26 June 2012

Namaste (Dunes)

Messy Montara
Marcia and I pulled into the Montara parking lot at the same time from opposite directions. Alas, the wind moved upon the face of the sea, and it was choppy. On my way north, I'd passed the near-flat but glassy Jetty, so suggested we try farther south in Half Moon Bay.
Marcia picks a peak
Dunes was also glassy but with waist-high+ waves to play on. I'd brought my 8'3" Magic as the swell is small, and since I'm handicapped by a wrist brace for another 2½ weeks. (Yesterday at the pool, I somewhat-scientifically determined that it decreases my paddling efficiency by 15-20% based on the number of additional strokes it takes to swim a lap.) The extra board length helped me get into more waves, but had drawbacks. I tripped over the big nose a couple times before going solid on a right for a longish ride to the beach. Woot! It's been ages since I've ridden my longboard, and I worked to find the sweet spot between pearling and stalling, and once on the wave, had to shuffle up to kept the board planing. It's just so... long! Several fun rides later, I was smiling and stoked again.
Marcia rode a handful of waves too before she had to leave for work. Alone then in the satin sea, I inhaled peacefulness and reflected on why I surf. It's for mornings like this. Quiet solitude with a friend. Being a part of the vast waterworld. Getting out of my head and immersing in nature. Re-centering. Peace and joy.
The tide was dropping, making for more closeouts. It took a while to find my last wave to the beach, a bouncy left that turned into a right before splashing out in the shallows. Stoked!

Surfline: The surf is looking pretty sloppy for most breaks this morning thanks to steady WNW winds. Continued NW windswell energy, leftover Southern Hemi swell, and some minor long period WNW swell are keeping better exposures in the 2-3'+ zone. Top spots see a few chest/shoulder high sets. Though nowhere is looking particularly phenomenal there are some rideable waves to be had. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 3.9 ft at 8.3 s WNW 48 / WIND WAVE: 1.3 ft at 4.3 s W / WVHT: 4.3 ft / APD: 6.9 s / MWD: 298° (Met) WSPD: 10 kn / GST: 10 kn / WVHT: 4.3 ft / DPD: 8.0 s / WDIR: 300° / ATMP: 55° F / WTMP: 55° F. Tide: less than 3' falling to less than 2'.

24 June 2012

Discouragement (Montara)

follow neophyte @surfergrrrl thru the ups (and downs) of learning how to surf (and how i do my best to foul it up!) #FF -@SF_Windy
While it's nice to be declared worthy of following on Twitter, SF_Windy's words stung a little. A "neophyte... learing how to surf", when I've been surfing inconsistently for nine years and nearly twice a week for about six?! Aww, that just made me feel bad. Sure, I'm not a good surfer yet, but hardly a beginner. Yet I guess that's how I come across.
Combined with recent less-than-epic sessions, days like today have me thinking that perhaps the impression is not as wide of the mark as I'd like to believe. Montara was offering up near head-high long lefts with rampy entries, and my buddies J-Bird, Jacob, and Tracey were nailing nice rides. I, however, could get into only one of them green on my 7'0", and on that I blew the drop. I rode a handful from whitewater into reforms, getting out on the face briefly on two, but I really wanted one fresh and smooth from the outside.
Tracey, Jacob and J-Bird watching the horizon for the next bump
There was a strong drift toward the north that required constant paddling to stay on the peak, and the long rides meant a long paddle back out. Swimming with the wrist splint is like bicycling with a flat tire; it spoils my stroke and makes me slow. So I really shouldn't be too hard on myself for finding it difficult to paddle into waves or for tiring too soon on the current treadmill. Yet that's only part of it; I still am not positioning myself properly relative to the wave. Marcia caught none on her shortboard, she said out of fear (though she launches into slightly smaller closeouts at Linda Mar!), but that was not my issue today, at least not consciously. 

Perhaps, despite years of effort, I am a neophyte still.

In a while now I will feel better
I’ll face the weather before me...
All the uninvited tragedies
Step outside...
Amaryllis by Shinedown
Surfline: NW windswell blends with SW energy. Knee-waist-chest high waves show at exposed breaks, and shape starts off drained-out as the tide approaches a -0.1' low around 8:30am. Calm to very light wind early for generally clean surface conditions. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 3.9 ft at 14.8 s SW 47 / WIND WAVE: 0.7 ft at 3.8 s W / WVHT: 4.3 ft / APD: 7.7 s / MWD: 218° (Met) WSPD: 4 kn / GST: 6 kn / WVHT: 4.3 ft / DPD: 15.0 s / WDIR: 260° / ATMP: 55° F / WTMP: 54° F. Tide: 1.5' rising to 3'.

20 June 2012

Merry Solstice (Linda Mar)

After hoisting that big rock a few times, the dude in trunks ran into the surf. Brr!
It's International Surfing Day and summer solstice. I couldn't use Surfrider's absence excuse note to take the whole day off, but got in a dawnie with my posse before work. Though the waves looked totally meh, we were all in the spirit of the surfer holiday and paddled out anyway. J-Bird, Jacob and Darren went north of Taco Bell, while Perrin and I plus new buddy Marcia from Meetup stayed around Boat Docks. Deepak found us there later. 
It looked to me like the waves were closing out a lot more, and harder, just to the north, while the far south end offered the occasional shoulder with less risk of thrashing. I was on my 6'2" Rocket, but to ensure a decent dose of stoke, planned to switch partway through to my handplane, Ondine (Latin name meaning "little waves"). Marcia was also shortboarding on her similar M10 but she's better than I and had considerably more success. (She said "last wave" about five times and kept coming back for another, which made me smile.) I was having a lot of trouble getting into the waves, which often mushed out. No doubt the wrist splint's having the same deleterious effect on my paddling efficiency as it does on my swimming stroke. After missing two, I was likely too far inside of the next, but thought it might work out given the softness. Unfortunately wave #3 pitched up and tossed me over, and the nose of my board swung 'round to clock me in the kisser. First time snog of Rocket, I think. There was no blood, though my upper lip swelled to look like I got botoxed by a quack.
Marcia waiting for one more last wave
After more frustration, finally I was in the right place with the right timing and locked into a nice shoulder-high left with a decent shoulder. Woot! Marcia had cheered me into it, and said for her it often took just one like that to break a slump and then she'd get lots of waves for the rest of the session. Alas, that was not meant to be for me, though I kept trying until there was no time left to swap Rocket for Ondine.
I got a kiss from my board, one good wave, and a new shortboard surfing buddy. Happy ISD! 
Thanks to Perrin for snapping this pic of me leaving the ocean
Surfline: 3-4 ft+, poor conditions. Crumbled surf with mostly closed out shape on the negative low tide this morning. Look for an improvement in the surf as the tide fills back in through the morning. Primary NW windswell continues this morning and is joined by small NW groundswell (280-300) and minor SW swell. Surf isn't great, but very rideable for the first day of summer. Many breaks are in the 3-4'+ range, with head high and larger waves at standouts. Wind is light out of the South/SW this morning, and surface conditions are crumbled but overall pretty smooth. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 8.9 ft at 10.0 s NW 46 / WIND WAVE: 3.0 ft at 4.8 s NW / WVHT: 9.2 ft / APD: 7.8 s / MWD: 307° (Met) WSPD: 12 kn / GST: 16 kn / WDIR: 320° / ATMP: 52° F / WTMP: 51° F. Tide: Less than zero, rising.

17 June 2012

Surf Different (Linda Mar)

Somehow I managed to find Perrin in the major crowd that had surprisingly formed at Linda Mar before 9 am today. And it was pure luck that Manabu was getting out with his longboard nearby at the end of my session. It's always nice to see friends in the water.
It was exceptionally hot yesterday, and it is the cusp of summer so the weekend warriors have been joined by the summer surfers. Still, I hadn't expected the waves to be so heavily peppered with surfers when I crested the hill and got a first look at the cove. No matter, the south winds hacked up my usual less-populated breaks and I was ready to find waves on the empty inside with my 0'15" if I couldn't snare any from the pack on my 7'0".
A small group of longboarders dominated the lully south end at Boat Docks. My long-enough board got me into a couple of lefts, and I saw Perrin ride a few before she had to head in.
Perrin, stoked after a nice ride to the inside
The thumb spica splint isn't slowing me down too much, although it makes paddling less efficient and I had to ask another surfer on the beach to do my chest zip. My wrist still hurts at the cortisone injection site and I didn't want to overdo it, plus I was eager to try out my new handplane, so after catching a couple more waves I went back to the car and switched out gear to body surf.
I've never been good at body surfing, and wish I had someone to give me some tips on use of the handplane, which I'm figuring out by trial and error. Because my right wrist is messed up, I'm wearing the handplane on my left hand and working for lefts. As a precaution in the crowded conditions, I helmeted up - bright red, can't miss it - but the inside was nicely unpopulated, just a boy nearby on a sponge. A few waves rolled by me instead of giving me a lift, and I made myself look at the handplane. It's a tiny surfboard, much shorter, wider and thinner. Treat it as such. With that mindset, I adjusted the angle and soon after planed onto a wave for a fast ride. Woo! Amidst some misses, I got a few more after that, mostly lefts. But I'm having trouble staying ahead of the whitewater. After some face time, exhilarating in its intimacy with the wave, up close and personal, the roiling bubbles overtake me, force me to close my eyes and shoot water up my nose. Clearly more practice is called for.

A couple of days ago, Max suggested that I get some fin keepers, and I owe him a beer. My left fin pulled off early on, and I tightened straps down harder. Later, on a long left that took me past the oceanfront Taco Bell, the strap on the right one detached on one side; it would've been a goner, most likely, without the fin tether securing it to my ankle. I retired to the beach to try to re-attach strap to fin but was having trouble through my gloves. Fortuitously, Scott walked up just then, returning from his beach walk to Rockaway, and fixed it for me.

I wanted just one more wave, so headed back out to sea, thinking to kick my way back south a bit to my previous left. Sans surfboard, I need to pay more attention to the ocean, or at least attend to it in a different way. Whereas on my board it would've been a short matter to get back to the peak, despite entering at a rip, with only fins and a handplane, it was a lot of work to swim over there. I need to surf different when my board is just over a foot long. At last I reached the peak and rode a little left in, tired and waterlogged and stoked.
Surfline: 2-3'+. Semi-smooth surface conditions with just soft, weak lines working through. NW windswell holds as small, inconsistent SW (205-220) groundswell blends in at exposed areas. Chest-shoulder-head high waves show at exposed areas, while top breaks can see slightly better sets on occasion. Onshore wind out of the West-SW has surface conditions looking a bit textured/crumbly overall. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 4.6 ft at 9.1 s WNW 45 / WIND WAVE: 3.3 ft at 5.6 s NW / WVHT: 5.6 ft / APD: 5.8 s / MWD: 303° (Met) WSPD: 16 kn / GST: 19 kn / WVHT: 5.6 ft / DPD: 9.0 s / WDIR: 160° / ATMP: 52° F / WTMP: 51° F. Tide: 3' rising to 4'.

14 June 2012


Paulownia wood handplanes have arrived from Spirare...
Mine is on the swallow tail on the right, with a custom smaller strap
...just in time for phase II of my wrist convalescence. Can't wait to try it out!

13 June 2012

Washerwoman's Sprain

I guess this will work...
It's been almost three months since my right wrist started being a pain and was shortly thereafter declared a sprain by my GP. It still hasn't fully recovered, despite my best hope-orientated attempts and positive thoughts. So today I followed up on my doctor's referral and saw an orthopedist. She was quick to diagnose me with de Quervain's tenosynovitis (aka gamer's thumb, washerwoman's sprain, and mommy thumb), hopefully because it was blindingly obvious and not because she was in an HMO rush. After a cortisone injection into the offending tendon and application of a humongous splint, I was out the door, with instructions to pop high-dose Aleve twice daily and wear the sprint at all times except while bathing for the next month.

Unlike the wrist brace I wore earlier, the new splint wraps over my thumb, making common movements difficult and popping up again a challenge. Still, the doctor put no restrictions on surfing, swimming or other activities, except that I have to wear this darn thing, so I can't complain! I'll do what it takes to get past this and back on track toward my goal of being a decent shortboarder.

12 June 2012

Dancing & Dynamite (Miramar)

Since the Jetty was next to flat this morning, I drove back south a bit to the general vicinity of a new and more exposed spot in Half Moon Bay favorited by my buddy Manabu. No one was out and the waves were mixed up, but I could see a few possibilities. And having read this Old Guy Sage Advice just yesterday, I was going to surf, regardless.
Getting down the bluff to the beach was tricky; the nearest choices were a sort of stair/ladder/slide made of driftwood or a dirt path with a rope to get over the steepest bit. I went for the former, thinking it looked more manageable with a 7'0" surfboard.
Made it down!
The journey to the lineup was no easier once I got to the sand. I couldn't see a rip current, which left me relying on luck and fast paddling, and hoping for a lull. 
I persevered to the outside, where the waist- to chest-high waves were often doubling and tripling up, with a few shoulders here and there, and larger closeouts rolling through periodically.

Since I was alone, it was good practice in wave-reading, trying to paddle to the shifting peak position, letting the poorly-formed swells pass by, and paddling out to avoid closeout sets exploding on my head. After my share of misses, deliberate and otherwise, and a few mild beatings on the inside, I unproudly rode some whitewater. At last I caught a right and then a left, but couldn't keep my nose in the air on the drops. The waves were pitching, and I wished I'd brought my 6'2" instead.
Taking a clue from a triangular bubble pattern that seemed to form more consistently a bit north, I moved to a peak in front of the Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society. There I caught and rode a nice right, dancing over the bumps all the way to the shallows. It was even sweeter and stokier since I'd had to work so hard for it. Then the mad dash back to the lineup, where I searched for another such nugget. It took a while, but I found another fun right. Old Guy was right; I'm glad I paddled out. Stoked!
Made it back up!
Awesome name!
Surfline: Mainly NW windswell and some leftover SW groundswell continue this morning as we pass high tide. Surf for most better breaks is running waist-chest-head high, with a few slightly larger peaks for top windswell exposures. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 4.9 ft at 8.3 s WNW 44 / WIND WAVE: 6.2 ft at 5.9 s WNW / WVHT: 7.9 ft / APD: 6.3 s / MWD: 297° (Met) WSPD: 16 kn / GST: 19 kn / WVHT: 7.9 ft / DPD: 8.0 s / WDIR: 320° / ATMP: 53° F / WTMP: 52° F. Tide: 3.5' high, dropping slightly.

10 June 2012

Reward and Risk (HMB Jetty)

Baby picture; she's 2 now
Saturday I'd planned to make the long journey north to Bolinas in Marin County for a ladies longboarding day with Perrin, Caro, Heather and some of her surf girl friends. A serious medical crisis with our youngest cat, Zoe, scratched that plan. Before we visited her in the hospital this morning, I was able to surf closer to home and give thanks in the Church of Surf that she is out of danger. And that the wind was calm, letting waist- to chest-high+ waves roll in unmolested at my home break. I'd thought the surf would be smaller and didn't want to work too hard for my wave fix, so I'd brought my 7'0" Emm. After a disappointing last session and the stress of the last few days, I badly needed to ride some waves.

Christian came over in the parking lot to say hi, and I crossed the street with him, Vanessa and her buddy Bob. Early last week there was an alert for elevated levels of indicator bacteria at Surfer's Beach (only called that by non-surfers; it's the Jetty to us). Sure enough, there was a single warning sign, which the others missed because they took a different path down the low bluff. I didn't mention it, nor did I heed it. When the water was tested six days ago, who's to say if it's still contaminated or not?
Christian, Vanessa, and Bob hit the beach
I paddled out nearer the main break than my longboarding acquaintances, but found no joy there. The current pulled me southward to a better peak and I caught a handful of fun rights and lefts on the inconsistent sets. I was stoked to make a tricky drop and ride out a left, and had my longest green ride in a long time on a right that reformed several times. Yeah!
Vanessa sported a white Gath helmet, and when I drifted near, asked why I wasn't wearing mine. I explained that a couple bad hits of wipeout whiplash last year were almost certainly made worse by the helmet, so now I reserve it for special situations where head-whacking seems more likely (longboarding at a crowded spot over shallow reef, for example). She told me she'd left hers off for a while but hit her head on two occasions, on her longboard and on the bottom, so went back to wearing the helmet. It's a balancing of risks, and thus far, my calculation has been correct.
The tide was dropping and the wind was picking up a bit. As I awaited my last wave in, J-Bird paddled out with dry hair, wearing gloves against the chilly water. A lull ensured, and then we caught one together. As I passed laggard Jacob warming up on the beach, I offered the surfers' adage with a smile: "You should've been here earlier." Although I couldn't feel my toes at the end, it was a fun session.

Surfline: NW windswell drops but still offers chest-head high+ waves for exposed areas. SW (205-220) groundswell eventually tops out today with occasional 4'+ sets at select summer standouts. Light wind early, and the tide hits a 0.3' low around 10am. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 9.5 ft at 10.8 s NW 43 / WIND WAVE: 4.9 ft at 6.2 s NW / WVHT: 10.5 ft / APD: 7.6 s / MWD: 313° (Met) WSPD: 16 kn / GST: 17 kn / WVHT: 10.5 ft / DPD: 11.0 s / WDIR: 320° / ATMP: 52° F / WTMP: 50° F. Tide: 2' falling below 1'.

05 June 2012

2 For 2 (Hook/Sharks)

I drove for two hours to surf two decent waves.
 And that's all I have to say about that.
Surfline: Fun size SSW-S groundswell continues to offer up 3-4'+ surf at better exposed spots this afternoon while some minor NW windswell mixes in. Town spots remain mostly clean with WNW winds but the surf is a little on the inconsistent side. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 3.3 ft at 14.8 s SSW 42 / 3.3 ft at 10.0 s NW / WIND WAVE: 6.6 ft at 7.1 s WNW / WVHT: 7.2 ft / APD: 5.6 s / MWD: 296° (Met) WSPD: 23 kn / GST: 29 kn / WVHT: 7.2 ft / DPD: 7.0 s / WDIR: 310° / ATMP: 54° F / WTMP: 54° F. Tide: 2' low rising near 3'.

Let's Go Night Surfing

Moon over the SC Wharf
Night surfing is something I've wanted to try for a long time, especially after reading Mark's description in Surfing by Feel. So far, the closest I've come is staying out a bit past sunset at Cowells. Last night as we drove home from the City, the full moon glistening on the quiet water in San Francisco Bay, I thought about it again. If that were the ocean, there would be just enough light to see the waves. I'd hoped to try in the warm, less-toothed seas off Nicaragua, and even brought glowsticks on the trip for such an event, but packed them home again when I couldn't find company. In cold NorCal, however, a few buddies want to join me, so let's do it!

Here's the upcoming full moon schedule:
  • 03 July
  • 01 August
  • 31 August
  • 29 September
Keep an eye out around those dates for a confluence of suitable swell, tide, wind and clear night skies in San Mateo County, maybe at the Jetty or Linda Mar. And let's go niiiight suuuurfiiiing!

Update 29 September: Fog happens. Every darn full moon. Maybe someday...

03 June 2012

Wave Quest (Montara & Casi Miramar)

Church of Surf this Sunday was tentative planned for the Jetty, with potentially Manabu, Perrin, and J-Bird, Jacob, and Chris meeting me there. I left early to beat the MAMIL (middle-aged men in lycra) heading over the hill in a cycling race, and found the Jetty clean with a sideshore breeze, although small and inconsistent. Since I had a little time, I surf-checked Dunes as well; it was bigger there but marginally-shaped with a steady onshore wind, and the weather forecast suggested it would soon be blown out. I drove back to the Jetty, where half-suited Manabu thought Miramar might offer a middle compromise. While he checked it, I suited up. He reported it was better but someone there had suggested a check of Montara. So I phoned J-Bird, who gave an on-the-spot report that Montara looked good and we should drive up there.
Chris, Jacob and J-Bird, with Manabu suggesting "Over there?"
By some bizarre twist of weather and topology, winds at Montara were light. The waves were much bigger, and Chris and I watched as J-Bird, Jacob and Manabu attempted to paddle out through the whitewater. After a few minutes of watching them struggle, I realized I would never make it out that way. Using my brain instead of brawn I don't possess, I used a nearby rip to get outside. Jacob joined via the same path a little later, reporting that they'd been denied at their first entry spot.
Montara, looking easier than it was
The waves were bigger than the estimate J-Bird had proffered in the parking lot, and as I reached the lineup, I saw one of the few other guys out make a nice overhead drop on a right. Beginner Perrin was running late, and I sincerely hoped she wouldn't attempt to come out. I tried for a few waves, but wasn't in the right spot to get into them. Then I got caught inside on a set, ditching my board and diving deep, only to be dragged and spun shoreward by two waves. My wrist, elbows, and out-of-condition-due-to-injury body aren't up to such a bigger-wave thrashing, so when the third one broke outside of me, I rode the whitewater near shore, paddling over the trench to set my feet on the steep beach. Perrin was there, having already prudently decided to stay dry, and sand-encrusted J-Bird said she wanted to go somewhere else after being thoroughly worked on both the outside and inside.
Almost Miramar
So, back to Miramar. Or what we though was Miramar, in front of the beachside restaurant by the same name. Manabu had told me about it, but none of the rest of us had actually surfed there, and he arrived after us to surf the actual Miramar while we made the best of Casi (almost) Miramar.
The waves still packed some power but were under head high. There was a good deal of chop and many closeouts, but I got a few fun lefts on Rocket.
J-Bird and Perrin waiting for waves
The sermon at the Church of Surf was better last Sunday (although Jacob said he liked today's "fire and brimstone" beginning), but it was still fun to surf with my friends and good to be back on my shortboard.

Surfline: NW wind/groundswell mix gradually fades as new South-SSW(175-190) starts to move in late. Onshore Westerly wind prevails with bumpy/crumbly conditions for most areas as surf runs chest-head high+. The tide hit a -1.6' low around 4:30am and climbs to a 4.9' high at 11:30am. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 5.3 ft at 12.1 s WNW 41 / WIND WAVE: 1.3 ft at 4.2 s NW 40 / WVHT: 5.6 ft / APD: 7.3 s / MWD: 286° (Met) WSPD: 10 kn / GST: 12 kn / WVHT: 5.6 ft / DPD: 12.0 s / WDIR: 310° / ATMP: 54° F / WTMP: 53° F. Tide: 3' rising to 4.5' high.