period swell kicked up by strong southerly winds overnight) and Linda Mar (onshore wind driving pouring rain onto a few dozen intrepid surfers hunting closeouts). Rachel's may have been surfable, but I rather doubt it. With a passing storm front, conditions were variable and the predicted offshores did not appear. Sadly, Rocket stayed bagged after riding around in the car with me for and hour and a half.

It looks like I won't have another opportunity to surf NorCal before we leave for Oahu on Thanksgiving. I'll be unplugged for a week while we're on vacation, but tropical surf reports will follow on my return. Until then, Aloha!
Canoes, May '10

17 November 2011

November Spring (Kelly Ave)

It's November, but you can't tell it from the surf. Santa Cruz has been flat, and while a steep-angled NW swell is bringing under head-high waves to exposed beaches, wind has been junking up those exposures. The fall swell train hasn't left the station yet. And I'm just jonesing to use my new shortboard!
I took a chance this morning that Half Moon Bay would have some waves yet be protected from the north wind. Manabu's report on yesterday's conditions led me to drive directly to Kelly, which had the best chance in the Bay for something more than anklebiters.
The wind was calm, and from the bluff the waves looked about waist-high with a few slightly bigger. Darren turned up a couple minutes after me, but dithered about going out. Manabu showed no hesitation, arriving with his wetsuit half on. I paddled out alone into an empty sea, but they both soon joined me, followed a little while later by J-Bird, Denise and finally Jacob.
Manabu, Denise and Darren
The surf wasn't as small as it seemed from the bluff. I'd forgotten to add on for the elevated perspective, but no matter. At our level, no one would complain about an undercall, although my buddies would've been a bit disappointed if I'd exaggerated. Most waves were closing out but tempting shoulders popped up from time to time on short sections. I blew the drop on my first one, then got caught inside with Manabu as whitewater kept exploding on the sandbar in front of us. I tried to duck-dive with limited success, until my arms got too tired to sink the board, then paddled sideways to get out of the impact zone and into the rip current for an easier path to the outside. I rode a few small waves that petered out, then found myself in the path of whitewater once again. I decided not to fight the white, and caught a couple fast ones from there, working one to an inside reform.

My best ride was a shoulder-high left, making a fast drop into a swooping turn on the shoulder. Woot! Then I caught a slightly smaller right, pumping it through a flat section until it reformed as a left on the inside. Stoked!
Surfline: NW swell-mix continues this morning, easing through the day. Size for better exposures is generally running in the waist-chest-shoulder high zone, with a few larger sets for top NW exposures. Light onshore flow continues, though, so expect some bump/texture across the region, keeping conditions less than ideal, but still rideable in most areas. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 4.9 ft at 12.1 s NW 94 / WIND WAVE: 1.3 ft at 3.7 s NW / WVHT: 4.9 ft / APD: 6.5 s / MWD: 305° (Met) WSPD: 6 kts / GST: 8 kts / WVHT: 4.9 ft / DPD: 12.0 s / WDIR: 300° / ATMP: 53.2° F / WTMP: 52.7° F. Tide: Around 3.5' falling slightly.

13 November 2011

Downsizing (HMB Jetty)

Finishing touches at Ward Coffey Shapes: Pro Teck fins and a leash string
7'0" behind 6'2"
Like last year, my birthday present to myself was a custom surfboard shaped in Santa Cruz by Ward Coffey. It was delayed due to issues with the glasser, but I brought the new board home yesterday and added a traction pad, nose and tail guards, and an XM Tangle-free leash.

At 6'2" long, 20.5" wide and 2.5" thick, it's a step down from the 7'0" Ward shaped for me a year ago to help me transition to a shortboard. 

Eager to try it out, I woke early and was at the Jetty half an hour past dawn. There were already a few surfers scattered on several peaks, waiting for mostly clean, but a little mixed up, thigh- to chest-high waves. I headed out farther south this time, near the traffic light, where an empty left was rolling through sometimes. All doubt that the transition would be smooth was erased when I caught and rode the first wave I paddled for, although it closed out quickly and left me bouncing atop whitewater. Woot!
As I paddled back out, a wave started to break in front of me, and I thought, might as well see if I can sink this board. It's been quite a while since I've been on a board small enough to duck-dive, but I had partial success. I pushed the nose down and under, but have a feeling my ass was hanging out in the air when the wave hit, as my old buddy Dwayne said it did when he made a small attempt to teach me the maneuver several years ago. Something to work on with my surf coach, but it may be that the board is too buoyant for me to submerge both of us all the way.  
J-Bird and Jacob had said they'd meet me, but were running late and didn't turn up until I was almost done. Their friend Denise joined us too.
J-Bird paddles into a nice wave
I bogged the nose paddling for a few waves, and missed some because I wasn't forward enough on my board or at the critical place on the wave. But I'll get all that sorted out soon enough. And I didn't miss many that I would've gotten on my longer board. I caught and rode a bunch of waves, maybe upwards of ten. A couple had shoulders that let me feel the speed and responsiveness of the new board, hereinafter called Rocket.

I rode one in and left the water with a perma-grin stuck to my face; so stoked! Rocket and I are going to be very good friends. I can't wait to see where it's going to take me.

Surfline: Old, fading W (250-290+) swell is reduced to leftovers as small S (170-190) Southern Hemi energy blends in. Expect inconsistent waist-chest high+ waves at average exposures, while the better breaks occasionally hit shoulder high. A nearly 6' high tide tops out around 11am, so expect things to slow down as we move through the morning. Westerly wind adds some texture and crumble to the openly exposed areas now. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 6.6 ft at 8.3 s NW 93 / WIND WAVE: 5.2 ft at 5.0 s NW / WVHT: 8.2 ft / APD: 6.6 s / MWD: 311° (Met) WSPD: 16 kts / GST: 19 kts / WVHT: 8.2 ft / DPD: 8.0 s / WDIR: 310° / ATMP: 54.5° F / WTMP: 53.2° F. Tide: 4' rising to 5'.

10 November 2011

Birthday Party Wave (Linda Mar)

Emily and Max, ready to paddle out
The weather forecast was wrong, oh so wrong. And that's a good thing. My birthday dawned sunny and nearly windless, instead of south windy, overcast and maybe raining. The cams also showed flat surf, but my faith in predictions that swell was on the way was not as misplaced as my belief in the weather forecast. Lake Linda Mar had roused by noon, offering up to chest-high waves in the middle of the beach where Emily and Max paddled out with me.

I regretted that Scott had talked me into a birthday mimosa at lunch, because my timing was off and kooked up the first few waves I caught. Soon enough it wore off, and I got a few nice rides, including a right that flattened out and reformed into a left as I navigated around a guy paddling out. Fun! I took it nearly to the beach, where J-Bird was waving from dry sand. She'd just come from a meeting and didn't have her surf gear, but offered to use my camera to take photos from the beach. Here they are:
Birthday party wave! Max, Emily and me.
Emily and Max left when I rode a wave in to retrieve my camera from J-Bird, the lens sadly fogged from the temperatures changes and residual moisture inside. I wanted to get one or two more waves and Deepak joined me in the lineup, but the wave quality was dropping with the fast-falling tide and rising south wind and swell. It was hard to find a shoulder among the hard closeouts. At last I snagged a right that didn't slam shut immediately and came in smiling. I must've been a good girl this year, to get such a nice day and fun surf with my friends on my birthday. Stoked!
Surfline: Starting to build and still very clean. Shape is on the walled up side with some corners and will likely worsen through the afternoon as the tide drops and the swell builds. We're seeing a definite increase in new West swell (270-290) already. Conditions are still clean with light SE/ESE wind and surf is in the 4-5'+ range at the better breaks, with standouts up to a couple feet++ overhead. Look for a building trend through the afternoon, with many breaks getting better with the dropping tide. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 6.9 ft at 11.4 s WNW 92 / WIND WAVE: 3.0 ft at 4.8 s SSW / WVHT: 7.5 ft / APD: 7.2 s / MWD: 285° (Met) WSPD: 12 kts / GST: 14 kts / WVHT: 7.5 ft / DPD: 11.0 s / WDIR: 140° / ATMP: 54.5° F / WTMP: 54.1° F. Tide: 3' falling below 1.'

08 November 2011

Early Birthday Surf (HMB Jetty)

I'm taking Thursday off of work because it's my birthday, and had hoped for a nice, uncrowded and leisurely surf that day. But the forecast is for strong southerly winds tearing up leftover dribbles of swell, so I decided to get in my birthday surf early. If it turns out the predictions are wrong, then I'll just do it again on the right day, like Kelly Slater re-winning his 11th world title.

It was c-c-c-old this morning, only 41F/5C when I pulled into the dirt lot. Darren joined me for dawn patrol but after seeing my texted report, "Glassy WH+", Luke apparently decided to stay in his warm bed. The swell is on the fade and was inconsistent, shifty and backwashy, but there were some fun waves to be plucked from the closeouts.
Darren, first in the water
Two guys paddled out to nearby peaks partway through the session but we had the break otherwise to ourselves. A sea otter floated in the distance, the first I've seen this far north. Our breath steamed in the chilly sunlight as we waited through the lulls. Darren lauded every wave he saw me ride, making me feel a little kookish, but I'll chalk that up to it being more of a challenge for me to get into the small waves on my 7'0" than for him on his longboard. Missing the slow and fat ones, I realized I needed more critical placement, closer to the peak, but misjudged the sweet spot a few times and got rolled in water slightly warmer than the air. I rode a nice left, and a long right with a second drop that took me far along the shore, plus a few others less memorable.
I'm glad Daylight Savings Time has ended so weekday dawn patrols are again possible. There's no better way to start the day!

Surfline: WNW swell-mix backs down through the day today, as small SW swell mixes in. The tide keeps most breaks sluggish early, but expect most to improve quickly as the tide turns around. Winds are light offshore and looking to stay down/offshore through the day. Size is in the shoulder-head high+ range for good exposures, with a few lingering 2-3' overhead sets for standouts. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 5.9 ft at 12.1 s NW 92 / WIND WAVE: 2.3 ft at 4.8 s NW / WVHT: 6.2 ft / APD: 7.3 s / MWD: 316° (Met) WSPD: 12 kts / GST: 14 kts / WVHT: 6.2 ft / DPD: 12.0 s / WDIR: 330° / ATMP: 51.8° F / WTMP: 53.1° F. Tide: under 5' rising to 5.5'.