31 December 2012

Bittersweet (HMB Jetty)

Fun backwashy waves under crisp sunny skies this morning at the Jetty. But I couldn't help feeling a little melancholy and pre-nostalgic. This was the last surf at my home break, and the last surf with my buddies, before the big move south. And also the last surf of 2012.
Luke, J-Bird and Marcia getting ready to paddle out
Waiting for waves
Jacob pondering the meaning of life, the universe and everything
Surfline: Overlapping WNW swells are in the water today. Surf is a little slow this morning with the new swell filling in and a rising high tide. Still, better spots are in the head high range with standouts going a couple feet+ overhead on sets. Winds are light offshore and surface conditions clean. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 5.9 ft at 19.0 s NW / WIND WAVE: 1.0 ft at 3.8 s WNW 117 / WVHT: 5.9 ft / APD: 7.9 s / MWD: 317° (Met) WSPD: 6 kn / GST: 8 kn / WVHT: 6.2 ft / DPD: 19.0 s / WDIR: 80° / ATMP: 51° F / WTMP: 53° F. Tide: 5' rising slightly to high.

27 December 2012

Moonrise (Cowells)

A strong current made it nigh impossible to get and stay where I needed to be on the fish, but a few fun waves and watching from the water as the full moon rose over the wharf made it worthwhile.
Surfline: Clean conditions through town with NW winds. Fun, consistent surf prevails with primary WNW swell and minor SW swell providing waist-head high waves at good spots and 1-2'+ overhead sets at standouts. Dropping tide. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 9.8 ft at 13.8 s NW 116 / WIND WAVE: 4.9 ft at 6.7 s WNW / WVHT: 10.8 ft / APD: 8.2 s / MWD: 306° (Met) WSPD: 17 kn / GST: 21 kn / WVHT: 12.1 ft / DPD: 13.0 s / WDIR: 320° / ATMP: 52° F / WTMP: 55° F. Tide: negative low.

26 December 2012

More Surf Girl

More of the story from the graphic novel I started last summer with J-Bird. (The beginning is here.) 

 “Nerina! Nerina! Are you OK? Can you hear me?” The words were hitting my ears, faintly. This time when I opened my eyes, I saw Ava on her surfboard, stroking hard and fast in my direction and looking concerned. I lay draped across my board, and felt as if I had swallowed the sea.
By the end of the week I had thoroughly dried out from my ordeal and was itching to surf again. Neither Ava nor any of my other buddies could join me for a sunrise session, so I paddled out alone at my home break. The swell had faded to inconsistent waist-high pop-up peaks. After a few short rides, I waited in the quiet water for the next set and watched the sky turn from pink and orange to pale blue. A flock of pelicans flew low over the surface and a sea otter floated in the near distance. My hand traced an idle circle in the glassy ocean. Unexpectedly, the circle grew wider and stronger, expanding outward and rocking my board as I yanked my hand from the water. Whoa! What the --? When the surface calmed again, I stirred it tentatively, setting up a smaller vortex still vastly out of proportion to my little movement.

“Try it again. But this time, point your hand away.” I looked around startled. There was no one in sight, although the otter had moved closer. In fact, he was swimming directly at me, with a purpose. “Try, Nerina.” The voice was in my head. I pinched my cheek to wake myself from this dream, but it didn’t help.

Osred (illustrated by J-Bird)
The otter was only a few feet away when he stopped to regard me with intelligent eyes. I’d never had an otter come so close before; they are usually shy creatures who keep a deliberate distance when we surfers enter their liquid home. “Let me introduce myself. I am Osred, sent by Silas to help you understand your gift.”

“Silas?” I exclaimed. “But I thought -”

“That was all a near-drowning-induced hallucination?” Osred placed a paw on my board. “I assure you, Nerina, fantastic as it sounds, that was not a dream. Nor are you dreaming now. I am as real as you.” To emphasize his point, he reached out with his other paw and pressed his claws gently into the back of my hand.

“Ouch!” I pulled away, and he settled back into the water.

“See. Real. As are the powers Silas gave you.” Osred turned his gaze toward the curving south end of the bay. “Now, spin your hand in the water again, but point it toward those hills.”

My mind was reeling as an otter sent his thoughts into it, telling a fantastic telepathic tale, but I did as he bid me.

The water swirled around my fingertips, then rolled away as a small wave. I smiled, and spun my hand faster in a bigger circle. The wave grew to head-high, rising from the quiet water to peel off in the distance. I laughed aloud, and spun off an even bigger one that flew toward shore and crashed on the sand like thunder.

Osred clamped a paw on my board again and stared intently into my eyes. “This power is one of many bestowed by Silas, Prince of the Merfolk, in gratitude for your assistance to his beloved Cleodora, and in recognition of your kind and noble heart. Do not take it lightly; it is not a plaything.”

Three surfers were coming down the path to the beach, and Osred glanced at them warily. “I must go now, but we will talk soon. Be well, Nerina, until we meet again.” He turned away and dove into the murky depths, reappearing at a respectable distance. Osred floated on his back, nibbling on a clam, appearing to all the rest of the world as a normal otter.
After Osred left me, I refrained from making any more waves, conscious of the other surfers now in the water nearby. But I wondered what he was talking about when he said Silas gave me other powers. Discretely, I moved my hand over the surface of the sea and up. A column of water rose with it, then fell down as I lost concentration. I tried again, and this time gave it a push. The large splash made the other surfers turn and stare, so I looked nonchalant until they went back to searching the horizon for their next wave. It was all a little much to take in, so I rode a few waves myself before it was time to leave for work.
The break was crowded, and one aggro guy on an yellow shortboard was hogging the waves and sending out bad vibes to the rest of us surfers. Three times he snaked me, forcing me off of waves for which I was best positioned. I’d had enough. The next time, as he paddled in front of me and I backed off, I flicked my fingers in the water and the wave jacked up, steep and high. There was a look of surprise on his face as he missed the unexpected drop and went flying, his board shooting straight in the air as he tumbled and the lip crushed him down. I wasn’t the only one laughing at his wipeout, but I heard a single shrieky whistle behind me and turned to see an otter looking at me from farther out in the kelp. His look was intent and disapproving. “Use your powers for good and not ill, Nerina,” he spoke into my mind. I felt ashamed.
I had to tell someone; I just had to. And who else but my best buddy, Ava? We we surfing at our favorite point break. It was late afternoon but for some unknown reason the crowd was light, with no one in our near vicinity.

“C’mon, you’re kidding me.” Ever the skeptic, Ava wouldn’t believe without proof. So I made a little wave for her. “Awesome!” she exclaimed. “We won’t ever have to endure lulls or flat spells again. What else can you do?”

I smiled. “Well, the other day when I was trying to keep from drifting by hanging on to kelp, I discovered this.” I put my hand in the water, reaching toward a strand of kelp that was several feet away. It swung around toward me, and the leaves came into my waiting hand.

“Too cool!” Ava was impressed. “So what are you going to do with these powers, besides show off to your friends?”

Good question.
“Good. Hold it.” Osred was coaching me in how to control the water, as I kept a hundred droplets suspended in the air. “Now think of ice.” I did, and the droplets turned to hard crystals, falling into the sea as I dropped them in surprise. “Again,” he spoke in my mind.

This time, I raised the water with my hand, froze it, and held the crystals steady with a thought. As I envisioned icicles, they came together into sharp spears. “Throw them!” Osred commanded. I moved my hand away and like little missiles, they flew toward shore and pelted the sea. “Good!” He rolled onto his back and swam in a happy circle before stopping next to my surfboard.

Osred looked around to make sure we were still alone in the ocean in the early morning. “One more thing I will show you this day.” He put his paw on my arm and tugged. “Come with me.” I wasn’t sure what he had in mind, but slipped off my board into the sea. “Take hold of this kelp where I show you.” He dove under the water. I took a deep breath and followed, grasping a stalk of kelp just below the surface. Osred took my other hand and pulled it up into the air, then down across my face. A bubble of air pulled from above encircled my head. I needed to breathe and started to kick upward, but Osred held me down. “You can breathe here, Nerina. Try.” I really wanted to get up to the air, to see the sky, but he was surprisingly strong and kept me where I was. Tentatively, I took a tiny breath from the bubble, then a bigger one. As my respiration grew normal, Osred looked pleased. “For a child of the land, you are a quick learner.”
Seaglass Beach was notoriously dangerous to the unsuspecting, with strong rip currents. Surfers like them, of course, as they provide an easy route to the outside.

To be continued...

25 December 2012

Christmas Waves (Dunes/HMB Jetty)

Santa brought me a San Diego surf map and fun Christmas waves wrapped in sea foam and decorated with raindrops.
Marcia and her Christmas present
Marcia and Ian looking for waves
After seeing that there was not much going on at the Jetty, I met Marcia and Ian at Dunes. Ian had forgotten to load his surfboard but luckily Marcia had an extra one. The waves looked better from the beach - but at least we had it all to ourselves. I'd brought Nemo, not the best board choice as it turned out, so didn't bother to paddle to the outside where head-high+ waves were pitching mostly close-outs. Instead I sat inside and tried for mushy reforms that were surprisingly elusive. At last I caught the remains of an outside bomb that gave me a great ride. I hooted when I made the backside drop and swished into turns on the face as it reformed again and took me close to the beach.
In the shallows, threatening near head-high shore pound blocked my path back out. I decided to say goodbye to Dunes and return to the Jetty, which I expected would have gotten better on the falling tide. Marcia and Ian soon joined me.

There was a little crowd out the at the Jetty, from no one when I'd first checked it, but the waves had indeed improved although they were rather mixed up. We all got some fun rides there, though none of mine matched the hard-earned gem at Dunes. Stoked!
Surfline: Winds are light between storms this morning, but conditions remain a little jumbled up. Swell-wise we have fading/leftover WNW-NW swell and some modest/building new SW (200-210) groundswell on offer. Better exposed breaks are running shoulder to head high+, with some larger sets for top exposed spots running overhead+. Less tide helps. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 5.6 ft at 10.8 s W 115 / WIND WAVE: 2.0 ft at 3.2 s SE 114 / WVHT: 5.9 ft / APD: 7.2 s / MWD: 273° (Met) WSPD: 19 kn / GST: 23 kn / WVHT: 5.9 ft / DPD: 11.0 s / WDIR: 150° / ATMP: 53° F / WTMP: 55° F. Tide: 4' falling to 2'.

20 December 2012

One More Cold One for the Road (Linda Mar)

As an unemployed surf bum, I've been avoiding dawn patrol, especially now that the weather has turned wintry. But last night I saw there might be a small window of decent surf ahead of the next blustery storm - Limited time offer! Act fast! - so I booked an early session with a buddy for added motivation. After all, I couldn't move south without at least one more cold one for the road.
Marcia was already in the water at Boatdocks when I arrived, taking her inaugural surf on her Christmas present, a new longboard with lollipop swirls of red and orange on the bottom. Right off the bat we rode a party wave together, and I knew it was going to be a good session. It wasn't too crowded (maybe one advantage of the cold) and there were lots of fun lefts with shoulders. I got a bunch of good rides, enough that I decided to go bold and try leading with my arms to initiate turns. Why am I not doing this already, you might ask? Well, sometimes it takes watching surf videos - in this case A Girl's Surf Addiction (boring surf porn) and The Surfer's Journal: Biographies: Greats of Women's Surfing (pretty good history of the pioneers) - to remind me of stuff my coach told me long ago. Anyway, it definitely speeds up turning but will take some practice to maintain control and not oversteer.

By the time I rode one in, my toes were froze and my fingers were so numb I had trouble turning the key in the car door lock. The offshore breeze was brisk and I shivered out of my wetsuit. But it was so worth it. Stoked!

Surfline: 3-4 ft + occ. 5 ft, fair conditions. Looking a little walled out on some of the bigger sets, but there are some decent corners to pick off. Clear skies with light offshore wind. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 8.2 ft at 12.1 s WNW 113 / WIND WAVE: 5.3 ft at 7.1 s W / WVHT: 9.5 ft / APD: 7.1 s / MWD: 297° (Met) WSPD: 21 kn / GST: 25 kn / WVHT: 9.5 ft / DPD: 12.0 s / WDIR: 170° / ATMP: 54° F / WTMP: 56° F. Tide: Above 3' falling to about 2'.

19 December 2012

Surf Girl: A Graphic Novel

Last summer, my friend J-Bird and I started working on a graphic novel, with her creating the graphics and me writing the novel. Here's my first draft of the beginning of the story.

Nerina (illustrated by J-Bird)
Ah, dawn patrol! All the world is new again in the growing light. A faint breeze stirs the cool air, laced with the salty tang of the sea. Waves emerge from the dim distance and peel in glassy sheets down the beach as the sun paints the sky behind me with the pale colors of early morning. The swell has come up more than I expected and will definitely push the boundaries of my comfort zone. But the greater risk holds promise of greater reward. I swallow trepidation and pick my way down the short bluff to the sand with my trusty 6’2” surfboard under my arm.

 As I near the waterline, an unremembered rock moves on the beach, which on closer approach becomes a young harbor seal. She lifts her head from the sand and looks at me with big, brown, woeful eyes. A plastic six-pack ring dangles from her neck, with one of the rings stretched taut around it, an ugly and uncomfortable necklace.
Cleodora and Nerina (illustrated by J-Bird)

I ought to go back to the car and call the Flipper’s Friends stranding hotline. Yet the plastic has mostly separated on the ring that binds her; it would be quick and easy to snap it, for someone who has fingers instead of flippers. We lock eyes, brown to brown, and she is asking for my help. But she’s a large wild animal with big teeth, and FF personnel would come armed with shields and nets. Her eyes haven’t left mine. I won’t hurt you, she seems to say, please help. I set my surfboard slowly on the ground and she doesn’t blink. Impulsively, I move with deliberate haste to her side, and in one smooth movement, break the plastic ring and step back. It may be my imagination but she looks relieved and grateful. After executing an awkward turn toward the ocean, the seal flops on her belly into the shallows and swims away. She pauses once to look back at me, then dives into the depths and is gone. I strap my leash to my ankle and follow her into the water.

The waves are bigger than I realized from the shore, well over my head. A rip current and well-timed lull between sets got me to the empty lineup without much difficulty, but now the butterflies are awake in my belly. I’d feel better if I had a buddy out here, and there she is. My friend Ava has reached the beach and is doing some yoga stretches while she checks the surf. The butterflies settle a little.

A set comes and I let the first wave go by, watching where and how it breaks. With the second incoming, I give myself a little pep talk. OK, Nerina, you can do this. Paddle hard. Commit. I’m in the right place with the right timing and make the drop into a fun left, turning off the bottom, zooming up toward the lip, and back down again, several times, until the wave fizzles out over the nearshore trench and I let it go on without me to break again as shorepound. Woo hoo! Ava’s picked up her board now and gives me a raised-arm salute, stoked for you! I’ve got a grin on my face that won’t quit.

Getting back out is more of a challenge this time, but finally I break through the walls of whitewater to the smooth water on the outside. After a little breather, I’m ready for another. The swell rises behind me and I stroke hard. This wave is bigger than the last, much bigger, but I’m going for it. As I get to my feet, it all goes wrong. I’m ass-over-teakettle, falling through air and then water, the lip of the wave crashing down on me and pushing me deeper as I tumble. I’d grabbed a quick breath at the top, but need another, and I can’t find the surface. Don’t panic! My hand reaches my left ankle to trace my leash to the surfboard floating above, up where the air is. But there is no air there, no sky, just a thick layer of foam atop the water. Kicking upward, I get my mouth above the foam to inhale a tiny gasp before the next wave of the set breaks on my head and sends me down again. I feel the weight of the water, its dark heaviness...
“What are we going to do with her?” a voice demanded. “You know you can’t keep her here, Silas.”

“She saved Cleodora. I couldn’t let her drown.”

I opened my eyes to the strangest scene.

I was underwater, but not in the water, suspended in a big bubble in the midst of a kelp forest, gently swaying in the current. Two merfolk hovered nearby, and they were arguing. About me.

“Well then, Mr. Chivalrous, what’s your plan?” The blond mermaid scowled, her arms folded across her bare chest and her tail swishling like an angry cat’s.

The merman shrugged and smiled weakly. He had curly dark hair and was, frankly, gorgeous. l realized then that they hadn’t been talking out loud; I could hear them in my head. I must be dreaming. Or dead? My mind recoiled from the thought. Maybe just unconscious. Do people in comas dream?

He averted his gaze from the mermaid’s angry countenance and turned my way. “Look, Petra, she’s awake.”

“Now you’ve got an even bigger problem! Get rid of her.” Petra gave me the evil eye before swimming away, thrashing her tail in my direction to set the bubble rocking in the turbulence.

Silas moved more gently to my side, placing his hands on the bubble and locking his Caribbean-blue eyes to mine. “What’s your name?” he asked in my head.

“Nerina. Nerina West,” I thought back at him, hoping he couldn’t hear what else I was thinking.

“Nerina, I thank you for helping Cleodora.” He hooked his thumb toward a small group of seals who were playing in the kelp nearby, chasing each other like happy puppies. One of them broke free of the game and came towards us. She had a raw circle around her neck where until this morning a six-pack strap had been trying to strangle her. The seal rubbed her head against Silas’ outstretched palm, looked at me with grateful eyes, and darted back to her friends.

“I must take you back to your world, but first, I will give you a gift.” His hands pierced the bubble and he pulled my face toward his. My heart pounded as the sea rushed in.

To be continued... (more here)

17 December 2012

Lumpy (Linda Mar)

"It's cold. It's raining. The water's likely polluted & the waves look meh. But it's been 4 days since my last fix so I'm going. #surfaddict" -@surfergrrrl
There were a lot of lumps of water moving around at Pacifica today, although not many that resembled rideable waves. Fewer than a dozen surfers were out along the entire beach. I challenged myself to make seemingly unmakeable waves, with some success, and left satisfied enough to tide me over through the next round of storms.

On a happy note, my first (temporary) home break in San Diego will be Windansea, where I surfed with friends on surfari two summers ago.
Windansea sunset surf
Scott and I are renting a small house a short walk from the beach in La Jolla until the end of February. Only three weeks till we head south to those warmer waters!

Surflie: 3-4' occ. 5', fair [not!] conditions. Sets pushing up to head high. Mostly sectiony lines with pick-n-choose corners, few decent ones here and there. Clean surface conditions. Surf will gradually increase through the day off the building WNW-NW swell. Overcast/foggy skies. Light rain showers scattered about. Moderate south wind at the moment. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 8.9 ft at 12.1 s NW 112 / WIND WAVE: 1.6 ft at 3.8 s SSW / WVHT: 9.2 ft / APD: 8.1 s / MWD: 306° (Met) WSPD: 8 kn / GST: 10 kn / WVHT: 9.5 ft / DPD: 13.0 s / WDIR: 280° / ATMP: 56° F / WTMP: 57°. Tide: 3' rising to 4'.

13 December 2012

High to Low (Hook/Sharks)

The tide dropped by about 2 feet per hour while I surfed. Waves at the Hook started off fat and slow, got good for a little while, then drained as the king tide pulled back to sea. While the water fell the crowd rose, from no one out when I arrived to about 40 at the end of my session, happily including Sabine.

Nemo got me a bunch of fun rides on the high water, but as the waves got stepper, my fish and I started to flop around more. I could've used a board with variable shape and rocker. It didn't help that the burgeoning crowd pushed me away from the Hook and down to Sharks. Still, I was smiling on a crisp sunny day with a lot of swishy board time. Leaving was bittersweet, since I don't know when, or if, I'll surf there again. Warmer waters are calling.
This house could be yours. Only $4.95 million.
Surfline: Primary WNW-NW wind/groundswell mix continues to offer up fun size 3-4' sets through the high tide this morning at select standout spots. More sheltered spots are staying small and nearly flat. Minor SSW swell is in the background. Winds are out of the N-NE and conditions are clean. Expect better surf in the late morning/afternoon with the dropping tide. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 11.8 ft at 12.9 s NW 111 / WIND WAVE: 2.3 ft at 5.0 s WNW / WVHT: 12.1 ft / APD: 9.4 s / MWD: 321° (Met) WSPD: 12 kn / GST: 14 kn / WVHT: 12.1 ft / DPD: 13.0 s / WDIR: 20° / ATMP: 50° F / WTMP: 57° F. Tide: 4' falling quickly to 1'.
I wonder how many surfboards Waste to Waves will make out of this MINI-load of EPS foam?

09 December 2012

Venetian Church of Surf (Venice)

Good sermon this morning at the Church of Surf. J-Bird, Jacob (for the first time since his unfortunate trampoline accident in October), Chris the Red, and Marcia joined me in the otherwise empty pews. It was such a beautiful summery day, you'd think more people would've attended, but that meant plenty of waves for just us. Stoked!
Surfline: NW windswell shows this morning as small SW Southern Hemi swell blends in. Expect waves to waist-chest-shoulder high with larger sets possible as the tide continues to drop through the morning. Smooth, glassy conditions thanks to light wind. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 10.8 ft at 10.0 s NW 110 / WIND WAVE: 3.3 ft at 5.6 s NW / WVHT: 11.5 ft / APD: 8.0 s / MWD: 320 (Met) WSPD: 12 kn / GST: 14 kn / WVHT: 11.5 ft / DPD: 10.0 s / WDIR: 340° / ATMP: 57° F / WTMP: 58° F. Tide: Less that 3' falling to 1'.

03 December 2012

Swish (Linda Mar)

The Surfmobile is temporarily out of commission after I hit a pothole on the freeway and destroyed one of the run-flats. (I'm glad it wasn't a regular tire or it might have been a high-speed blowout instead, and that's not how I want my story to end.) With today looking like the only decent surf in a while and for a while, a short break between storms and wind, I wedged my smallest surfboard into Scott's convertible and headed to the coast.

The Jetty was brown and sloshy so I kept driving north. Perrin and I had a good mid-afternoon surf at Boatdocks. I saw her get a really sweet last ride - she was stylin'!
Surfing Nemo is such fun!
I love my little fishy.
Now without the center fin,
The rides are swishy-swishy!
Surfine: 3-5' occ. 6', fair conditions. Just a light surface crumble on long lines with some fun sections and end corners to pick off. Water quality is poor. Swell has come down to more manageable levels today as our old West swell mix fades out. Conditions have also finally improved with light winds and sunny skies. Waves are in the chest high to slightly overhead range at good spots with some double overhead range sets at standouts. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 6.9 ft at 12.1 s WNW 109 / WIND WAVE: 1.0 ft at 3.6 s WSW / WVHT: 6.9 ft / APD: 8.0 s / MWD: 291° (Met) WSPD: 0 kn / GST: 2 kn / WVHT: 6.6 ft / DPD: 11.0 s / ATMP: 56° F / WTMP: 58° F. Tide: 4' falling to 2.5'.