30 November 2012

Happiness is Calling!

I've just accepted a job in San Diego, land of bootie-free surfing and beach living. My period of unemployment and our time in NorCal will soon be coming to a close. I'll miss all of my cold-water surf buddies but am excited to begin a new chapter in our lives.

26 November 2012

The Break Around the Corner (Rockaway)

There's a big storm coming that will bring swell and destroy it with strong winds. So of course I had to surf today. I'm not much into the whole holiday shopping thing anyway.

Two surfers were just finishing up a Dunes, and one of them told me it was better before but had lost its shape on the dropping tide. She then offered the report for Montara (too big), the Jetty (too small), and Linda Mar (closed out), but suggested that Miramar might be OK since she'd seen a couple people out. I drove on.
Dunes. I should've been there earlier.
She was right about them all, except that Miramar didn't have much going on either, and an onshore southwest wind was coming up in Half Moon Bay. As I neared my break of last resort, Linda Mar, I thought I might as well check a bit farther north at Rockaway, since the tide was dropping fast and I'd heard it could be good on a low tide.
There were just several guys out at the south end of Rockaway, a few going for big outside rights, and one riding smaller inside lefts, which seemed good to me. A dude in the parking lot (Todd of Mendonesia Surf) said something about it looking different but I told him this was only my second time. He then gave me a tip about the often-strong currents before darting to the beach with his colorful, wide, and leashless single fin shortboard.

It was true about the current. A helpful rip near the rocks was my conveyor belt, but it was hard to stay left of the peak with the steady push south. And as one of the other surfers commented, the wave was punchy - and I kept getting punched. After a wave hurled my head and shoulder into the sand bottom (that's gonna hurt tomorrow), I moved farther outside, recognizing that I couldn't surf there in waist-deep water without appreciable risk; I'm not that consistently good yet. It was definitely a more challenging place to surf than just around the corner and I'm glad I paddled out there instead of joining the lunch rush at Linda Mar.
When the stars (starfish?) aligned and I got into position and made the drop, I rode several sweet lefts that allowed for some turns. Soon it had been just me and Todd on the left, and he hooted me on one wave and called me into my last. It's so nice when someone brings a friendly vibe - a spirit of aloha - into the water. I left smiling in the sunshine, stoked and happy.

Surfline: NW swell continues to come down this afternoon while mixing with some small SSW swell. Waves are still fun size, mainly in the 3-5'+ range but the SW winds blowing right now are putting a little bit of texture/bump on the ocean surface at the more exposed spots. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 4.6 ft at 12.1 s WNW 108 / WIND WAVE: 1.3 ft at 4.0 s WNW / WVHT: 4.9 ft / APD: 6.9 s / MWD: 296° (Met) WSPD: 8 kn / GST: 10 kn / WVHT: 4.6 ft / DPD: 12.0 s / ATMP: 52° F / WTMP: 56° F. Tide: 2.5' falling to 1.5'.

24 November 2012

Off (HMB Jetty)

It wasn't yesterday. But: I got a few decent rides. Darren said Luke and I should've won an award for synchronized paddling (neither of us got the wave). And the beautiful summerish weather continues.
Surfline: Clean, fun surf on offer as West-WNW (270-310) swell eases through the day. Better exposed breaks continue to offer chest-shoulder-head high+ surf, as top spots pull in some 1-2' overhead sets. A deep 6' high tide topping out just before report time is slowing most of the region down substantially. Look for improving conditions through the morning as the tide backs out. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 5.3 ft at 11.4 s W 107 / WIND WAVE: 1.3 ft at 3.8 s NW / WVHT: 5.6 ft / APD: 6.8 s / MWD: 278° (Met) WSPD: 4 kn / GST: 6 kn / WVHT: 5.6 ft / DPD: 11.0 s / ATMP: 56° F / WTMP: 56° F. Tide: 3.5' falling to 2.5'.

23 November 2012

Blue Friday (Dunes)

Much better than shopping. Luke and I had a great surf (and credit to him for the post title). Stoked!
Surfline: Clean, fun surf on offer as West-WNW (270-310) swell eases through the day. Better exposed breaks continue to offer chest-shoulder-head high+ surf, as top spots pull in some 1-2' overhead sets. Look for improving conditions through the morning as the tide backs out. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 4.9 ft at 11.4 s WNW 106 / 4.6 ft at 14.8 s SW / WIND WAVE: 1.3 ft at 3.7 s NW / WVHT: 4.9 ft / APD: 6.5 s (Met) WSPD: 6 kn / GST: 8 kn / WVHT: 4.9 ft / DPD: 11.0 s / ATMP: 55° F / WTMP: 56° F. Tide: 4' falling to 2.5'.

20 November 2012

Shralping the Gnar (La Jolla Shores)

As I left the airport, I plucked a copy of 101 Things to Do in San Diego from a display of tourism brochures (which curiously also held a guide to Monterey Bay back home). It explained that surfing has been part of the city's culture since the Duke rode waves at Ocean Beach in 1916, and that "today, thousands of locals 'shralp the gnar' daily at San Diego's fine beaches." Say what?!
After my interview (which I think went pretty well, fingers crossed) and a drive around the beach neighborhood where we'd probably live, it was time to find a rental surfboard and go shralp me some gnar before my return flight. Luke had recommended Surf Diva's boards and I was lucky to find they had a 6'6" fish.
Pretty fishy
Sadly, the beaches down south are segregated
With a steady onshore breeze, the surf looked junk from the sand, yet somehow the Diva board turned junk to gold. The fish had three fin boxes but was set up as a twin and turned easily, while getting me into a lot of the mushy chest- to shoulder-high waves. Surfing without booties was icing on the cake. It was a great session - so much fun!
I could get used to this!
Surfline: Still fun as our peaky combo of mainly WNW and secondary SW swell eases. Most better exposed areas are continuing to see waves in the waist-chest high range, with some larger set waves for top exposures running shoulder high+. Onshore flow is slowly on the rise, but not hurting conditions too badly as the tide approaches a 4.14' mid afternoon high. Onshore flow continues to build through the afternoon, though, so best to get some waves now if you plan on surfing this afternoon. Buoy 46231: (Wave) SWELL: 2.6 ft at 12.5 s W 105 / WIND WAVE: 2.6 ft at 9.1 s WNW / WVHT: 3.9 ft / APD: 7.0 s / MWD: 275° (Met) WVHT: 3.9 ft / DPD: 13.0 s / WTMP: 64° F. Tide: 4' high falling slightly.

19 November 2012

The Water Will Be Warmer Tomorrow (Linda Mar)

I didn't need to stop the car to realize that the surf would be poor at the Jetty; there were whitecaps offshore and the flags were pointing almost straight inland. Sure enough, I had to drive on to Linda Mar. The wind had been light all morning but house chores delayed my Santa Cruz surf trip so much that I had to detour closer to home and join the breezy lunch rush. At Linda Mar, the gusty wind was more offshore and the south end had occasional shoulders although it was often breaking shallow.
Some shoulders on the south, maybe.
I paddled out just north of Boatdocks and tried to fight my way into some waist- to chest-high rights against the wind that often succeeded in pushing me off. After I'd moved to the right side of the pack to gain a bit of space, a janitor asked nicely if he could give me some advice. I always say yes whenever someone asks that; it may be stupid sometimes, but occasionally proves useful. He suggested where I should line up to be in better position away from the channel, and even offered to give me waves if he could. I wish all janitors were that nice! As I paddled to the spot he indicated, I swung into a nice left for probably my best ride of the session (although that's not saying much). Back in the lineup, I told him thanks. I hadn't wanted to sit there, inside of the middle of the crowd, but it turned out to be a good spot since most of the outliers were too far out and missed a lot of waves that then came to me. A bunch more rides later, most offering micro-shoulders, I was shivering in the wind in my old Rip Curl wetsuit despite the sunshine and air temperature in the low 60s.
About to close out the entire mid beach. Not going there.
Surfing Linda Mar is usually like eating a bag of potato chips; not very filling, but enough to keep you going for a little while. Tomorrow I'm off to San Diego for an interview, hopeful for the job and some warmer water waves.

Surfline: 4-7 ft, poor to fair conditions. Mostly clean, long and consistent lines with some random sections to pick off. Pretty walled/closed out overall. Mix of sun and clouds with SW winds around 5-10kts. Solid WNW(290-315) swell eases through the day as small SSW (195-215) swell blends in.  Waves run well overhead to double overhead for many areas. Standout exposures see larger sets to double overhead+ at times. Buoy 46026: (Wave) SWELL: 5.3 ft at 12.9 s WNW 104 / WIND WAVE: 3.9 ft at 5.9 s SW / WVHT: 6.6 ft / APD: 6.2 s / MWD: 294° (Met) WSPD: 16 kn / GST: 19 kn / WVHT: 6.9 ft / DPD: 13.0 s / ATMP: 57° F / WTMP: 55° F. Tide: Less than 4' rising to under 5'.

16 November 2012

The Sea and Me

I didn't grow up near the ocean, and it was a rare treat to go to an Atlantic beach a few times each summer. When I checked the map just now, I was surprised to see that it was a mere two hour drive, as it was a major effort to convince my parents to make the infrequent trek. My mother hated sand, and my father was happy to bob around with me in the closest body of water, the pool at our apartment complex.

Although I attended college in a Florida beach town, and began my career on the southern California coast, I didn't forge a bond with the ocean until a job took me back to the Sunshine State and I tried surfing for the first time. My first ride on a 10-foot foamie in knee-high waves forged a link that can never be broken.

When the vagaries of the job market took me to Seattle, I gamely bought a 5-mil wetsuit and drove two-and-a-half hours to the coast on weekends to kook it up in cold whitewater, whenever the swell wasn't huge and blowout. And I made a promise to myself, on those dark rainy days when I hadn't surfed for far too long: I would never, ever again live far from the ocean. It's a part of me, and I am a part of it.

For the last six years, I've had the good fortune to work in Silicon Valley and live half an hour's drive from my home break, the Jetty in Half Moon Bay. But I was recently laid off, and will likely have to relocate. Where? I don't know. But it has to be near Mother Ocean.

15 November 2012

Wavefest (Venice)

A veritable wavefest today! It was smaller than yesterday, about chest high, and almost windless. Although Luke and I weren't alone, the other two guys kept their distance and there were peaks for everyone. I lost track of how many waves I rode on Rocket. Best session in a long while!
My buddy and I shared a couple of waves. On a sectiony one, I was behind him going right. A few minutes later, we split a peak, each riding on our frontside. He said the right closed out on him but the left offered me a fun shoulder to play on. Between sets, we had a nice chat about dopamine, inconsistent rewards, and other aspects of being a surf addict.
This dude warmed up the waves for us, then left
Duty called and Luke went in after about an hour, but I stayed a bit longer, not wanting the fun to end although the tide was rising near a king high. We'd moved south on purpose, so he had a little walk on the beach back to the parking lot. After another right, I decided to shorten my walk by riding a left some of that distance. I caught another playful one and rode shoreward, forgetting to pull out before it reformed as shorepound. I bailed last minute and took a light board-slap to the chin, but it couldn't wipe the stoked smile off of my face. Soooo much fun!!
Stoked Surfergrrrl (photo by Luke)
Surfline: Easing WNW swell and minor/background SSW swell combine today for 2-3 occ. 4' surf at better breaks of the region. Winds are light once again and conditions clean for the dawn patrol but expect a little more onshore flow this afternoon. Big high tide has things pretty swamped out and slow through the morning though. Buoy 46026: (Wave) SWELL: 2.0 ft at 10.0 s W 103 / WIND WAVE: 1.6 ft at 3.1 s E / WVHT: 2.6 ft / APD: 4.5 s / MWD: 277° (Met) WSPD: 10 kn / GST: 14 kn / WVHT: 2.6 ft / DPD: 10.0 s / ATMP: 57° F / WTMP: 55° F. Tide: 5' rising to 6'.

14 November 2012

King Tide (Venice)

Fun short session with Luke this morning approaching a high king tide. I was pleased to make so many waves despite a strong offshore since I've had trouble with that in the past. The breeze was a bit northerly so taking off left was like a getting a garden hose to the face - the spray was blinding - so mostly I went right on Rocket. A couple of the shoulder-high+ waves offered some face, and one in particular had me zooming past Luke paddling back from the inside. Yeah!
I was so not looking at the sign when I took this! But we didn't go in the creek.
Fleeting rainbows appeared in the spray as waves crested. It was just me and my friend and a flock of birds, with not another soul in sight on the water or the beach. Can't beat starting the day like that!
Surfline: Another morning with great conditions and offshore winds. Surf pretty much remains the same as the last few days, primary WNW swell and minor SSW swell being slowed by a big mid morning high tide. Still, waist high waves are pretty common while standout spots hit the chest-shoulder high range on sets. Buoy 46026: (Wave) SWELL: 3.0 ft at 12.1 s W 102 / WIND WAVE: 2.0 ft at 3.3 s E / WVHT: 3.6 ft / APD: 5.4 s / MWD: 279° (Met) WSPD: 14 kn / GST: 16 kn / WVHT: 3.6 ft / DPD: 12.0 s / ATMP: 56° F / WTMP: 54° F. Tide: 5' rising to 6.5'.

13 November 2012

Lunch Rush (Linda Mar)

Today I observed that there is a lunch rush at Linda Mar. The lucky duckies who get to surf on their midday break were packing the peaks when I arrived, and many had cleared out by the time I left.
The waves were mostly closed out, except on the north end bordering a helpful rip current near Crespi. With the current from a fast-dropping king tide, an offshore breeze, and the lunch crowd, it was hard to stay in position, but I got a handful of rides, some decent, and my usual helping of wipeouts. I enjoyed one very nice shoulder-high left with plenty of shoulder to practice turns on Rocket. With just the sailboat-like swish of my board planing on the sea, it was quiet on the face. Too quiet; I'd gotten too far ahead of the lip and couldn't find my way back in time. As the wave went on, I dropped into calm water, smiling.

Surfline: 2-3 ft+, fair conditions. Clean, fun surf continues this afternoon with light winds and a peaky mix of WNW and SSW swell. 3-4' waves are the norm with standouts hitting the head high range on sets. Outgoing tide is helping most spots as well. Buoy 46026: (Wave) SWELL: 3.9 ft at 9.1 s W 101 / WIND WAVE: 1.0 ft at 3.1 s E / WVHT: 3.9 ft / APD: 6.9 s / MWD: 277° (Met) WSPD: 6 kn / GST: 6 kn / WVHT: 3.9 ft / DPD: 9.0 s / ATMP: 55° F / WTMP: 55° F. Tide: 4.5' falling to 2'.

10 November 2012

Birthday Party Waves (38th Ave)

J-Bird, Perrin, Heather, Rose & Max
Unlike prior years, I didn't get a new surfboard for my birthday (I feel like I have more learning to do on Rocket anyway), and I didn't spend my birthday riding waves someplace tropical. Getting laid off has a way of throwing the usual plans - and life in general - into disarray. But I did get to enjoy a lovely sunny day surfing eastside Santa Cruz with three of my best surfer girl friends.

I showed up a bit late for my own birthday surf. J-Bird, Heather and Perrin had already arrived and the early 'Bird made the call for 38th Ave. We were joined by Rose and Max. I'd brought my 8'3" Magic for Perrin to try, and little Nemo for myself. The soft small waves at 38th were good for longboarding but a bit challenging on the fish. Dropping tide improved conditions, although with the weekend crowd I still had to sit inside and catch them fairly late. That put me near Max, who also had a fish but much bigger than mine. Big fish, little fish.
Seal! Otters were out today too.
Some random dude
Perrin started off sitting way to the right of the break, which had too much water on it to work initially. I called her over to my spot on the left close to Jack's house, then into her first wave on Magic. I hooted as she rode all the way to the inside, then paddled back with a big smile on her face. She said the board's much tippier than her beginner log and she expected to fall right away, then was surprised not to. Perrin got a bunch more nice rides during our two-and-a-half hour session. So stoked for her!
Perrin after her first Magic ride
Happy 'Bird
Just after I handed Perrin my camera, a set rolled through and she scrambled to keep from dropping it
J-Bird and Heather were riding longboards too and also getting good long rides. Mine were not so long, since the waves lacked enough push to keep my 5'4" fishie moving as they neared the shore. And I had to really paddle hard to get into them. Still I got a bunch of rides, lefts and rights, some with fun little shoulders to start. And I think I rode a wave with each of my friends, going left on the inside as they rode right from farther out. Great birthday party waves on a beautiful day! Yew!
Post-surf lunch at Margaritaville

Surfline: We have a mix of SSW groundswell and easing NW windswell. Conditions remain clean with light wind early, but many areas are very inconsistent at the moment. When the sets do work through, expect waves in the 3-4'+ zone, especially as the tide begins to drop out. Buoy 46026: (Wave) SWELL: 6.2 ft at 11.4 s NW 100 / WIND WAVE: 3.6 ft at 5.6 s WNW / WVHT: 7.2 ft / APD: 6.7 s / MWD: 313° (Met) WSPD: 16 kn / GST: 19 kn / WVHT: 7.2 ft / DPD: 11.0 s / ATMP: 53° F / WTMP: 55° F. Tide: 3' falling to 0.5'.
Ain't California grand?

06 November 2012

Reluctant Rocket (HMB Jetty)

Rocket was reluctant to leave the board bag this morning. Very reluctant. After tugging and shaking, twisting and pulling for several minutes, I'd only dislodged my board a few inches. The bag is a tight fit, and I assume the warm weather melted the wax just enough to get Rocket stuck inside. I gave up and asked a nearby surfer boy to help out. With him pulling the board and me hanging onto the bag, we finally got Rocket free to surf.
Perhaps I should have taken Rocket's reluctance as a sign. The warbly waves were mostly closed out, head-high to a bit over on the sets and punchy. I spent an unfortunate amount of time getting rolled. I'd told the friend of Rocket-Freer where the submerged rocks are before we paddled out, and I found one of them with my knee during a particularly thorough thrashing. For my trouble I got one decent bouncy left. It was a smaller wave, about chest high, but I was happy to have a shoulder to play on, however briefly. When I was ready to come in, I caught another left that sectioned right away but let me ride a little before dropping me in the heavy slosh near the riprap wall.
Still, the weather was beautiful! So no complaints. Any day surfing is a good day.

Late fall bloom
Surfline: Strong, reinforcing pulse of WNW (270-310) swell joins continued/solid NW-WNW (290-310) energy this morning. Better breaks are running head high+ to double overhead range while standout exposures pull in some solidly double overhead+ sets. Challenging but good surf. Setting up to be another classic Fall day. Buoy 46026: (Wave) SWELL: 6.9 ft at 13.8 s WNW 99 / WIND WAVE: 1.0 ft at 3.1 s ENE / WVHT: 6.9 ft / APD: 9.2 s / MWD: 288° (Met) WSPD: 8 kn / GST: 10 kn / WVHT: 7.6 ft / DPD: 14.0 s / ATMP: 62° F / WTMP: 58° F. Tide: 3' low rising slowly to over 3.5'.
Don't forget to vote!

05 November 2012

Not-Really-Cold Water Classic (Pleasure Point)

Today I journeyed south to Santa Cruz to surf on the eastside and watch the O'Neill Cold Water Classic on the westside. The ocean is at its warmest now, 62°F/16°C per the strip thermometer on my surfboard, not really cold at all. And to top it off, we're having a late-season heat wave so the air was 80°F/26°C. They should hold the contest in January to better fit the name.
The eastside was dismayingly crowded for the middle of a weekday. As I'd snagged the last open parking space at the Hook, I was loathe to leave to check Capitola. I asked the usual question of a surfer returning to her car next to mine, and she said, "Not very good. The Point actually looks a lot better."
Blurry surfer, blurry otter
Oh, what a beautiful day!
I paddled out at 38th but it was too soft on the high tide, so I kept going toward Pleasure Point, where better waves beckoned in the distance. I thought to try for some of the closer inside waves, but they always backed off. More paddling, then, to get closer to the main peak. Getting a bit frustrated with the mushy waves and the crowd, I rode a few from whitewater after their riders had passed. Then I paddled some more toward the Point proper.
At last a wave swung wide toward me and I caught it green, turning midface, having a nice stokeful ride until it started to lose speed and I cut back toward the peak - then a longboarder who was riding straight down the line behind me in the whitewater called me off, and I let her have it. Not the time to quibble about right of way, but darn. It was nice while it lasted.
Another wave came close behind it and I rode energetic whitewater farther in till it fizzled out, paddling over the deep section to exit at the new stairs. Then I had a long walk back to my car along the cliff top, the blue bay below sparkling in the warm sunshine.
Over on the westside at Steamer Lane, the last heat of the day was underway. (Too bad I just missed Kelly Slater's heat; maybe I shouldn't have stopped for my surfer's lunch of a vegan donut from Whole Foods.) Matt Wilkinson (red jersey), Adriano De Souza (black), and Damien Hobgood (yellow) were in the water. I politely squeezed up to the fence, climbed over and even found a spot on a bench next to the stairs.
Damien Hobgood and Adriano De Souza
Matt Wilkinson, the winner of the heat
Not that warm
As soon as the contest ended, "recreational" surfers (the announcer's word) were allowed back onto the peaks. A really talented grom shredded a long wave and the crowd gave him a big cheer. Then a woman paddled out on a longboard wearing a bikini and I saw her get a good ride, but she didn't stay long. The water's not that warm.

Surfline: NW-WNW (290-310) swell holds the most size through the morning, before slowly easing later in the day, and mixes with minimal Southern Hemi energy. Better exposed breaks are running chest-shoulder-head high+, with sets in the 1-2'+ overhead range at good breaks. Standout focal points are even a notch better on the best sets. Conditions are nice and clean. Buoy 46026: (Wave) SWELL: 5.9 ft at 10.8 s WNW 98 / WIND WAVE: 2.0 ft at 5.6 s WNW / WVHT: 6.2 ft / APD: 7.9 s / MWD: 297° (Met) WSPD: 10 kn / GST: 14 kn / WVHT: 6.6 ft / DPD: 11.0 s / ATMP: 64° F / WTMP: 58° F. Tide: Just under 4' rising to 4'.

04 November 2012

Joie de Vivre (HMB Jetty)

The pews at the Jetty were packed for Church of Surf with a few friends (Luke, Heather, Manabu and Steve) and a lot of strangers - my uncrowded midday, midweek session spoiled me - but I got a handful of fun CH-HH rights and lefts on Rocket in a short time nevertheless. Some of the waves were quite bouncy on the higher tide.
I drove home with a stoked smile and the sun on my face, warm wind in my wet hair from the open windows and sunroof, sand in my ears, and the stereo blasting good tunes: Happy!

Surfline: WNW (260-290) swell builds further and mixes with small, inconsistent SW swell with head high to overhead surf at exposed areas initially. Top breaks see larger sets. Light offshore flow early is good for smooth surface conditions, and the tide drops to a 3.59' low just before 8am. Size picks up further into the afternoon as a new, longer-period NW-WNW(290-310) groundswell shows. Buoy 46026: (Wave) SWELL: 6.2 ft at 11.4 s WNW 97 / WIND WAVE: 1.3 ft at 3.8 s W / WVHT: 6.6 ft / APD: 8.9 s / MWD: 288° (Met) WSPD: 4 kn / GST: 6 kn / WVHT: 6.6 ft / DPD: 11.0 s / ATMP: 57° F / WTMP: 58° F. Tide: Under 3.5' rising to almost 4'.

01 November 2012

Rocket Sings (HMB Jetty)

Ooo la la, that was a fun session at the Jetty! My first wave was the best, a right that I think was a little over my head. I dropped in perfectly and turned mid-face for a good fast ride, dropping off near shore in front of one of the two other shortboarders in the water. Rocket really sings in the bigger stuff.
After those guys left I had the break all to myself for a while, until a janitor showed up, but there was plenty of room and waves for everyone. The Jetty was doing its shifty, backwashy thing, so it was kind of right time, right place. It was my best session in a while and I got a batch of other rides, mostly smaller rights, pretty fun although none topped the first. The last wave came close, bringing me to the beach with a big smile on my face. Stoked!
Surfline: Mid period WNW swell continues this afternoon while minor SW swell lingers. Good exposures are running in the chest-head high range while standout winter breaks go overhead+ on the best sets. Winds are light/variable for clean conditions. Look for improving conditions through the afternoon as the tide backs out. Buoy 46026: (Wave) SWELL: 6.2 ft at 10.0 s WNW 96 / WIND WAVE: 1.3 ft at 3.6 s SW / WVHT: 6.2 ft / APD: 7.6 s / MWD: 285° (Met) WSPD: 4 kn / GST: 6 kn / WVHT: 5.9 ft / DPD: 9.0 s / ATMP: 56° F / WTMP: 58° F. Tide: 4' falling to 2.5'.