20 February 2011

Eee Coal-Eye Be Damned (Dunes & HMB Jetty)

After missing out on surfing Rachel's Point last weekend due to lack of a surf buddy, I was eager to get out there today, and Surfline was predicting similar swell conditions to the fun group session two weeks ago. Alas, LOLA let me down, and the waves were much bigger than forecast, going double-overhead on the sets. The smaller inside peak wasn't working, and I watched one of the two guys out on the main peak getting repeatedly pummeled. Luke and I decided to hit Dunes instead.

When I surfed the Jetty on Friday it had already been raining lightly for a while, and there were bits of small brown flotsam (shards of kelp?), so I had reason to suspect the water quality. Surfrider SMC collects samples every Friday, and on Saturday confirmed that the ocean was unsafe for recreation at Surfers' Beach (the landlubber name for the break). Yesterday it rained and rained and rained some more, so I had no reason to believe the water had gotten any cleaner. I mentioned this to Luke as we suited up at Dunes. He said all the rain probably flushed out the contamination, or so he told himself, but anyway, what did it matter: Would knowing the water was dirty keep me from surfing? To which I answered no, without hesitation. As a confessed surf addict, I needed my fix, as did he. Perhaps we surfers rationalize playing in dirty water in similar ways to drug addicts using dirty needles. Sure, there's a risk, but... (Or perhaps I'm stretching the analogy too far and it's going to snap soon.)
Dunes was head-high plus with a handful of surfers scattered on various peaks. With the mix of short- and mid-period swells, it posed a bit of a challenge getting out. I followed Luke along along a weak rip current, and almost made it to the outside before being pulled over the falls on a turtle roll, run through the spin cycle and held down. I tried again, got a somewhat gentler rinse and spin, and attained the outside. I watched Luke paddle for a wave, then disappear behind a tall wall of froth. I wondered if he was rolling underneath, but then saw his head and shoulders appear as he rode fast to the left. Next it was my turn. I paddled as a sizable wave formed up behind me, unable to judge if it wanted to break right or left. I'm not certain now which I chose as I popped up and dropped down the 6' face, although I can guess I picked frontside. But the answer was both; I was on a section, with the wave breaking on either side of me. Remarkably, the section held up, and I turned right, left, right, tacking back and forth to stay in the green zone, until finally the whitewater converged and tossed me off. I turned to paddle back out, but I seemed to have landed in Closeout City far from a rip, unable to make much forward progress against the onslaught of breaking waves. I decided to escape to the beach to find a better path back, and rode a little whitewater in. It deposited me near, but not close enough, and head-high shorepound was threatening to smash me and Emm. A couple of times I moved away from the beach to avoid a beating, then finally found a lull in which to gain my feet and run for my life up onto dry sand. Heart pounding, I sat down to rest. Luke didn't see my OK signal (hands clasped over the head) and came in to check on me. By mutual agreement, we decided to relocate to the Jetty. I took off my gloves, put on my new waterproof Surf-Fur coat over my wetsuit, and drove the few miles north.
There was a bit more breeze on the water at the Jetty with a little crowd, and the waves were a notch down in size, but the paddle out was not so punishing. Regular-foot Luke was complaining that he was only catching lefts, but I seemed to be getting only rights, including a fast fun one with a nice drop. Finally I bagged a good left myself, riding it in close to the roadside rip-rap wall with a couple of sight-seers at the top of it looking on admiringly (or so I imagined).

Alamo Square
Then on a whim I drove into San Francisco to have lunch at yummy Herbivore with my husband, postponing a shower and leaving that possibly dirty water to soak in for a few extra hours. As I headed homeward from the City, I felt the pull of the ocean calling "come back and play!" but a third session was vetoed by my tired paddling muscles. Besides, my stoke tank's pretty full right now.

Surfline: New WNW (260-295) swell tops out early as a minor S-SSW (175-210) Southern Hemi blends in. Shoulder-head high+ waves are common early, while standout WNW exposures go a couple feet overhead on the best sets. Light wind early, although conditions are kinda mixed-up and funky overall. A nearly 6' high tide swamps things out around noon. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 7.9 ft at 10.8 s NW 17 / 9.2 ft at 12.1 s NW 16 / WIND WAVE: 1.3 ft at 3.4 s WNW / WVHT: 9.2 ft / APD: 8.8 s / MWD: 313° (Met) WSPD: 8 kts / GST: 12 kts / WVHT: 9.2 ft / DPD: 12.0 s / WDIR: 320° / ATMP: 49.1° F / WTMP: 52.0° F. Tide: 4' rising to 5'.
Cherry Blossoms on a Sunny Sunday

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