25 September 2014

A Flock of Seagulls

A northwest swell is forecast to fill in today, but since the nearshore buoy still showed small in the morning, I figured I'd just surf local beach break. Then I saw the Surfline report:
My favorite reef break is next door to Birdrock, so of course I had to check it. At first, all I saw was a large flock of seagulls bobbing on a flat sea. Despite the report, there was no one out at Birdrock. 
Aside, since it's Throwback Thursday, do you remember the band A Flock of Seagulls?
Also, one of my favorite books when I was a kid was Jonathan Livingston Seagull. And Shore Buddies offers these adorable squawking plush seagulls with a donation to Surfrider San Diego for each one you buy.
Now back to the present day surf story. A set happened to roll through while I was checking, a bit south of where I've been surfing the SW swells, and it looked promising. Plus a shortboarder paddled out to inside Sewers. And I was starting to overheat in my 3/2 fullsuit; probably could've gotten away with the 2-mil short jane today. So hell yeah, I'm grabbing Rocket and going in!

The water was clearer than it's been. I could see my feet below my board, and the small fish (anchovies?) that had probably drawn the seagulls. With no pack of surfers for reference, long lulls, a bit of current, and the shiftiness of the waves, it was not easy to line up. But I found my place after a time and achieved one quite nice left, the green wall rising beside my head and smooth water sliding under my board before the wave sectioned. On the high tide, the backwash put a big bump in the face, and that was the only wave where I'd already been on my feet and able to navigate it, with a "Whoa", and then a "Wooooo.... hooooo!" as it formed up nicely beyond. The other rides were less memorable, but I paddled back through the flock toward the stony beach with a smile on my face.

23 September 2014

Summer Slipping Away

Too quickly, I went from surfing comfortably in a 1-mil vest and Seea leggings, to shivering a little in my 2-mil short jane and wishing for my 3/2 fullsuit. It's the first day of fall, and it shows.
From the Surfline cam
I'd been out of the water - no, just away from my surfboards - for five days, and that showed too. My first maneuver was a cartwheel that began with a pearl and featured a complete inversion while I clung to my 6'2". How embarrassing. Fortunately there were not many around to witness it, and my surfing could not help but improve from there. The waves were pretty fun, although small, and I stretched my 3-decent-waves minimum to include several more before I was done. Little stoked.

And now here's some eye candy from my weekend on a friend's sailboat moored off of Catalina Island - an experience which completely disabused me of the notion of living on a boat, due to extreme sleep deprivation. Swells are best as surf.
Buffalo really do look like cartoon animals. Overlooking one of the Two Harbors at the Isthmus.
Perspective. It wasn't THAT big. (photo by Collin)
Yeah, right... If you want to jump off a cliff
At the rock a short swim from our boat in Emerald Bay - like snorkeling in an aquarium
One of many garibaldis, the California state fish
The Getaway moored in Emerald Bay
Two Cynthias, sailing home

18 September 2014

Second Shift for the Win

Christina and Steve invited me to join them for dawn patrol but I couldn't make it that early. I did, however, request a report after they'd surfed. Crickets. I had to assume the waves were so good they were still in the water after two hours.

Since I was already suited up when Christina texted "blown out and crappy"- she'd actually been stuck in traffic - I thought I might as well check it myself. That's the benefit of living blocks from the beach.
From the overlook, I saw Steve heading for the exit.
More guys were out than yesterday but the waves looked worse: jumbled and disorganized as a NW swell joined the fading SW.

There was also a dude in Calumet park flying a quadcopter. He showed me a really cool shot he took of a wave crashing into the bottom of the bluff. It was a unique view - for nonsurfers.

I met Steve on the cobblestone beach. He actually had been out for over two hours, mostly at Hairmos, and reported that it was inconsistent and not as good as the last couple days. No way I wasn't surfing though, having made it down the treacherous muddy path and already sweating in my 2-mil short jane.

Waves were breaking more often on the rocky shore but I timed it right for a dry-hair paddle out through the murky water. The surf may have been worse than yesterday but I was better. I rode so many waves that I was surprised when I got out to find that it had been only about an hour.

Back at the car, just before I turned the key (rather, pushed the start button), a familiar voice asked, "Anything to ride out there?" It was Jason, my RAP committee co-chair, on a rare break from work. I hope he had as much fun as I did.

17 September 2014

That's How the Story Goes

I'm not sure if the waves were worse today, but I know I was. While I really enjoyed the 30 Seconds to Mars concert last night, my husband made me stay for Linkin Park, turning it into a late night and setting me up to be sluggish in the surf this morning.
My phone saw Jared Leto as a glowing ghost in every photo
Still, I rode a couple of nice lefts while intermittently getting smashed for my slowness.

16 September 2014

Big Ideas, Hot Air and Warm Water

Early this morning (but not early in the UK), Mpora Action Sports Magazine posted my latest piece, which they entitled Second-Class Waves And Sleazy Ads: Why Women Are Still Fighting For Equality In Action Sports. For the article, I was fortunate to be able to interview by email a couple of the current top women in professional surfing and skateboarding, Paige Hareb:
and Amelia Brodka*:
I'd worked all day Monday to finish the piece, and after it published, I went surfing.

A new southwest swell filled in and brought overhead waves to the La Jolla reefs. The water continues warm, and I'm still surfing in a 1-mil vest and my Seea leggings, with reef booties to protect against the cobblestones. I caught a really nice long left at Hennemans, and then a shorter right. The few guys out when I started had gone in, and I couldn't see my feet in the murky, silty water. Heck, I couldn't see my fingertips when I paddled. Despite the hot sunshine, it felt creepy sitting all alone in low-visibility water. I mean, a shark might take a nibble, just 'cause it couldn't see what the heck you were, right? In NorCal, the water visibility was never good and I should still be used to that, but...

Steve had paddled past Hennemans to Hairmos, and I decided I'd like some company. Maybe the water wasn't so muddy over there. It was a long paddle and I'd almost reached him when a set wave swung wide and I turned to catch it riding far to the inside. After another long paddle, we chatted a bit before he disappeared on the first wave of the next set. The only other dude near us took the next, and I got a later one.

The breeze was coming up in earnest, and the waves were getting a bit messy. It was hard to stay in position, and with the wind pushing me too deep, I barely made it over to the shoulder as another large set rolled through. Hennemans looked less lonely with a couple other surfers, so I trekked back over and rode a wave in. It wasn't even noon, but I was already stoked on the day.

*If you're in the San Diego area, mark your calendars for November 8th. That's the 3rd annual EXPOSURE women's skateboarding benefit event at the Encinitas YMCA. Amelia says "EXPOSURE is a step towards a 'solution.' It is a nonprofit that seeks to create more opportunities for women in skateboarding. The event offers free skate clinics, yoga clinics, amateur and pro vert and bowl events as well as autograph signings by both male and female skateboarders and surfers. EXPOSURE brings amateur and pro female skaters together to showcase their abilities and progress in an empowering environment." So come out to see some great skating and be sure to say "hi" to me at the Surfrider table. 

15 September 2014

Small Surf for the Surfriders

Friday I took the train to Ventura to attend a weekend-long Surfrider California/Hawaii Chapter Conference with other leaders from the San Diego chapter. (For the last couple of months, I've been co-chair of the Rise Above Plastics committee.) No one was playing hooky since the surf was small and uninspiring. Instead we stayed inside the conference room, getting energized and inspired, but I did get out for dawn patrols before the meetings began. Amtrak allows a surfboard 6'0" and under to be carried on for free, so of course I'd brought my 5'4" certified Ecoboard to an environmental group's conference.

The first morning, I was supposed to meet up with young Sam from the Santa Cruz chapter, but he was late. Instead I paddled out with Jack from Mississipi, who was there for a neuroscience conference. He'd just bought a 4/3 wetsuit, and brought a newish shortboard that he hadn't ridden much as landlocked living affords little opportunity. Gradually we figured out the unfamiliar break (it took me longer) and I scored one actually nice wave. Sam showed up eventually, and we were a few shortboarders amongst a growing throng of longboarders and SUPs.

On the second day, I woke up well before dawn and paddled out on Christina time, barely able to see the waves in the dim light. It was well worth it: no crowd and better surf on a slightly higher tide than Saturday meant I rode a bunch of fun little waves before falling tide and rising crowd encouraged me to leave for breakfast. But first I watched the sunrise from the water, the glassy sea lighting up a satiny orange path to the glowing orb as it peeked through the pier.

Here's the weekend in pictures:
Del Mar from the train
We passed by Trestles and the Hurley/Swatch Pros (on lay day)
Train perspective on the Oceanside pier
View from the 6th floor room I shared with Haley
First night party was at house with an expansive vista 
I surfed just after dawn with Jack from Mississipi who was there for another conference
Oceanside pier from the 12th floor conference room
Ventura sunset
I never win raffles, but at Saturday's party I won 3 times - including this print - and once for Sam
San Diego crew: James (partly), Randy, Manase, Haley, Roger, Patrick, Jason
Mermen in a shop window in town
Surfer's Point from the pier
So glad I beat the crowd
Shaun Tompson wrapping it up. 
                               I need the sea because it teaches me.
                               I don't know if I learn music or awareness,
                               if it's a single wave or its vast existence,
                               or only its harsh voice or its shining one,
                               a suggestion of fishes and ships.
                               The fact is that until I fall asleep,
                               in some magnetic way I move in
                               the university of the waves.

                               Pablo Neruda

05 September 2014

For Christina

Hi, Christina! Sorry you couldn't make it out this morning, but you didn't miss much. There were only a few waves in each set and the lulls were so long between them that you wouldn't have caught many in a 45-minute sesh before work.
I scored three long rides, one right and two lefts, in over an hour. So lovely to watch the smooth green wall beside me!

02 September 2014

We Get Our Beach Back

Yesterday was Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer. The tourists are done touring, the workers are back at work, and the kids are in class again. So even though the sun had already risen into a clear sky by the time I reached the coast, the waves were much less cluttered with surfers than in quite some time.

In fact, from atop the bluff at Calumet Park, I could see only one other surfer at any of the breaks; at South Birdrock, a lonely guy waited patiently. And waited. There wasn't much going on, but I watched for a little while, just in case, while listening to the somehow peaceful cracks and clacks of the cobbles rolling in the shore break.
The steep and muddy path down to the cobblestone beach
There seems to be some ambiguity in the names of the breaks in this part of La Jolla, but I believe I've been surfing Hennemans, straight out from the park - although Franko's Map of San Diego Surfing calls it Hannamonds. To the south, before PB Point, is Hairmos. To the north, toward Birdrock, is Sewers. At least that's what my new friend Jason told me, but even he wasn't quite certain about it.
Hennemans, or Hannamonds
A couple of old dudes with dogs had been watching the surf, and one of them told me that only V-Wall seemed to have anything maybe rideable, with a few-wave set every 10 minutes or so. V-Wall, he said, is about 70 yards south of South Birdrock. Franko's also sticks a peak called Cindy's in that same area. It's kind of like Santa Cruz, with a plethora of named breaks in close proximity.
Ah, but a rose by any other name... did not smell as sweet this morning. So I headed on down the road to Crystal Pier. As I arrived, Howard was leaving the beach with his longboard tucked under his arm. He said the surf was pretty bad, but "The holiday's over and we've got our beach back!" Indeed, the testy mob I'd had the misfortune to surf with there at the start of the weekend was gone, replaced by the familiar faces of a handful of locals, including Hawaiian-looking Eddie (no way I'll forget his name), Brian, and a few others I know only by sight. One of those guys called over to me, "Hey, what's your name? I just know you as the girl with the MINI Cooper." His name turned out to be Harry, and he's a mechanic; with my car having just rolled 100K miles, I wished he'd had a waterproof business card stashed in his wetsuit.
Although the waves were more plentiful than at the reefs, they were weak, disorganized, and mostly walled. I paddled out next to the pier and directly into position for a little left, then waited a while to be in the right place again.
The water was warm and glassy, and studded with shimmery silver fish. Although I only found a few short shoulders, it was a lovely morning to be on the water, surrounded by a small group of friendly surfers chatting and sharing waves. No better way to start the day!