30 March 2012

Purely Maintenance (HMB Jetty)

When I arrived just past dawn, the surf at the Jetty was uninspiring, marginally rideable. I came close to turning around and driving home again. But I wanted to get wet, and who knows, I might get lucky.
The paddle out through steady breaking waves took me some time, and twice I stopped fighting it and turned to catch whitewatery rides. Unfortunately my wrist began to hurt every time I pushed my hand against my surfboard. (I'm not sure quite how I injured it last week, but suspect it's another skateboarding strain. On the suggestion of my surf coach, I got a Sector Nine Orange Crush skateboard late last year, and promptly strained the Achilles tendon of my back leg. That took a couple of months to heal, and worried about repeating the same damage, I recently bought a Kahuna Big Stick to land-paddle instead of foot-push. It's likely that using it strained my wrist. I'm beginning to think my body doesn't want to skateboard. And it didn't help that my board got smacked upward as I popped up on a wave at Linda Mar last time, further tweaking it.)
Trying a different path and happening into a brief lull, I made it to the outside, and saw the longboarder who was my sole company catch a quick shoulder on a right closer to the main peak. Well, peak is a misnomer; there really weren't any today, with the swell disorganized and breaking haphazardly. My stay in the onshore-ruffled green water was short-lived as I got caught inside of a couple set waves. I decided to ride the white in to rest my wrist for some hopefully better Santa Cruz surf this weekend. As I changed in the parking lot, the group of older guys who bodyboard every Friday morning in Half Moon Bay pulled in to check the waves. After watching for a few minutes, they went off for a walk instead.

Purely a maintenance session and one of my shortest ever, but there's still no better way to start the day than in the ocean!
Relocated a couple of these from the barren parking lot to some nice grass
Surfline: Good size WNW (270-315) groundswell continues, picking up through the afternoon, and mixes with slow building new SSW (205-180) southern hemi swell. Expect most spots are seeing overhead waves, with double overhead+ and larger surf at top breaks. Winds are light from the South and the surf generally remains pretty mixed up across the region. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 9.5 ft at 12.9 s WNW 27 / WIND WAVE: 1.0 ft at 3.7 s SSW / WVHT: 9.5 ft / APD: 10.0 s / MWD: 299° (Met) WSPD: 8 kn / GST: 12 kn / WVHT: 9.5 ft / DPD: 13.0 s / WDIR: 150° / ATMP: 52° F / WTMP: 52° F. Tide: 3' falling slightly.

26 March 2012

Wanted: Intermediate Shortboard Buddy

NorCal surfer girl seeks surf buddy for mutual motivation, inspiration, and encouragement in the pursuit of shortboarding proficiency. 

I figure there has to be someone else who surfs regularly in San Mateo and/or Santa Cruz counties and is just as determined as I am to master shortboarding - and who would like a buddy to share the challenges and successes along the way.

Imagine us tucking into our first barrels during an epic session!

If interested, email me at surfergrrrl on gmail.

25 March 2012

A Hole in the Rain (Sharks)

Once again, a storm rolled in for the weekend, with heavy rain on Saturday. It looked like the only window in the weather might be early Sunday, and with a low tide at dawn, that meant a trip south to the reef breaks of Santa Cruz. As I drove along my suburban street in the dark, a skunk trundled up a driveway, and my headlights illuminated a raccoon loping across the street. A misty drizzle dusted the windshield until I reached the coastal side of the Santa Cruz mountains and it began to rain in earnest. I was half hoping for showers, to keep the crowd down and save more waves for me at the Hook, but by the time I pulled into the parking lot, clear morning sky was appearing through rainless clouds.
There was already a pack on the main peak as I descended the stairs in the pale light before sunrise, past a memorial to a surfer who died there last week, so I walked east on the sand and paddled out near Sharks. For much of the time, it was just me and two longboarders. One of them was a good surfer who sat outside and claimed inconsistent nice rides. The other was my counterpart on a bigger board, making some and missing or getting rolled on others. The low-tide exposed kelp was confounding, forcing me out of the best position or ensnaring my legs. I got a few meh waves amidst wipeouts before deciding that I had a better chance at finding shoulders if I moved moved eastward where the waves weren't so closed out and sectiony.
There I got a couple of good albeit short rides; they sectioned too soon, but I had a taste of shoulder and got in a turn or two. As I waited in the lineup, a young harbor seal swam past, looking at me with big eyes before moving away. The sun poked out from behind the clouds, and suddenly there were three other shortboarders on my peak. One of them was king of late take-offs, getting ride after ride, dipping his head under the curl. Ah, someday I will get there.
A light offshore breeze added to the chill of the 46 ºF (8 ºC) air despite the increasing sunshine, and shivers drove me to shore after another quick ride and tumble. The shallows teamed with life, both plant and animal.
Sea grass
I'm a little disappointed that I'm not progressing faster on my shortboard, but still stoked!
Surfline: Expect shoulder-head high+ sets with semi-drained conditions on the low tide this morning. WNW (285-320) swell blends with small SW energy today for shoulder-head high+ surf at exposed areas. Clean early with light wind. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 7.2 ft at 12.9 s NW 26 / WIND WAVE: 2.6 ft at 4.5 s SSE / WVHT: 7.6 ft / APD: 8.1 s / MWD: 306° (Met) WSPD: 12 kn / GST: 16 kn / WVHT: 7.6 ft / DPD: 13.0 s / WDIR: 130° / ATMP: 49° F / WTMP: 50° F. Tide: 0.5' rising to over 1'.

22 March 2012

World Water Day 2012

You might recognize the short clip from my video of a dog surfing at Cowells near the beginning of Surfrider's 3-Second Movie Challenge compilation:
If you're looking for a way to help those who lack access to clean water, here's a great idea: Give up your next birthday. I will.

20 March 2012

Springtime Fun (Linda Mar)

Storms kept me out of the water last weekend and made me hungry for waves. With the winds finally calmed and the surf cleaned up, I had to go this morning. Stupid daylight savings time drove me to the beach while it was still dark, and constrained the length of my session against the demands of work. The swell had dropped more than forecast, and in the dim pre-dawn I could see nothing rideable at the Jetty, just beachside froth rimmed by little closeouts.
Linda Mar was nearly a lake when I arrived, but there were some waves on the north end. Leashing up on the beach, I realized the earlier placidity had been a lull, and sets were lighting up several peaks along the cove with waist- to chest-high waves. (I wondered then if I'd been mistaken about the Jetty, but hadn't had the time to check it for more than a few minutes.) While the growing crowd was starting to pack the north, I saw a tempting unridden left in front of Taco Bell, with only one longboarder in the vicinity.
Frequent lulls were long and cold, but in between I got some fun little sectiony rides. The waves were a good size for practicing late take-offs and feeling my way into turns on Rocket, including some stokeful ramps off oncoming sections. The longboarder departed halfway through my session, leaving me happily alone on the peak. As I shivered through another lull waiting for my last wave, a pod of dolphins porpoised in the distance. A very Merry Equinox indeed!
Surfline: Clean, sectiony lines rolling through with sets up to waist-chest high. Pick-n-choose corners. Blend of a primary holding WNW-NW windswell/groundswell and new/peaking SSW groundswell. Look for the standout winter spots to be biggest with head high to overhead WNW sets, while standout summer spots produce waist-chest high+ SSW sets. Beachbreaks exposed to the combo are peaky. Conditions are clean across the region with calm/light wind. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 5.6 ft at 10.8 s W 25 / WIND WAVE: 1.0 ft at 4.2 s WSW / WVHT: 5.6 ft / APD: 8.5 s / MWD: 281° (Met) WSPD: 10 kn / GST: 12 kn / WVHT: 5.3 ft / DPD: 10.0 s / WDIR: 130° / ATMP: 50° F / WTMP: 49° F Tide: 3.5' rising to 4'.

15 March 2012

Making Lemonade (Linda Mar)

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. -Dale Carnegie
Little brown waves on the south end
It's been stormy all week with rain and wind, forecast to continue through this weekend. I aimed for the best post-work window in all that weather, with light drizzle and light breeze but some swell, and Linda Mar was the call since it's south-wind protected. Still, the water quality warning at the San Pedro Creek mouth gave me pause; I stayed north of the oceanfront Taco Bell and tried not to swallow any ocean.
Cleaner to the north, but I went in between
I only had an hour, and wasted half of it on a break that was almost but not quite working before moving to a different one. In between two packs of surfers, I found a semi-decent empty spot and sorted out that the weak waves required me to be just inside as they broke to get into them on my 6'2". No sooner had I caught one into a fun reform - yes! - than my success drew a couple other shortboarders over to my peak. Such is Linda Mar.
Several lesser rides later it was time to go, and I avoided the paddle of shame by hopping onto two successive waves to come in to the beach. I'd made a little lemonade, just a Dixie cup full, from those lemons. As @Waves_SF says, "Homemade lemonade is high in vitamin-stoke."
Misty drizzle in front of Taco Bell
Surfline: Small, clean surf on tap this afternoon with occasional waist high+ sets. Weak and gutless overall but there are some rideable corners. Surf is down today and a little less stormy, although quality is still generally low. Fading WNW swell mix and building SSW swell (190-205) has many breaks in the shoulder-head high range, with some overhead sets at best WNW and combo spots. Wind continues out of the south, although lighter than the past couple days. (Wave) SWELL: 5.6 ft at 11.4 s NW 24 / WIND WAVE: 1.3 ft at 3.7 s SSE / WVHT: 5.6 ft / APD: 7.8 s / MWD: 305° (Met) WSPD: 8 kn / GST: 8 kn / WVHT: 5.6 ft / DPD: 11.0 s / WDIR: 190° / ATMP: 52° F / WTMP: 52° F. Tide: 2.5' rising over 3'.

11 March 2012

Finding Stoke (Linda Mar)

In the shortboard section on the inside
I got my stoke back today, in the unlikeliest of places. A south wind was chopping up the surf in Half Moon Bay, so I went north to Linda Mar with low expectations. As I drove I reminded myself that it would be crowded, and hoped for just one decent wave. The nice thing about low expectations is that it's easy to exceed them. The session turned out fun, with one good ride plus a handful of others, despite the heavy crowd.

Debating which surfboard to bring, I'd decided to flip a coin: heads for 6'2" Rocket, tails for 7'0" Emm. The Russian coin from my gear box came up tails, so I went best 2 out of 3, but got tails again. I flipped it several more times, getting all tails. Obviously an unbalanced cheater coin! A Nicaraguan coin came up heads, as did a US quarter, so I'd put Rocket in the car.

And was glad I did. Paddling out, I caught a powerful broken outside set wave that reformed as I rode left. A section closed in front of me, and I banked off the whitewater, rounding a tight turn to the right, back onto the face. Woot! Rocket and I were in sync, going with the flow of the wave, moving with fluid unconscious thought. Another turn or two and a smaller reform took me to the nearshore trench where the wave dissolved and my stoked smile blossomed. Yeah, that's more like it! Guess I don't suck at surfing after all.
Surfline: Smooth, semi-walled lines. Old NW energy eases today as a new NW (295-310) swell builds in and mixes with small S (175-185) swell. Decent size continues as exposed breaks see head high to double overhead surf. Light S-SW wind early creates semi-textured surface conditions, and a -0.14' low tide at 7:40am has shape looking drained. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 6.9 ft at 12.1 s WNW 23 / WIND WAVE: 1.3 ft at 4.0 s W / WVHT: 7.2 ft / APD: 8.4 s / MWD: 298° (Met) WSPD: 10 kn / GST: 12 kn / WVHT: 7.2 ft / DPD: 12.0 s / WDIR: 190° / ATMP: 50° F / WTMP: 50° F. Tide: 2.5' rising to 4'.

05 March 2012

Just Me in the Satin Sea (HMB Jetty)

After the weekend's warmth, which set a record yesterday in Santa Cruz, I wasn't expecting my MINI's frost warning to chime on the way to the beach. I wanted to get in one last weekday dawn patrol before Sunday's start of despicable Daylight Savings Time steals them away for a while. The fog descended as I turned north along the coast, and all but the nearest waves at the Jetty were hidden in mystery. But there were waves, so I suited up and paddled out, taking a gamble on a mid-beach peak.

There were no other humans in the water, only me, a harbor seal, and a few birds. Before the cold drove me from the sea in about an hour, I rode a handful of fun-size waves on Emm, nothing to woo-hoo but some decent ones. The fog thinned and a peek of early sun glinted through, but then it descended again less thickly. For several minutes, the horizon divided a uniform gray sky and a satin-smooth green ocean, nature's loveliest art on show just for me.

Surfline: Modest to fun size NW groundswell continues this morning with some very minor S swell underneath it. However, the coast is socked in with dense fog right now, making it impossible to get a good visual of the surf. Expect head high waves at good exposures while standouts go a couple to a few feet+ overhead on sets. Winds are registering light onshore so there is likely some surface bump/crumble at many locations as well. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 5.6 ft at 14.8 s NW 22 / WIND WAVE: 3.3 ft at 5.9 s NW / WVHT: 6.6 ft / APD: 7.7 s / MWD: 314° (Met) WSPD: 16 kn / GST: 19 kn / WVHT: 6.6 ft / DPD: 15.0 s / WDIR: 320° / ATMP: 46° F / WTMP: 50° F. Tide: 5' rising slightly.

03 March 2012

Stepping Back (Dunes)

Sometimes I get discouraged that I'm not making progress as a surfer (or lately, that I'm going backwards). Then I remember the advice of my old surfing buddy, to step back to a longer board, on which to get more waves and replenish stoke.
And so it was today when I left 6'2" Rocket at home and took out 7'0" Emm, hoping for a high-wave count session. That didn't happen, but I got a couple good rides to bookend a batch of nothing-to-write-abouts, and enjoyed a beautiful warm sunny morning on the water with my buddy Luke.
My first wave was the best, a nice shoulder-high right with a face that held up for a bit and took me downshore.
My last wave was next best, a chest-high right I rode in with Luke behind me. It was a great way to close out the session.
Surfline: Offshore flow and leftover NW (280-320) wind and groundswell mix prevails this morning. Better breaks are in the waist-chest high range, while top spots pull in a few sets running shoulder-head high. Shape is a bit fat for a lot of spots as the tide comes off a deep high tide that peaked just before sunrise. Look for some improvement with the dropping tide. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 6.2 ft at 9.1 s NW 21 / WIND WAVE: 1.3 ft at 3.7 s WNW / WVHT: 6.2 ft / APD: 7.3 s / MWD: 321° (Met) WSPD: 8 kn / GST: 10 kn / WVHT: 6.2 ft / DPD: 9.0 s / WDIR: 330° / ATMP: 50° F / WTMP: 49° F. Tide: 3.5' falling to 1.'