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'.


  1. If they're already up and riding it's their wave. If you don't think they'll make it around the section then by all means drop in and go. But if they make it around the section you better get off fast.

    Also note that it can be construed as an insult to good surfers if you shoulder hop when they're clearing a section. You are basically saying you don't think they're good enough to make it.

  2. Ditto above comment. Always err on the side of caution. Surfing in SC you can usually tell if someone is "good enough" to get around around a section.