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...

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