30 October 2011

Into the Fog (Linda Mar)

All photos/video taken with my new Panasonic Lumix TS3, except as noted.

Before I left this morning, I checked the Linda Mar cam on Surfline and saw nothing but fog. Steamer Lane, which is slightly predictive of the cam-less Jetty, was tiny to flat. I had little hope that the Jetty would have waves for me, but I did have a little hope. Alas, the indicators were right; double-overhead to a mouse on the sunny edge of the low cloud bank. Not wanting to surf alone, I drove north into the fog. I didn't stop at Montara, where a great white shark was seen last week, but it looked unruly in glimpses from the road.
Tiny waves on the edge of fog at the Jetty (Google Nexus One)
At Linda Mar, the fog was pushed back from the beach so I could see the lineup. The south end was packed, and the parking lot was filling up.
Busy on the south end at Linda Mar
I spied with my little eye a left popping up near the pumphouse with just a few guys on it.
With some underlying short-period windswell in the water, it was a bit of effort to paddle out, but I drew on my swim-sprint strength to get to the outside, breathing hard when I reached it.
Wave selection was key since so many of the waves were closing out, and I do think I'm getting better at making those judgments. I caught an almost head-high left that was surprisingly fast, turning on the shoulder, going with the flow. Woot! The shoulder held up for a bit but I dropped off when the wave broke to avoid repeating the paddle out through an excess of whitewater. I rode a few more fun lefts, shoulder-high or better. It's so much easier to see what the wave's doing and respond when the face is in front of me instead of behind my back. I love lefts!
After a brief appearance the sun retreated into the fog, which then grew even heavier. There was a strong southward current which many in the water seemed not to notice. Maybe that's why there were so many people at the south end; they were getting pushed down there and piling up. I was keeping an eye on the pumphouse, my shore reference point, and constantly paddling back against the current to my spot, which was staying pretty empty despite the growing crowd. But I've been fighting a virus since last week, and too soon my energy faded and I started to make mistakes. I caught one last fun left, this time riding it all the way to the shallows. A short but oh-so-sweet session!
Surfline: NW (300-320) wind/groundswell mix blends with small-scale S-SW Southern Hemi energy this morning. Waist-chest-shoulder high surf continues at the decent exposures, while top breaks hit head high on the best sets. Fairly light wind now under foggy skies. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 4.9 ft at 11.4 s NW 90 / WIND WAVE: 3.3 ft at 5.6 s NW / WVHT: 5.9 ft / APD: 6.1 s / MWD: 309° (Met) WSPD: 12 kts / GST: 16 kts / WVHT: 5.9 ft / DPD: 11.0 s / WDIR: 330° / ATMP: 54.9° F / WTMP: 58.8° F. Tide: Rising through 3.5'.

25 October 2011

Coaching: Benefits of Training (Sharks)

Surfline got everyone's hopes up for a northwest swell bump today, but then downgraded the forecast just before it arrived. The swell had shifted more northerly and wasn't making it in much to the town breaks. I was to meet my surf coach Barry for a sunset session on the the tail of his afternoon lesson. I parked next to his Vanagon and reached the beach a couple minutes past the appointed hour. Someone who looked like him was waving persistently from the lineup, and while I wasn't certain the gesture was directed at me, I paddled out to the large crowd waiting for chest-high waves. Turned out it wasn't Barry, and I didn't see him anywhere in the water.
The crowd at the Hook was ridiculous (don't these people check the surf cams?!), and I worked my way right toward the fringes. Twenty minutes later, I was no closer to finding Barry or a wave to myself, so I thought I'd catch one in and see if I couldn't find him on land. Moving to the outer edge of the pack and inside, I snatched a little wave no one else made and picked my way carefully over sea-grass-covered reef to the pocket of sand by the stairs. I located Barry in the parking lot with the woman from the afternoon lesson, and we headed back to the shore to paddle out at less-crowded Sharks.
The waves were smaller at Sharks with shorter shoulders, almost like the Jetty with a lot more kelp. I rode a bunch, working one over a flatish section to an inside reform. Although the breeze made me chilly as the sun set, it was nice to surf again sans hood and gloves. Barry said he can see that I've gotten stronger; the swim sprints and inverted Bosu training are paying off. My wave judgment is improving, and I'm moving more confidently to be at the critical point for takeoff, then getting quicker to my feet and turning. When I've recovered from last week's wrist tweak of unknown origin, I'll add in push-ups and pull-ups ot failure. Still, I need to work on going for waves sooner with less initial hesitation, and look more down the wave once I'm on it to work in some up and down turns. I was trying to do that tonight, but most of the waves didn't offer a lot of space to maneuver before breaking.

I've only just started to use my new skateboard, which will help me get the feel of tighter turns. Since I live on a hill I've been riding it on the flats around work, inspiring surprised and bemused comments from my coworkers. Ah, well, eventually they got used to seeing my surfboard in my cubicle, so I expect they'll get inured to my skateboard too. One of them remarked that I always seem to be having so much fun and enjoying life - and yeah, I guess I am!
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.” -Helen Keller
Surfline: Mid-period WNW (290-310) swell mix builds in through the day and peaks, as small NW windswell mixes in, with waist-chest-shoulder high surf at the better exposed breaks. Standouts see some larger waves up to head high on the best tides. New south swell starts to very slowly creep up. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 9.5 ft at 10.0 s NW 89 / WIND WAVE: 1.3 ft at 4.0 s WNW / WVHT: 9.5 ft / APD: 8.7 s / MWD: 318° (Met) WSPD: 10 kts / GST: 12 kts / WVHT: 9.5 ft / DPD: 10.0 s / WDIR: 320° / ATMP: 55.4° F / WTMP: 58.5° F. Tide: Zero rising to 1.5'.

23 October 2011

Smashing Pumpkins (HMB Jetty)

Today's semi-monthly mass surf meetup was to be followed by skating. At the suggestion of my surf coach, I just bought a skateboard, a Sector 9 Orange Crush. I've never had a desire to ride a skateboard, since falling on pavement is significantly more unkind than falling in water. But Barry rightly pointed out that not much of a surf session is actually spent riding waves, so a good way to get more time on my feet practicing turns would be to do that on a skateboard. So OK, I'm in. I was surprised to learn how many of my surf buddies also skate; in fact, it's most of them. And a couple offered to show me the ropes this morning.

Unfortunately today's surf 'n' skate plans kind of fell apart, so it's a good thing I bugged my coworker David into giving me some skating tips in a parking lot near work Friday. Still, several of us met up at the Jetty to surf. By the time I finally arrived, Luke, John, Heather and her husband Eric had already suited up, and I was badly in need of surf, determined pumpkin seekers having turned my normally half-hour drive to the Jetty into a trek of more than an hour and fifteen minutes. I checked the traffic to the beach on 511.org before I left, and it falsely showed yellow, just a little slowing. In real life, the line of cars started backing up on Highway 92 before I'd crested the mountain, and it was stop-and-go black almost to the coast road.
When at last the pumpkins came into view, I fantasized about driving my car through the field, smashing the lot of them. What insanity drives people to sit in such ridiculous traffic, just to pluck a pumpkin from a slightly muddy field, when they could buy one with their groceries at the supermarket for a lot less hassle? It defies comprehension. Needless to say, I was ready to scream by the time I pulled into the dirt lot at the Jetty. I knew the waves would be small there (and in fact had suggested relocating to a venue more open to the NW swell), but I needed to get wet ASAP and enjoy the company of my friends.
The traffic frustration started to wash off as soon as whitewater splashed my face on the paddle out, and disappeared with my first ride. We had fun party-waving the (at best) waist-high peelers. "Low Tide" John called me into waves with "Go, Flea!" The waves were tiny but offered shoulders, and I rode a bunch, almost all rights, despite being on my 7'0" when my friends were all on longboards. After Luke and then Heather and Eric left, Andy joined us, followed by Erin on her brand new surfboard when John switched off babysitting duties. The little girls rode my old 5'8" Xanadu Rocky in the whitewater. It was a gorgeous summer day in October, warm air and not-too-cold-water for a hoodless and gloveless experience, and I enjoyed the sensation of cold water flowing through my fingers once I got used to the shock of the chill. Waves, sun, friends - who could ask for anything more? (Well, some bigger waves, but that's what I get for hanging with longboarders!)
My old 5'8" Xanadu Rocky, resting on the beach in the left foreground
Surfline: Short-period NW (295-315) swell continues as small SSW (190-210) groundswell begins to ease. Things looks fairly soft/inconsistent initially as the tide approaches a 5'+ high. Decent breaks see knee-waist high waves, while top spots get inconsistent larger sets (especially as the tide begins to drop). Conditions are nice with light wind. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 5.2 ft at 7.7 s NW 88 / WIND WAVE: 1.3 ft at 4.0 s NW / WVHT: 5.6 ft / APD: 6.6 s / MWD: 325° (Met) WSPD: 2 kts / GST: 2 kts / WVHT: 5.6 ft / DPD: 8.0 s / WDIR: 110° / ATMP: 61.7° F / WTMP: 57.7° F. Tide: 3.5' falling below 2'.

19 October 2011

An Absence of Dolphins (Kelly Ave)

There are some movie images so disturbing that they lodge in my mind indelibly. (This is why I don't watch horror movies.) One is from a murder mystery I saw years ago called Gorky Park: a multitude of writhing maggots eating the flesh off of a skull to prepare it for facial reconstruction. I fear another may be of the shark in Soul Surfer taking Bethany Hamilton's arm, rising without warning from the sun-sparkling sea, its huge sharp-toothed mouth agape; one bite and gone, leaving behind a spreading red stain. I couldn't stop seeing it as I bobbed all alone in the ocean under gloomy skies just after dawn. Plans to meet up with surf buddies fell through at the last minute and because dawn comes so late this time of year (no thanks to Daylight Savings Time), I didn't have time to drive anywhere else before work. Yet I wasn't going to skunk myself since there were decent waist- to shoulder-high waves within reach. I hoped for a stranger to paddle out and join me, but no one did. A guy walked his dog on the beach and another stood staring out to sea, but I was almost out of sight of the campground.

Last week a great white twice buzzed surfers at Mavericks just over 3 miles away. And two nights ago, while filming a surfing scene at Steamer Lane for Of Men and MavericksHolly Beck saw a shark pass under her surfboard. We like to tell ourselves that sharks don't come into the Santa Cruz town breaks because of the kelp, but it seems that's not the case (or perhaps the rules change at night). We also tell ourselves that sharks don't stay around dolphins (maybe another little fiction), but although there have been dolphin sightings at surf breaks up and down the coast recently, none of those benign sea mammals were currently at Kelly. All these unfortunate thoughts were sloshing about in my head this morning.
I timed my entry well and had a dry-hair paddle but didn't stop far enough out. Caught inside by a set, I took a right from the whitewater and then turned back for more. I rode a nice chest-high left as far as it would go, suddenly seeing the beach rushing up toward me. I bailed off the back in the shallows and grabbed my board, running onto dry sand to get out of the shorepound impact zone. Rinse, and repeat; another fun left, another shore dance. Two waves in a row, the ocean had spit me onto the sand. Perhaps it was telling me to get out of the water? A seal - shark food! - swam by just outside the shorebreak, pausing to look at me with big doe-eyes. Another warning? My rational mind dismissed the thought that the ocean had any benevolent sentience that was trying to protect me from unseen lurking predators, and I paddled out again. Still, I couldn't calm the persistent uneasiness, the feeling of being watched by a malevolence, so I decided to catch one more and go in. Of course a lull ensued. Looking into the murky green water, barely able to see down to my bootie-clad feet, I waited, finally grabbing some whitewater to shore.

Later Heather told me that many shark attack victims claim to have sensed something before they were struck. Was I lucky? Or just a victim of an overactive imagination? I'm glad I'll never know.

Surfline: Soft, crumbly, broken up little lines working through this morning at most breaks off a small mix of NW and SSW swell. Most of the region is good for surf in the 2-3' range, with some occasional larger sets in the chest/shoulder high range at top exposures. Onshore flow and bumpy, jumbled surf keep the surf pretty unappealing across the region. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 3.9 ft at 10.0 s WNW 87 / WIND WAVE: 1.0 ft at 4.2 s W / WVHT: 3.9 ft / APD: 7.4 s / MWD: 300° (Met) WSPD: 8 kts / GST: 12 kts / WVHT: 3.9 ft / DPD: 10.0 s / WDIR: 310° / ATMP: 59.5° F / WTMP: 58.6° F. Tide: 4'.

16 October 2011

In the Good Company of Strangers (HMB Jetty)

Last night I watched Soul Surfer, fast-forwarding through the religious parts. While the shark was on camera for probably less than a second, the image of it surfacing to bite off young surfer Bethany Hamilton's arm stuck with me. I'd heard Montara was good yesterday but with all of my buddies unavailable, I wanted to surf somewhere with less of a sharky feel. The Landlord was seen twice at Mavericks last week, but the Jetty seemed safe enough and I expected it to be picking up the south swell. I was happy with my choice, since when I drove by Montara later it looked as crowded as Linda Mar but with better waves.

I got a bit of a late start for almost-dawn patrol and was surprised to find there was already traffic at 7 am on Highway 92 for the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival. Still, no one was out at the Jetty. The ocean was glassy and there were some fun-sized waves to play on.
Friday in Santa Cruz I was fine without my hood and gloves, so I left them in the car. As soon as I started paddling I realized I'd made a mistake on the gloves. The water was decidedly colder than in Monterey Bay. Forcing myself to put bare hands in the chilly sea, I caught a small right and rode it to shore, setting my board above the tide line and crossing the street to my car. I passed a couple of guys suiting up, and I think they may have been snickering when I said I was going back for my gloves. When they joined me in the lineup a few minutes later, cursing the cold water, they told me I was right. Soon after, their buddy paddled up. All three were friendly and cheery, nice company in the lineup.

A pod of dolphins cruised by just outside of us. It's always a treat to see them, but unfortunately I didn't have a camera since my Pentax Optio W90 decided to malfunction after Friday's session. I'm giving it a good dry out to see if it will come back to full life, but may be shopping for a new waterproof point-and-shoot soon. For sure, it will not be a Pentax.
I rode a few lefts and a couple rights, happy that a fair number of waves were holding up shoulders. I was already going for a shoulder-high right when one of the shortboarders called me into it. It was my best wave of the day, peeling almost to shore. Back in the lineup, the same guy said "Nice wave!"
A long lull followed, so I asked the next surfer to paddle out if he'd put a quarter in the wave machine. I guess he must have because it picked up after that, and I rode a couple more, chatting with the also-friendly new guy in between. With a set wave incoming, he said "This one's all yours if you want it," and then "It's coming right at you," such that I felt I should paddle for it, although I thought I was too deep. Should've listened to my own judgment, because I was, and the wave broke on me, flipping me over, my core muscles tightening to protect my back which nevertheless cracked lightly. (I read about a surfer who had his back tweaked wiping out, and later another wipeout put it right again. But no such luck; the chronic pain lingers on.) I then learned that the guy was on his second surf after being out of the water for five years. He complained about choosing closeouts this morning and was on a fish too, a poor board choice for the steeper waves on offer. And I listened to him why? While my wave judgment isn't great, it's decent and getting better, and I need to trust myself more.
I waited through a shorter lull until another wave came for me. Paddling right to get into position, I popped up for a nice chest-high drop and kept on the face until the section closed, then took a foamy white-water ride to the beach. Stoked!

Surfline: It's a mix of old NW swell and fun-sized S-SSW (180-200) energy that's good for knee-waist high+ waves at decent exposures. Top breaks hit chest-shoulder high on the better sets. We're dealing with generally light wind early for smooth surface conditions now. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 3.9 ft at 14.8 s SSW 86 / WIND WAVE: 1.0 ft at 3.7 s SSE / WVHT: 4.3 ft / APD: 7.6 s / MWD: 208° (Met) WSPD: 8 kts / GST: 12 kts / WVHT: 4.3 ft / DPD: 15.0 s / WDIR: 160° / ATMP: 58.8° F / WTMP: 57.7° F. Tide: Just under to just over 3.5'.
Pomponio State Beach looked fun in the afternoon and these guys were ripping. Someday...


Last year for Blog Action Day, I wrote about water. While the connection between surfing and water is obvious, when I read that this year's topic is food, at first I didn't think I'd have anything to write about on my surfing blog. But on second thought, there are quite a few links.

Fish made of plastic beach trash
Our beaches are littered with the discarded containers of our convenience-food society. At the Jetty last Sunday, covering a short section of high-tide beach on my way from the surf to the road, I picked up an empty plastic Pepsi bottle, a large plastic 7-Eleven drink cup, and a plastic lid from a jar of pretzels, and deposited them in the roadside trash can 30 feet away. A growing number of cities have banned plastic grocery bags, but until more do, they'll continue to litter our shores and seas. I recently visited the Washed Ashore Exhibit at the Marine Mammal Center and learned of a whale who had been found dead with over 300 lb (136 kg) of trash in her belly. When coastal visitors choose the convenience of free plastic bags at the grocery store instead of bringing their own, beverages in plastic bottles instead of re-usable ones, or sandwiches in zip-lock bags instead of tupperware, and then don't have enough respect for the planet and other beach-goers to haul out what they hauled in, the result is non-biodegradable trash on our beaches that washes into the ocean to be mistaken for food by the animals who call it home. And that's a crying shame.

Ouflow from an abalone farm
Our food choices also affect water quality. Runoff into the ocean from agricultural operations can introduce pathogens that make surfers sick Fertilizer flowing from coastal farms triggers algae blooms that are toxic to some marine wildlife. While generally harmless to humans, some surfers, like my buddy Manabu, experience an allergic reaction to these "red tides." Large animal factory farms are a major contributor to water quality issues, especially on the east coast, and are responsible for growing ocean "dead zones." (For these environmental reasons but primarily ethical ones, I've been vegan for many years. It's easier than you think.)

Recently California banned shark-finning, an Asian food choice that has had devastating affects on the shark population. A variety of superstitions are spooned up with expensive shark fin soup, but the reality is that fishers cut the fins from slow-reproducing sharks and throw them back into the ocean to die, leading to a significant decline in the population. As a surfer with a niggling fear of being chomped by one of the Men in Gray Suits, perhaps attracted to the lineup by fishers casting bait into the lineup in search of smaller swimmers to fill their bellies, I admit to being a bit conflicted on this issue. After all, fewer sharks in the ocean means less risk of being mistaken for a seal in my mostly-black wetsuit. But I'm only a tiny bit conflicted; shark-finning is wrong, plain and simple, and I applaud my state for outlawing it.

Litter, runoff, finning and fishing: all ways that what we choose to eat affects the ocean in which we play.

14 October 2011

Of Men and Mavericks (Pleasure Point/Hook)

I took today off from work to be a surfer extra - in Hollywood-speak, a "background artist" - in a movie filming locally about Jay Moriarty, lamely entitled Of Men and Mavericks. (Update: Now retitled Chasing Mavericks, this film opens 26 October 2012.)

Heather and I met up at Starbucks and caravanned to street parking a few blocks from the meetup location at a park on 38th Ave. They wanted us there at 6 am, still dark and far too early. After a disorganized check-in, we waited hours to be called. Totally could've gone surfing in the interim, if only we'd known.
Gathering in the park to receive sparse information
Probably the safest place for a board
Finally we suited up - no gloves or hood today! - and headed to the slimy stairs at 38th Ave. It was near high tide, and they were overcautious in helping the extras into the water. The line was long and slow.
The line to leave the park
The line for the 38th Ave stairs
Nemo resting, Heather waiting
The Santa Cruz Patch caught me waiting in line for the stairs:
Where's Cynthia?
Movie star Gerard Butler, who plays Jay's coach Frosty, was escorted through the crowd to the overlook.
Star Gerry Butler surveys the scene
When at last we reached the cool water, Heather left me in the dust, paddling quickly out on her longboard to the camera and support boats while I took a little longer on my 5'4" fish Nemo. Still, I blew past a family that clearly had never surfed and was floundering around like the star of Blue Crush 2 (limp-wristed paddling). We'd been instructed to form just a half-circle on the beach side, and I found Heather on the left end at the back.
When they said the left was bloated and we needed to move right, I abandoned her in search of better viewing.
Heather, waiting
On the right side, I somehow wormed my way closer to the front, until I was in the first row. I'm pushy that way, and it helped that I was on little Nemo.
Eventually the director explained the scene. After a woman in the canoe played the end of a Hawaiian song, Gerry would yell "To Jay" while throwing water into the air. A few seconds later, we extras were to do the same. They needed to shoot this from several camera angles from both the boats and the water, so we repeated it five or six times. People kept jumping the gun, to the director's exasperation. 
After about the fourth try, Gerry gave a little speech through the bullhorn, trying to set the mood. On the next two takes, his voice broke badly. I'm curious to see what ends up in the movie. And, of course, if I'm in it!
Holly Beck is in the middle distance
I saw Holly Beck sitting on a longboard between the camera boats, and wanted to paddle over to say hi. I thought I might get stopped, but I tend to follow the adage that it's better to ask forgiveness than permission, so what the hell. And in fact no one said a word. I introduced myself and chatted with Holly for a little while. She's gotten hair extensions and highlights in order to surf-double for the woman who plays Jay's girlfriend. Holly is just as nice as everyone's told me and I'm looking forward to spending a week at her surf retreat in Nicaragua in January.
The real Frosty (left) with Gerry who plays him (right)
I watched the next-to-last take with Holly, getting a vantage similar to what we'll eventually see in theaters. Then I paddled back around to the group, looking for Heather. One more take and they called lunch, and I couldn't find her in the crowd. I started to paddle toward the less crowded stairs at 36th Ave, but the waves at Pleasure Point were beaconing. My arc curved toward them and I made the long paddle, stopping on the inside. I didn't have high hopes jumping down from my 7'0" to a 5'4" fish, but I surprised myself by catching a decent number of waves. It was quite bumpy, and I once got thrown by an upjolt as I tried to pop up; it was like fighting double gravity. But the main trouble was that the board was squirrelly under my feet, and I couldn't stay on it. The only time I got my feet planted and stable in the right spot, ready to ride, the wave petered out. Boo. Still, it gives me confidence that I'll be able to transition smoothly down to my new 6'2", the 7'0" made smaller.
Pleasure Point
Riding/tumbling in one last time, I paddled over to the 36th Ave stairs and headed back to the park, passing Heather on the way. She was just leaving in time to make her stint at the Marine Mammal Center, skipping the second full-circle paddle-out to be filmed by helicopter. I'd already been there over 8 hours and there was no telling when they'd get it together for the next shoot. Hungry and disappointed in the lack of vegan options for lunch, I decided to bail as well and head to Whole Foods for something more filling than an orange and chips (vegan pizza, yeah!). The Hook was on my way back to the car so I went out for another quick session. Similar results, although I wish I could've stayed on the left at the last.
The Hook
Paddling muscles very tired, I hit the road for home. Such a better way to spend a warm sunny day than in my cubicle!

Surfline: Steadily fading NW groundswell combines with a slow building SSW swell through the afternoon. Size has really come down and things are looking pretty slow at the moment with the tide just topping out. Waist high and under waves are the norm while standout exposures are up to chest-shoulder high on inconsistent sets. Winds are light and the surf should speed up a bit through the remainder of the day as the tide drops back out. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 4.9 ft at 11.4 s WNW 85 / WIND WAVE: 1.3 ft at 3.8 s NW 84 / WVHT: 4.9 ft / APD: 7.7 s / MWD: 296° (Met) WSPD: 4 kts / GST: 4 kts / WVHT: 4.9 ft / DPD: 11.0 s / WDIR: 350° / ATMP: 60.4° F / WTMP: 59.0° F. Tide: Around 4' falling.

13 October 2011

Bunny Slope (38th Ave)

Two of my buddies bailed on me for dawn patrol, but I finally managed to coax my coworker David into the water. He'd told me it had been a while since he last surfed, but I didn't learn until this morning that it's been two years, during which time he said his wetsuit apparently shrunk a little (ha!).
Although they weren't filming until noon, the 41st lot was blocked off for the "Of Men and Mavericks" crew so we had to park on the street. The Hook looked fun if lully but was already packed before sunrise, so we paddled out at 38th where conditions were more suited to my rusty friend.

David's sole wetsuit is only a 3/2, but the water and air were so warm this morning that he was fine. I was toasty in my new Xcel Infiniti 4/3, but not uncomfortably so, although I did have to put my hood down after a while.

Sets were inconsistent and when I found myself inside of a bigger breaking wave, I decided to hop on and ride it hopefully into a reform. It didn't, but I got a long whitewater ride nonetheless, and then had a long paddle back out. The rest of my waves were all green, many missed by the longboarders sitting outside. The skill level of the competition was decidedly down from recent sessions at the Hook. I caught a bunch of looong rights, with lots of time to turn on the face. The waves were slow, mushy, and only about chest-high. It took David a few to get the rhythm again, but then he was up and riding.
It was a fun session on a beautiful warm summery morning, but I found myself looking longingly at the bigger waves at the Point, and if I'd had more time would've relocated to the Hook after David left to make a meeting. I think I need to be a little bit scared anymore in order to get a big burst of stoke. The size of my desired waves keeps getting bigger, and I'm curious to see how high it will eventually climb.
Tomorrow, I'm an extra in the Mavs movie, along with 1000 other surfers who will re-create the paddle-out for Jay Moriarty at Pleasure Point. Should be an interesting day.

Surfline: Knee- to shoulder-high. Clean, lined up surf working through. Inconsistent, but still a few okay corners to be had. Healthy WNW (290-310+) groundswell steadily backs down. Better exposures are good for more chest-shoulder-head high waves, as standout NW breaks offer up lingering sets running 2-3' overhead. Look for shape to stay pretty good through the morning with the incoming tide push, before eventually slowing down approaching a 5'+ high late this morning. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 8.5 ft at 12.9 s WNW 83 / WIND WAVE: 2.6 ft at 5.3 s NW / WVHT: 8.9 ft / APD: 8.6 s / MWD: 303° (Met) WSPD: 12 kts / GST: 14 kts / WVHT: 8.9 ft / DPD: 11.0 s / WDIR: 320° / ATMP: 57.9° F / WTMP: 57.4° F. Tide: Just under 3' rising to almost 4'.

09 October 2011

Bouncy (HMB Jetty)

Yesterday Scott and I drove to Half Moon Bay for lunch and a beach walk via Pacifica to avoid the horrible traffic from pumpkin-seekers on Highway 92. As we approached NorCal Surf Shop, I thought, might as well stop in on the outside chance they have an Xcel Infiniti 4/3 in women's size 4. In the wetsuit section, I gravitated toward the few with a bit of color in a sea of black, and the smallest of those was just what I was looking for. I tried it on and the fit seemed pretty good, so I plunked down my credit card and walked out with it, after hearing that they'd just put the suit out on the rack. Serendipity!

New wetsuit in my Trunq gear box, I got to the Jetty just past dawn to beat a 5'+ high tide midmorning and pumpkin traffic. It didn't look like there was a lot going on and three surf-checkers decided to keep driving. They missed out, because outside of those lulls, chest- to head-high sets were rolling through.
The incoming tide kept things bouncy. I paddled for a left only to get lifted out the back by a reflected wave returning from the riprap wall protecting the highway. Unlike Friday, I did wipeout today, and silently reprimanded myself for not concentrating enough on wave judgment. On one wave I crashed when I tried to turn too soon, before I was planted on the board. Timing. I got a handful of short rides but none memorable. The two guys who'd just beat me into the water were joined by a few more and then another few, making a small crowd of ten on just two working peaks. I triangulated at a good postion away from the pack and was amused (and a bit annoyed) when they all ended up surrounding me. A shortboarder was getting a lot of rides, some of them of the turn-and-stroke-twice-into-it variety. Not there yet.
The lulls grew longer and I remarked to a guy nearby that the tide was starting to shut it down. He asked, "Are you Surfergrrrl?" I confessed it, and he introduced himself as Mark. He was on his first surf with his new shortboard, and I hope got some good waves after I left. I was responding to his questions about my camera when I saw an incoming right walling up behind him, so as I finished my sentence, I paddled into position and caught it. It was my wave of the day. Not taking the nearly head-high drop all the way down, I turned as soon as I was solidly to my feet and rode the face. The wave started to break but then reformed and I got another little drop, riding on almost to the wall. Woot!

I paddled back out to Mark grinning and thinking that I couldn't possible top that ride, but a few minutes later got another almost as sweet. As Emily says, stokey stoke!

Surfline: NW swell continues to fade today, mixing with easing SW-SSW (195-210) energy. Decent exposures see waist-chest-shoulder high waves early, while top breaks hit head high on occasion. Light wind prevails for generally clean surface conditions. A mid-morning 5'+ high tide slows things down later. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 4.9 ft at 7.7 s NW 82 / WIND WAVE: 3.6 ft at 5.3 s NW / WVHT: 6.2 ft / APD: 5.9 s / MWD: 311° (Met) WSPD: 12 kts / GST: 16 kts / WVHT: 6.2 ft / DPD: 8.0 s / WDIR: 330° / ATMP: 55.2° F / WTMP: 57.2° F. Tide: 3.5' rising to 4.5'.

07 October 2011

Coaching: Putting it All Together (The Hook)

We've had an early and unpleasant taste of winter this week, with a couple of rainstorms sweeping through ahead of a cold high pressure system. That brought sunshine for dawn patrol but also air temperatures only in the upper 40s F (less than 10C). I paddled out with Barry at the Hook just after a beautiful sunrise. The set waves were overhead, clean with a light offshore. It wasn't too crowded, but most of the surfers in the crowd were pretty good.

I caught an overhead right and as I took the drop, I saw someone on the wave behind me, so I bailed, ungracefully. Turned out I could've stayed on; it was only Barry, who said he was blocking for me. The next wave was all mine, a 6-footer in Barry's estimate; I made the exciting drop into an immediate backside turn on the mid-face and rode the green until it closed out ahead. Stoked!

There were long lulls between sets and the high tide was slowing things down. I rode another right, then waited, shivering, for the next one. (I returned my Insulator wetsuit to Rip Curl for repairs, but unfortunately they didn't deign to fix all of the busted seams.) While I missed a few waves I paddled for, spray from the offshore sometimes blinding me, I didn't wipeout during the session.
Finally I saw a wave peaking to my right and moved toward it, turning at the last and checking one more time over my shoulder - good to go - before paddling into it with commitment, popping up, turning fast - woot! I'm getting closer to having the entry steps down, and then it will be time to concentrate more on what comes next.

Surfline: Looking a little shifty/warbly, but offering some good, lined up corners at times. Sets are running 1-2' overhead. SW (205-220) groundswell tops out today as old NW (290-310+) mid-period swell fades. Better exposures are still in the waist-chest-head high range, with sets running 1-2' overhead for top exposures. Conditions are mostly clean with light Northerly winds. The tide peaks around 8:30am, so expect a lot of spots to be a little sluggish early. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 8.2 ft at 10.8 s NW 81 / WIND WAVE: 2.0 ft at 3.8 s NW / WVHT: 8.5 ft / APD: 7.6 s / MWD: 315° (Met) WSPD: 10 kts / GST: 12 kts / WVHT: 8.5 ft / DPD: 11.0 s / WDIR: 330° / ATMP: 56.8° F / WTMP: 57.7° F. Tide: Rising slightly to 4.5' high.

03 October 2011

Blue Crush 2 Review

In 2002, Blue Crush came out in theaters, just before we moved to Cocoa Beach, Florida. That movie, plus Step Into Liquid, enticed me into my first surf lesson on a water-logged 10' foamie. Pushed by the instructor onto a tiny warm wave, I stood up for the first time, and was instantly, irrevocably hooked on surfing.

Blue Crush 2 was released this summer directly to video. Several of my surfer girl friends share a similar history with and affection for the original, so last night I joined J-Bird, Nikki, Heather, Amanda, and Samantha for a screening party at Nikki's house in San Francisco. In honor of the movie, we mixed up Blue Whale drinks (1 part vodka, 2 parts sour mix, 1 part blue curacao, and ice), then mocked it from the couch.

As one would expect from a Hollywood surf flick, there was little attention paid to accuracy with respect to surfing. The studios bank on the average landlubber not noticing disconnects like waves morphing from waist-high as a star paddles to overhead as a real surfer-double rides them. Or one ride going on for the better part of a minute, combining footage of multiple waves so the surfer can improbably string together barrels and airs. The writing is bad, with improbable rivalries and friendships springing up instantaneously and just as quickly reversing. Sweet waves are not on camera as often as one would like, although South African Rosy Hodge does some awesome surfing in the star's place. The gratuitous use of a monkey as a prop is disturbing. But we laughed at the way star Sasha Jackson "Dana" paddled, limp-wristed with only her hands lightly dipping into the water. And we now have a running joke about the best line in the movie, "Dana" to wanna-be love interest "Joel," who's naked but for a towel and has just asked her to stay longer in his surf camper-bus: "You let me know about that swell, OK?" Good times.

A movie about Mavericks surfer and Santa Cruz local Jay Moriarty is about to start filming in NorCal, and I hope that they try harder to get the surfing right. I'm excited to be an extra in the paddle-out scene at Pleasure Point next week!

02 October 2011

Lure of the Dolphins (Teslas)

Mailbox at Teslas
Ever the optimist, I put on sunscreen before I left the house this morning - and was rewarded with sunshine burning off the fog by the time I reached the beach. I checked Kelly first, but the closeouts looking whomping and the shoulders few. The closeouts at Dunes were smaller and more manageable, but I had a feeling the two guys out might soon depart, leaving me uncomfortably alone at a deserted spot in the state park. Too bad none of my buddies could join me at the Church of Surf this morning. The Jetty was smaller still and breaking close to shore. As I pulled my surfboard out of the car I reconsidered; if I don't push my limits, I'll never push past them. The Jetty felt safe and familiar, but I wouldn't find much of a challenge in those tiny waves. And I didn't want to fight the pack at Linda Mar for scraps again. Linda Mar isn't crowded because the waves are better. I turned the car around and headed back towards Dunes, checking a couple spots along the way. The dolphins at "Teslas" lured me into the water there, though I didn't see them again.
Although no one was surfing at Teslas, it's in a residential area so there were frequently people walking and biking past, enough to make me feel comfortable paddling out alone. Since I'd parked in front of Kyle's house, I texted him in case he wanted to come out and play in the waves.
The waist- to chest-high waves were mostly closing out, as everywhere in Half Moon Bay, with a few short-lived shoulders popping up here and there. It was a good opportunity to practice wave judgment and positioning. And I couldn't cheat off of other surfers because there were none. I started slow but got better as the session went on, riding a bunch of those quick shoulders toward the end, both lefts and rights.
It was a glorious warm sunny morning and I could think of no better place to be than in the glassy ocean catching waves. Stoked!

Surfline: Mid-period NW-WNW (280-300+) swell on tap this morning along with small-scale SSW energy for 3-4'+ surf. Top breaks get sets around shoulder-head high. Light wind. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 4.9 ft at 9.1 s NW 80 / WIND WAVE: 1.0 ft at 3.8 s W / WVHT: 4.9 ft / APD: 7.0 s / MWD: 308° (Met) WSPD: 2 kts / GST: 4 kts / WVHT: 4.9 ft / DPD: 9.0 s / WDIR: 130° / ATMP: 58.3° F / WTMP: 58.3° F. Tide: 3' rising slightly.