04 January 2011

Green Around the Gills (Indicators/Cowells)

I had high hopes for the first surf of 2011. Since a stormy weekend thrashed my Sunday surf plans with friends (who doggedly went anyway), it was four days into the new year before I got to surf. Big groundswell has the western breaks going well overhead, so a drive south to a more protected spot was in order.
I lucked into a great parking spot, on the street right next to the surf show. A professional photographer was capturing the moves of some really good surfers as Steamer Lane was pumping lovely overhead+ waves through the main peak. The waves dropped in size as they wrapped around the point, with Indicators generally chest- to head-high and Cowells waist- to chest-high, while plus sets were rolling in regularly. I walked across barely-submerged low tide reef and paddled out at Indicators. It was crowded, of course, but that was not to be my biggest problem.

A friendly surfer within 10 feet of me and closer to the peak offered me an incoming wave, which I promptly lost, falling as the wave broke before I reached my feet. D'oh! I don't know if he was watching, but I redeemed myself a few minutes later, getting a long ride on a nice shoulder-high right nearly to outer Cowells. Making my way back to Indicators, I had to turtle-roll under waves several times, and that is when my troubles began.

From my father, I inherited a love of flying (for me, along the face of waves; for him, in small planes), and a big nose. My Streisand-esque schnoz is a splendid scoop for sending seawater swirling through my sinuses to my stomach. One of the reasons I dislike turtle-rolling is that the maneuver is particularly prone to causing seawater ingestion via this route, and during one roll this afternoon I felt it strongly. Uh-oh. I probably should've eaten something right before I got in the water. I take Dramamine before every surf session to forestall the seasickness I suffer periodically. (I suspect it may be a placebo to some extent, since I skipped in in Hawaii last year with no ill effects.) But as my brother the doctor says, there's nothing that can save you from the nausea of seawater in an empty stomach. You'll be fine, I told myself, wanting it to be true, willing it to be true.

I soon discovered that there was a strong eastward current, as I paddled and paddled trying to get back to my spot at Indicators. Eventually I made it, but I couldn't seem to put myself in the right position in the crowd to catch any more of those nice waves, although I got a few short rides. I kept finding myself at the lull point between warbly sections. I decided that at halfway to sunset, I'd travel over to Cowells, where I'd seen a less-crowded peak on the inside. Starting to feel none too good, I stopped paddling against the current and soon drifted to outer Cowells. I caught a few more little rides toward the inside, then a nice long one that took me far in and close to the wharf. The greasy, frying-flesh smells wafting from the wharf restaurants didn't help my worsening condition. I made another long paddle back to an inner peak, but again my positioning was off, and my performance was deteriorating as well. Just one more. I caught a bigger wave as it broke, standing at its top 5 feet above the water surface, and saw a woman perilously close to my landing spot. I knew I had to stick the drop lest I land on her, and I did, though the whitewater tossed me just after.

The nausea had now become so strong I wanted nothing more than to curl up on the sofa wrapped in a blanket. All the joy sucked from my surf session, it was time to go. Now I wanted any wave, whitewater, whatever, as long as it could push me to the beach. Two such rides later, I dragged out on the sand, with miles to go before I could rest. Un-stoked.

Surfline: New WNW-NW groundswell is on the rise this afternoon, as some small Southern Hemi swell mixes in and our old WNW swell mix drops out. Better breaks are good for chest-shoulder-head high+ surf, with some occasional 2-3' overhead sets working through at top exposures. Light Westerly winds keep conditions fairly clean through town, with most breaks offering up some scattered, workable corners as the tide heads for a negative low, bottoming out right around 4:30pm. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 8.9 ft at 16.0 s WNW 01 / WIND WAVE: 1.0 ft at 3.6 s NNE / WVHT: 8.9 ft / APD: 11.2 s / MWD: 288°. Tide: Negative low.

1 comment:

  1. Don't feel too bad, you are in fine company. Layne Beachley just did the Sydney to Hobart yacht race and was seasick the whole way. Ironic when you consider what she is capable of as a surfer!