27 April 2012

Hello, Sunshine (Hook)

I waffled on whether to surf today. San Mateo County breaks seemed out: too drained before work, too blown out after. And sheltered Santa Cruz has been small. Maybe I should go swimming instead. Still, when I cam-watched just a few surfers out in eastside Santa Cruz yesterday afternoon, enduring lulls but getting some fun little rides, I knew I had to get up before dawn and make the drive south.
There was only one guy in the water when I arrived, but more were joining as the light grew. I paddled out to the second peak which held only greybeard Glenn and another dude. I caught a wave almost right away and forgot to fist up my sprained wrist, but it didn't hurt too much and I was able to complete the pop-up and ride. Woot! The crowd grew steadily but I stayed on the inside and took the smaller ones they let slip by. I had many fun rides, one I-can't-believe-I-made-that drop, and a few take-off crashes due to misjudging the wave or imbalance from fisting the pop-up. One fist plant that went awry put an ugly purple bruise around my ring-finger knuckle, which does not match my pink KT Tape at all. I'll have to check Emm later for the corresponding pressure dent.
I let the crowd push me toward Sharks, but there wasn't much going on down that way. Before I paddled back toward the Hook, I slogged into the kelp to investigate something odd poking up through it. When I got closer I saw it was a harbor seal, nose to the sky as if worshiping the rising sun. S/he turned a wary eye toward me, and I stopped to take a quiet photo as s/he resumed the pose. (Later, Caro and Heather told me the seal might be suffering from domoic acid toxicity. That's a neurological disease caused by eating contaminated shellfish who have themselves ingested "zombie acid" from a harmful algae bloom possibly caused by human activities. Or s/he could have just been resting. I hope it was the latter.)
Back at the Hook, a sea otter played just past the lineup. I soon rode a left that ended prematurely when I over-steered into the face. D'oh! The next was to be my last wave, but I went back for a couple more, and counted 17 guys in the lineup... plus me. A few minutes later, a woman paddled out nearby and as I called her into her first wave - she was in the best position - she suggested we share it. Surfer girls rock.

I caught the next wave in and picked my way through the anemone-studded shallows to the beach. Smiles! Santa Cruz is always worth the drive for dawn patrol.
Surfline: Looking a lot better than the last few days, this morning, as mid-period WNW (290-310) swell builds, mixing with modest SSW (200-180) groundswell. For the dawn patrol size is generally running knee-waist-chest high at better breaks, with a few larger sets for top exposures. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 7.9 ft at 11.4 s NW 32 / WIND WAVE: 6.2 ft at 7.1 s NW / WVHT: 9.8 ft / APD: 6.9 s / MWD: 312° (Met) WSPD: 23 kn / GST: 29 kn / WDIR: 320° / ATMP: 53° F / WTMP: 54° F. Tide: 1½' falling to ½'.

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