31 May 2012

Bunny Balm (Dunes)

Morning bunny
None of my buddies ended up meeting me this morning for dawn patrol, although a couple said they might join late. So I had a choice to make: surf solo at a lonely beach in Half Moon Bay, since the Jetty would be near flat, or hang with the crowd at Linda Mar? I haven't felt comfortable surfing by myself in HMB, especially after a strong feeling that I was being malevolently watched drove me from the water last year at Kelly. Still, I thought I'd at least check the state beaches, since Linda Mar is my least favorite break, currently in the doghouse for spraining my wrist.

Snow WhiteAt Dunes, although overcast skies added gloom, birds were chirping, wildflowers were blooming, and bunnies were hopping everywhere - it seemed like Snow White might come singing down the bike path. I pushed the thought of sharks from my mind, mostly, and paddled out into the superficially-empty blue-gray expanse.

I'd also had to decide which board to bring: 6'2" Rocket or 7'0" Emm? I'm ready to ride my shortboard again, but the almost-high tide might make the waves so soft that the extra float of my long-enough-board could make the session more fun than frustrating. I brought Emm, which proved a good choice, as the chest-high waves were sluggish and I had trouble getting into some. No lefts came my way but I grabbed a few decent rights, including a sweet one that let me make a couple turns on the face. Woo!
After a time I noticed that I'd drifted quite a bit south of my original spot without realizing it. The wide path down the cliff directly in from where I floated was definitely not the one I'd used to reach the beach, and the waves in my current location were messy. I'd lost my bearings and my peak.
I got out to determine where I was, and found I'd been pushed past the far end of the Dunes parking lot, well on my way to Venice. After walking back up the beach, I went out again, but the wave shape was deteriorating; perhaps now there was too much tide on it. Paddling about chasing pop-up peaks, and still drifting, I couldn't find my way into any waves. With my wrist hurting a bit (dammit!) and the cold water chilling me, I caught some whitewater in near shore. Back on the sand, I walked north again, looking in vain for a decent peak. This was one of those days when "You should've been here earlier" was absolutely true. Well, it was fun while it lasted, and I conquered my fear to paddle out alone. Still stoked!
Surfline: Primary NW windswell holds up jumbled but rideable 3-4'+ surf today while some minor, inconsistent southern hemi swell mixes in. Winds are lightly onshore with semi-clean to textured surface conditions as the tide rises to a 4' high at 8:20am. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 4.6 ft at 10.0 s NW 39 / WIND WAVE: 3.0 ft at 4.8 s WNW / WVHT: 5.3 ft / APD: 5.7 s / MWD: 305°  (Met) WSPD: 12 kn / GST: 14 kn / WVHT: 5.3 ft / DPD: 10.0 s / WDIR: 310° / ATMP: 53° F / WTMP: 52° F. Tide: 3' rising over 3.5'.

30 May 2012


Inspired by this post on The Scuttlefish, especially Brian's comment that "I feel like a f**king dolphin," I've just ordered a handplane from Spirare. And another for my husband, who wants to give it a try (someplace with warm water).

When my sprained wrist was making pop-ups difficult, it would've been nice to have this alternative. And it's a lot more compact for travelling, sans ridiculous board fees.

In the course of stumbling around on the web (why do they call it "surfing"?!), past the woodworking tools, for more information on these wave-riding devices, I came across this: Handplanes are the anti-SUP.

I've never used a handplane before and am not good at bodysurfing, but this looks fun. Maybe my first barrel won't be on a surfboard.

27 May 2012

So Sweet and So Cold* (Dunes)

Expectations were low this morning. We're in the spring doldrums, no groundswell in sight, only sloppy windswell. The local winds that whipped up what waves there are also brought a cold upwelling from the deep that's dropped the water temperature to sometimes shy of 50°F (10°C). But surf-starved, we take what we can get. My surf posse came together for mid-morning Church of Surf in Half Moon Bay: J-Bird, Jacob, Chris, Luke, Heather, Perrin and me.
Though my injuries are mostly healed now so I'm ready to shortboard again, I brought my 7'0" Emm instead, wanting a bigger spoon to scoop up more of the anticipated crumbs. Happily, instead of crumbs we got ice cream, rampy chest- to near head-high clean and cold waves on the incoming tide. No one else was anywhere near and the peak was ours.

I was beaten back when I tried to follow J-Bird, Chris and Luke to the lineup through the breaking waves, so abandoned that path and went for a dry-hair paddle-out via a rip down the beach. Then I found my way into some sweet rides, mostly rights, turning high on the wave and sliding along the glassy face. My first ride produced a grin, a woo-hoo! and a raised-arms claim. Yeah! Several more like that and the grin became a permanent stoked-smile (that I'm still wearing).
The water was cold and produced fleeting ice-cream headaches whenever I went under. Ah, Spring. On the inside after another fun ride, I saw Luke and Jacob split a peak but couldn't get the camera up fast enough to capture it. Soon after, J-Bird, Jacob, I and Luke caught a wave together. Since Luke was on my left and the wave was sectioning to my left I went right, only to see as I popped up that Jacob was going left toward me with J-Bird behind him. Instinctively I crouched and grabbed my rail to force a faster turn to the left and not collide with Jacob. Though I crashed when I hit the whitewater section, all was well, and we came up smiling.
Toward the end, the cold began to take its toll and my wipeouts became more frequent than my rides. I stuck the nose badly on one drop and immediately curled into a ball with my hands protecting my head as I was flung and spun. My last wave in became two attempts followed by a short whitewater ride and a paddle over the nearshore trench to where half my friends already waited on the sand.

Best session in a long, long while. Thanks, Mother Ocean, I needed that. Stoked!
My posse, chilling on the beach post-surf
After I collected Scott from his ramble down the bay, we all met up again at Flavor for a tasty lunch. Good friends, good surf, good food, good times.
*Title from Never Let Me Go by Florence and the Machine (via MF's blog).
Surfline: Modest-scale NW windswell combines with weak SW Southern Hemi energy and a dose of onshore WNW wind. Sloppy waist-chest high waves show at exposed areas, while top breaks can see larger sets around shoulder-head high at times. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 4.6 ft at 8.3 s NW 38 / WIND WAVE: 1.6 ft at 3.6 s NW / WVHT: 4.9 ft / APD: 6.1 s / MWD: 321° (Met) WSPD: 10 kn / GST: 12 kn / WVHT: 4.9 ft / DPD: 8.0 s / WDIR: 310° / ATMP: 52° F / WTMP: 52° F. Tide: Almost 0' rising to 1'.

21 May 2012

Not a Mouse (Venice)

The best laid schemes o' mice an' men 
Gang aft agley. 
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain, 
For promis'd joy! 
To a Mouse by Robert Burns
The south groundswell is on the fade as is some messy northwest windswell. I planned to take my patience south and catch the inconsistent little remnants of the former in Santa Cruz this afternoon, but when I checked the traffic on my route - oh, nooo! "Multi-vehicle accident with injuries on CA-17 Southbound All lanes blocked Avoid the area." Such sweet little waves on the cams, now out of reach! Without much hope, I texted Luke for a report on conditions in Half Moon Bay, which was still accessible by land. He replied that the Jetty had been flat, but it wasn't just windslop elsewhere; I should come west and we'd hunt down waves at one of the beaches. Besides, we hadn't surfed together in ages. Change of plans, change of direction.

True enough, the Jetty was flat, with a sideshore breeze, but we could see waves breaking farther south. Luke invited a newbie who was half suited up in the parking lot to join us at Dunes.
Up close, Dunes looked more promising, although there was no one out there or anywhere as far as the eye could see. We paddled out near the border with Venice Beach, searching for an elusive peak that would hold up enough to ride. Christian had only been surfing for one week and was hungry for advice, and the first I offered was to stop trying to catch shorepound before he or his board got hurt.
After paddling hither and yon, Luke had ridden one wave and I hadn't yet put feet to board. I'd caught a left but aborted so I wouldn't land on Christian. Seeing a better opportunity more southward, Luke suggested we get out and walk down to Venice proper. It was a good call. I rode two or three whitewatery waves there before Luke had to leave. Since my elbow was being a pain, I joined him on the beach, nevertheless happy in the short session.
Discussing the conditions with Christian, Luke said he wouldn't have surfed if I hadn't come, and I replied I wouldn't have come if he hadn't said we'd surf. Ha! Nice thing about buddies. With the end result that today, promis'd joy was found in the waves after all.
Luke and Christian
Surfline: Small mix of SSW groundswell and NW windswell today. Most of the better exposures hang within the 1-3' zone, while standout summer spots produce occasional waves/peaks up to belly-chest high at best. moderate to breezy WNW flow prevails at the moment this early afternoon, creating plenty of surface texture/bump for most areas. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 2.0 ft at 13.8 s S 37 / WIND WAVE: 1.0 ft at 3.7 s WNW / WVHT: 2.3 ft / APD: 5.7 s / MWD: 185° (Met) WSPD: 6 kn / GST: 8 kn / WVHT: 2.3 ft / DPD: 14.0 s / WDIR: 300° / ATMP: 53° F / WTMP: 53° F. Tide: ~3'.

19 May 2012

On the Slow Mend (Hook)

It's been a difficult Spring, but I'm starting to feel like my injuries are on the mend at last. Wednesday morning the stitches were removed from my right elbow, and Ward had Emm ready after turning around the repairs in only 4 days. (I  my shaper! A couple of weeks ago, his 14-year-old son won the Bum Rush pop-up surf contest at Steamer Lane and he's competing in more organized contests despite a broken scaphoid bone in his wrist, so I feel rather like a wimp with my mere sprain.) I'd hoped to surf the Westside when I picked up my 7'0", but had forgotten that it's not easy access, especially on a mid-rising tide. Looking longingly at the small glassy waves, I accepted that my right arm wasn't in good enough shape yet to safely make the scramble on wave-splashed boulders or worn slippery steps.

It was a hard choice but probably a wise one. This morning, after several more days of recovery, it hurt my elbows just wearing a wetsuit, rather surprising as it's been 2 weeks since I fell. But of course that wasn't going to stop me from surfing after 8 days out of the water.
There were a few other surfer girls in the lineup this morning
Although my sprained wrist isn't 100% better, I can pop up almost normally now; I just have to splay my fingers and keep my palm raised slightly off the deck to avoid a 90° bend. Which is good, since I bashed up my hand pretty badly popping up with it in a fist, and it took a while for the bruising and swelling to dissipate. I still have to move carefully in and out of the water, not tweaking the wrist nor bumping the elbows.
A fading southwest swell has been sending waist- to chest-high waves into Santa Cruz all week. An hour past dawn, the crowd was still reasonable, and I saw a few familiar faces in the water, including Lauren. There were long lulls between sets, and I got chilly too soon in my old Rip Curl Insulator wetsuit, chosen over my usual Xcel Infiniti for its easier chest zipper, a poor pick in hindsight. When the sets came I got a decent share, sitting on the inside and taking waves the longboarders let past. One right in particular was pretty sweet, as was a short left. Woot!
Hopefully it won't be long now till I'm injury-free and can get back to learning to shortboard.
Surfline: Glassy conditions prevail this morning as a fun-sized SSW groundswell holds, mixing with slowly easing NW windswell. Inconsistent but peaky knee-waist high waves show at decent exposures. Top spots see occasional sets to chest high. Light wind early. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 4.6 ft at 8.3 s NW 36 / WIND WAVE: 5.9 ft at 6.7 s NW / WVHT: 7.6 ft / APD: 5.9 s / MWD: 310° (Met) WSPD: 16 kn / GST: 19 kn / WVHT: 7.6 ft / DPD: 7.0 s / WDIR: 320° / ATMP: 51° F / WTMP: 51° F. Tide: 1' rising near 2'.

11 May 2012

Coming Apart at the Seams (Hook)

Tripping over a handicapped ramp last Saturday handicapped my surfing in two ways. First, on closer inspection, I discovered my 7'0" has a small ding on the tail that needs repair before getting wet again. Lacking a board caddy to schlep my 8'3", and with my wrist not yet up to the task, having Emm out of commission pushed me down to my 6'2". Fortunately the waves came in bigger than expected and suitable for the shortboard.
Second, while the doctor imposed no restrictions on surfing with stitches on my elbow, he didn't mention that they would create slightly painful limitations of their own. The first hurdle I encountered was that it was not possible to bend my elbow far enough to reach the chest zip on my wetsuit. I enlisted the help of a passing older longboarder (later introduced as Byron), but without his glasses, he couldn't get it together. After flagging down a jogger with apologies and thanks, I was finally secured. Clearly my mobility would be limited in the water too.
Surfers have worn a footpath in the rocks
My right arm is in bad shape at the moment: three stitches in the elbow, the sprained wrist that hasn't fully healed, and a bruised hand from popping up fisted. It was difficult to pull myself onto my surfboard using one arm, giving me new appreciation for the challenges Bethany Hamilton has overcome. Since regular pop-ups are still a bit painful on my wrist but my hand can't take any more fists into the board, I modified my approach to fingers-splayed with the palm elevated to keep the wrist angle well under 90°. That worked, but not well on the shortboard. Rocket needs snappy, precise movements, not tentative, cautious ones held back by pain or the fear of it.

Still, I gave it a go, and caught a handful of waves, blowing the pop-up each time. Mindful that my elbow was hurting more and more, and envisioning worst-case pulled stitches, I decided to cut the session short. I'll just have to wait until I'm free of those little blue plastic threads before I surf again. I exchanged smiles and greetings with Jim and Lauren, and tried to satisfy myself with inhaling the peace of early morning on the water.
After the fog rolled in
Surfline: Clean, shifty lines working through this morning as the tide drops. Looking fun on the better sets. WNW-NW wind and groundswell mix slowly backs down as SW groundswell picks up a notch. Most breaks offer waves mainly in the knee-waist-chest high zone, while top exposures pull in some shoulder-head high sets. Conditions are clean as the tide gradually drops to a negative low at 9:30am. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 8.5 ft at 10.0 s NW 35 / WIND WAVE: 1.3 ft at 3.6 s WNW / WVHT: 8.9 ft / APD: 7.8 s / MWD: 308° (Met) WSPD: 2 kn / GST: 4 kn / WVHT: 8.9 ft / DPD: 10.0 s / WDIR: 260° / ATMP: 51° F / WTMP: 52° F. Tide: 2' falling to 1'.

09 May 2012

Really Dusty?

I'm not sure how I missed this kerfluffle, but pro-surfer Dusty Payne said some pretty negative things about female surfers in the surf flick Lost Atlas, spewing about how girls are “terrible” at surfing and “sit on the boat waiting for the surf to die down to 1 foot waves so that they can go out and do their tail slides.” Really, Dusty?!

Now I don't feel so bad about mocking him for being scared out of the water at the Rip Curl Pro Search by a fin (most likely belonging to a dolphin, much more common at Ocean Beach than sharks).

But kudos to Carissa Moore, female surfer extraordinaire, for taking his comments as inspiration. Watch her dedication at the Surfer Poll Awards:
Way to go, Carissa!

05 May 2012

Serenity, Stoke and the Kindness of Strangers (Hook)

I didn't sleep in this Saturday. The call was for Santa Cruz again, since the San Mateo County breaks were almost certainly blown out and sloppy, and I knew the crowd would only get worse as the day went on. There were only a handful of surfers out when I arrived, and I sat on the inside at the main peak and rode a bunch of waves apparently deemed unworthy by those sitting farther out. The lulls were long, but I basked in the serenity, bobbing gently in the swell and listening to the peaceful sound of whitewater rolling over the uncovered low-tide reef at my back.
As more surfers came down the stairs and paddled out, I moved east to the next peak where I introduced myself to a couple of longboarders I'd seen on Thursday morning, Lauren and Jim. Lauren and I caught a wave together; I took the shorter left while she went right. Later, as I stroked for another wave, she asked if I was going left. "No." "OK, go for it!" And I caught my wave of the day, a long right with an open face that let me turn a little before closing out. Woot!
Later, I got video of Jim riding a wave on his yellow board as Lauren paddled back out with her 1-year-old dog, Sophie. 
Lauren is teaching Sophie to surf but Sophie's a beginner surfer dog; it was only her second time on a surfboard and she's still working on her balance.
Lauren and Sophie
I'd turned my glove inside out so the seam wouldn't bash my ring-finger when I popped up with my hand in a fist to protect my not-quite-ready-for-prime-time, almost un-sprained wrist, but still my right hand was feeling like I'd been in a fight. I took my last wave in, working it to the shallows, happy and stoked on the fun little waves of the morning.

After I rinsed my 7'0" at the shower, I stepped into the parking lot but remembered I'd taken a different space since my usual one was occupied. Turning toward the far corner, I tripped over the handicapped ramp and went sprawling across the pavement, Emm skidding to a stop in front of me. Oh, no! No fewer than four guys came instantly to my aid. Someone unwound the leash which, wrapped around my neck and caught under my board, kept me from rising, and strong hands lifted me to my feet. "Are you OK? Are you hurt?" "I'm OK, but I'm afraid to look at my board." One of the guys picked it up and handed it to me, and I was glad to see no major damage. "We're just glad you're alright!" I thanked them and walked more carefully the rest of the way to the car, where I dried Emm and found only fairly superficial scrapes on the rail that I can cover with clear plastic tape, for now. My elbow hurt a bit but my wetsuit was intact, so I was surprised to see a slightly bloody, not-small hole in my arm when I pulled the sleeve off. I must've landed on an exposed pebble in the old pavement. Opening the first aid kit from my gear box for the second time ever, I stuck a band-aid over the wound. Only as I drove away did I notice my other elbow was wet, bleeding from some lesser scrapes. The worst laceration took three stitches to close later at an urgent care. Who knew a parking lot could be such a dangerous place?

Still, the surf was fun! And there are no restriction on water time for the 10 days I'll have the stitches, so I'm grateful to be able to surf another day soon.

Surfline: Fun, glassy peaks staying super clean but a bit inconsistent overall. Mainly SSW groundswell with small, shorter period NW windswell mixing in. Look for somewhat inconsistent/lully waves mainly in the 2-3'+ zone for the better exposures of the region. Standout spots see occasional shoulder-head high SSW sets on the more favorable tides. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 6.9 ft at 9.1 s NW 34 / WIND WAVE: 7.2 ft at 7.7 s NW / WVHT: 10.2 ft / APD: 6.9 s / MWD: 315° (Met) WSPD: 23 kn / GST: 27 kn / WDIR: 330° / ATMP: 50° F / WTMP: 51° F. Tide: 1' rising to 2.5'.

03 May 2012

Sheets of Gray Satin (Hook)

I'd hoped to surf closer to home this week, but the wind's been relentless, and my coastside sources advised against it. So I woke at 4 am to make the trek south and greet the sunrise from the water in Santa Cruz.
The waves were small and glassy, and the crowd friendly and mellow.
I saw the soft-top girl who inspired the anecdote that led off my post Surfer Girls Rock here and on The Inertia, and paddled over to introduce myself. She's Glenna, daughter of Glenn the graybeard, and a super nice person. She didn't remember me from our brief encounter but offered to share waves anytime.

The hoots of Glenn and Glenna, riding the smallest rollers together on the far end, prompted a smiling admonishment from an aging longboarder to "Keep it down - you two are having too much fun over there!" This morning's lineup skewed toward older longboarders instead of young shortboarders, and the vibe was pure aloha.
Accidental underwater photo. One can almost make out a variety of odd creatures beneath the waves.
There was a left working on the second peak that gave me frontside smiles, but the backside rights were longer. I rode a lot of fun little waves, sharing one with Glenna broken by a section between us, our raised-arm salutes at the end punctuated by Glenna's hoot. A-lo-ha!

California poppies
Surfline: Today there's a holding SSW swell providing most of the waves while some minor NW windswell drops. Surf is inconsistent and on the weak/slow side this morning as the tide fills in to a 4' high at 9am. Still, the better spots are seeing some waist-shoulder high sets in between the long flat spells. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 4.6 ft at 10.0 s NW 33 / WIND WAVE: 1.0 ft at 4.0 s W / WVHT: 4.6 ft / APD: 7.5 s / MWD: 318° (Met) WSPD: 12 kn / GST: 14 kn / WVHT: 4.3 ft / DPD: 10.0 s / WDIR: 190° / ATMP: 51° F / WTMP: 53° F. Tide: 2' rising to 3'.