G. Niblock on the L41 TipSUP Noserider. Photo: J. Chandler

Monday, July 30, 2007

Wind Swell Beach Break

With the current weather pattern firmly in place a steady drumbeat of downslope, onshore winds are creating chest high waves at the local beaches. It's somewhat dismal arriving at the beach to experience the same shade grayness, the onshore winds and the less than epic looking waves. But these consistently shifting sand bar sculpted beauties are better than no waves, and I've got no complaints. I'm back with shorty again and found an empty peak in plain sight. Surfed it for over an hour by myself and caught 18 waves...another good catch. Peaks were shifting east and west as is the norm for this beach break, and the sand bars this year peak in long lines laterally with the beach before dropping off a bit and then rebuilding. What this yields are waves at higher tide that jack up and then back off before cresting, making them harder to catch on a shorter board. Found some good lefts and rights though, good workout, surf jones satisfied.

July 30, 2007 (M)

In: 0945

1st Wave: 0950

Out: 1100

Wave count: 18



Wx: Thick marine layer overcast

Tide: Rising (2.7' to 3.7')

Wind: Moderate from the west northwest

Sea Surface: Light chop

Buoy: NWS

0900: 6.2 @ 10 NW

1000: 5.9 @ 8.3 NW

1100: 6.6 @ 10 NW

1100: 7.2 @ 9.1 NW

Quad Fish - Fins:Future Scimitar 451 (F) 375 Pivot (R)

Beaches: Sand bars

Waves: 3' @ 10 Storm Surf Buoy Model

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Wave Knowledge, Forecasting and Fun

With not much going on my thoughts turn to forecasting. Today anyone with a computer and an internet connection can become a surf forecaster. And with forecasting websites devoted to or including forecasting in the format it's pretty easy to stay updated on the action. Surfline, wetSand, Storm Surf and WaveWatch are just four of the pre-formatted data dispensers. Where in the past an entire swell may have alluded the inattentive, it's almost impossible to miss out on a bonfide swell unless you goofed it big time with your sweetie, or work sends you to Iowa or Khazakstan.

And with the proliferation of web cams you don't even have to leave your dwelling to see if there's anything ridable,'s still possible to miss out on a good session. Why? Because nothing replaces putting your eyes on the waves and knowing the nuances of your favorite breaks like the back of your hand. Not everyone has a "secret spot" like Water On Mars, or Daniel Duane's north coast kelpy point in his novel Caught Inside. But you can score waves in uncrowded or relatively uncrowded spots by checking them regularly and knowing how they break, when and why.

For instance I've got a couple spots that I like to call secret in plain view. The reason is because these spots break under certain specific conditions and the rest of the time they don't. One break needs the tide to be between minus one and plus one foot. Anything less or greater and it either washes out or closes out. And if the swell is too big, it doesn't work. But on those magic days when it fits the're looking at a high wave count in a post a-bomb population. Throw in a lusty offshore scenario and it's time to journal an epic session. The other spot needs a ton of sand covering the rock ledge bottom. No sand, no good waves. When does this happen? Well, not in the winter when the large swells and strong currents scrub the bottom clean for months.

Fun surfing is about so much more than the short time we spend standing upright on a surfboard. Surfing is beyond the merely physical. Surfing is a sport, a hobby, a vocation for some and an avocation for most that should sharpen our intellect, all our senses and our awe at the majestic powers that create the objects of our love, respect and fascination.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Gray Bay Days

Heavy and thick marine layer. Good visibility, high overcast. Wind steady from the southeast. Choppy, no white caps. Nearby windswell, chest high low energy olas...always something to ride. I'm in with six people, they leave...I'm alone. An hour goes by...I've got sixteen waves...I'm is good.

July 26, 2007 (Th)

In: 0845

1st Wave: 0850

Out: 1020

Wave count: 16



Wx: Thick overcast

Tide: Rising (3.2' to 3.6')

Wind: Moderate from the southeast

Sea Surface: Choppy

Buoy: NWS

0800: 4.9 @ 7.7 NW

0900: 5.2 @ 8.3 WNW

1000: 5.2 @ 9.1 NW

1100: 5.9 @ 7.7 NW

Quad Fish - Fins:Future Scimitar 451 (F) 375 Pivot (R)

Beaches: Sand bars

Waves: 3' @ 12.6 Storm Surf Buoy Model

Monday, July 23, 2007

Wind Swell Up

The upside of the demise of all this glorious weather is a return to the pressure gradients which usually dominate during the summer months. The north-south Arcata to SF gradient is positive thus creating the winds needed to create local windswell. While the weekend featured perfect weather for the Wharf to Wharf Race (over 50 bands played including the world famous cruz-clown accordion ensemble), the nasent return to the usual has gifted we surfers with chest high combers that are fun for shorters and longers alike. I picked off a number of lefts and rights at several different peaks up and down the beach. I landed 18 waves in an hour and a half, a good catch. Vibe in the water was good. Aloha - "Share the spirit."
July 23, 2007 (M)
In: 0950
1st Wave: 0955
Out: 1130
Wave count: 18
Wx: Thick fog burning off to high monsoonal cloud cover
Tide: Falling (2.8' to 2.9') Rising
Wind: Very light from the southeast
Sea Surface: Light sheet rock-like stipple
Buoy: NWS
0900: 3.9 @ 9.1 WNW
1000: 3.9 @ 9.1 WNW
1100: 3.9 @ 10 WNW
1200: 3.3 @ 10 WNW
9' Harbour Wingpin with 9" HP fin
Beaches: Sand bars
Waves: 2.0' @ 12.6 Storm Surf Buoy Model

Friday, July 20, 2007

Perfect Weather and Easy Living

After the rain event passed through, things have stabilized nicely. While the surf hasn't been great (maybe even not that good), at least it's not flat. It's rideable, easy and fun. We're getting better weather than SoCal, with clear and clean sunrises and fantastic beaching. It reminds me of SoCal, which lately is experiencing a bigtime morning fog pattern and windy afternoons. At the beachs here there is something for everyone: loggers, shorters and spongers. Diversity rules! And...maybe best of all, the water temp has skyrocketed in the last week from the mid-50's to edging into the early and mid-60's. Life is good! I took the Harbour 19 out again and had great fun tip riding and kicking out standing island pull out style. The Junior Guards were working hard rescuing each other, laughing and having fun. What a great program. They're off to Santa Barbara for the regionals next week. Good luck all!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Rain In July?

Unusual and rare weather spun in on the wake of a low pressure trough that dropped record rain fall on San Francisco and San Jose today. It wasn't much really but enough to wet the roadways and add new ink to the record books (in SF kept since 1849). The beach ran the gamut of high rain clouds morphing into dense fog burning off to blues skies and white, billowy cumulus. Wind was non-existent to light from the west-south-west. Loggers got plenty of small insiders, and the shortboarders even got some too. Another delectable day on the Bay, even with the rain.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Long Noserides on Freighter Wakes

At least it seemed that way to me. I grabbed the Harbour 19 (note the famous "root beer" fin sticking out of the board bag) and headed to the local beach break. Usually by 10:30 or so the wind is up and the white caps prolific, but today it wasn't white caps. The waves were small, about thigh high and arrived in groups of two or three about ten feet apart. Thus giving the impression that somewhere out in the Bay a group of crazed freighter captains were playing chicken with each other's big boats, sending multiple wake-waves shoreward. Fairly regularly though either the first wave or a solo wave would appear and offer a long noseride into the shallows. I found a peak away from the crowd and surfed it by myself for over an hour. Easily 25 waves ridden in the warm delicious sunshine. It just goes to show ya that the surf doesn't have to be pumping for it to be fun. (Especially when it's flat everywhere else!)

July 16, 2007 (M)

In: 1045

1st Wave: 1048

Out: 1150

Wave count: 25+



Wx: Warm, sunny and clear

Tide: Rising (2.1' to 3.7')

Wind: Light from the northwest

Sea Surface: Slightly bumpy

Buoy: NWS

0900: 2.6 @ 9.1 W

1000: 3.0 @ 9.1 WNW

1100: 2.6 @ 9.1 WNW

1200: 3.0 @ 9.1 WNW

9' 10" Harbour 19 with 10" fin

Beaches: Sand bars

Waves: 1.3' @ 12.6 Storm Surf Buoy Model


Things have slowed here considerably. Cotton candy fog burning off early. Small waves for riding. Sunny, warm time NorCal summer days. Waiting for the next south swell, hoping for some local wind swell. Making do without much. Learning, preparing, Qigong, T'ai Chi, the Scriptures, a few good books. (My theory on cotton candy fog: shallow marine layer produces cotton candy fog, misty, "pea soup," burns off quickly. Deep and thick marine layers yield higher overcast with staying power that leaks into the inland valleys and cools thing off everywhere...winter-like summer's in NorCal when the layer is deep.)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Of Nose Riders, Nature, Grace & Glory-Part II

Not to be outdone by their nose prancing brother and sister, the rest of the family made good use of the playground. Did we remember to give thanks for this awesome gift? To live our lives in wet and focused daily baptisms?

i thank You God for most this amazing

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

-- E.E. Cummings

Of Nose Riders, Nature, Grace & Glory

Friday the 13th turned out to be a lucky day for today's early morning riders. Graced by a clear and clean windless sunrise, nature reveled in her glory serving unmottled waves to the blessed few. Nose riders Adam and Eve played and danced in this created day, putting on a show for me and my camera that made me feel like I was surfing.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Subtropo Air Mass Moves Through-Small Wind Swell

Subtropical moisture moving through the district (created some light precipitation and a couple random lighting strikes inland) set the climatic conditions for morning gray glass and some fun little walls and pockets. I paddled out on my 9' Harbour Wingpin much to my delight at getting to know this board again as it has been a while. The rounded pin with small bumps in combo with the high performance 9" Harbour HP fin makes this single fin surfboard fast and loose, a true high performance longboard. Perfect for this morning's small beach break peelers. The warm almost caressing tropical air manifested itself immediately and was in direct contrast to the still cold ocean water. Wind was exceedingly light from the northwest, a whisper if you will, that did not disturb the surface of the sea. It was sheet glass, gray sheet glass reflecting the high, tightly packed cumulus. Two people out when I entered the water with peaks and waves aplenty. When they got out I surfed for a half hour by myself, just soaking in the morning's surfing meditation. Usually I count the number of waves I catch but this morning it was TNC (too numerous to count). A real treat!

July 11, 2007 (W)
In: 0814
1st Wave: 0815
Out: 0945
Wave count: TNC
Wx: High subtropical cumulus
Tide: Rising (3.1' to 3.7') Falling
Wind: Very light from the northwest
Sea Surface: Glassy
Buoy: NWS
0800: 3.6 @ 9.1 WNW
0900: 3.6 @ 9.1 WNW
1000: 3.3 @ 9.1 WNW
1100: 3.6 @ 9.1 WNW
9' Harbour Wingpin with 9" HP fin
Beaches: Sand bars
Waves: 2.0' @ 12.4 Storm Surf Buoy Model
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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Southerly Flow

One of the very last south swell impulses registered on the buoy at 9AM yesterday. Now it's all local wind swell. No use cracking it to beat the wind because the southerly flow that's in place is generated by large areas of low and high pressure ridging along the CA coast. This is forecast to stay in place for a few more days. Cold temps. Water is still pretty cold, not yet consistently past the 55 degree mark at the buoy. Surfed the quad and got a bunch of take-offs and mostly close outs. Some faces though and a couple racy walls at the end which made me glad. Not crowded, mostly longboarders with only two other shortboarders out. The kids were sleeping in.

July 9, 2007 (M)

In: 0825

1st Wave: 0828

Out: 1000

Wave count: 10+



Wx: Overcast, cold summer pattern

Tide: Outgoing (3.0' to 2.64')

Wind: Moderate from the south-southeast

Sea Surface: Light wind chop & textured, waves crumbly

Buoy: NWS

0800: 4.6 @ 10. NW

0900: 4.6 @ 13.8 S (Last register)

1000: 4.9 @ 8.3 NW

1100: 4.9 @ 9.1 NW

Quad Fish - Fins:Future Scimitar 451 (F) 375 Pivot (R)

T8: Sand bars

Waves: 3.0' @ 13.8 Storm Surf Buoy Model

Friday, July 6, 2007

On the Bench

Windswell diminishing but still producing. Sat out today with chores and post dental extraction rehab. Way into the typical summer pattern. Let's hear it for windswell without it we'd be nowhere.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Nice Surprise NW Wind Swell

As the south faded the WNW and NW wind swell took over. Nice size but a lot of peak movement and everything backed down a bit as the incoming tide passed the two foot mark. As one of the local longboarders chided, "I can't find the right spot and when I do someone else is there!" No pics from today. Had to get out and speed directly to the dentist for a tooth extraction. Friggin' bitchin'!

July 5, 2007 (W)

In: 1035

1st Wave: 1038

Out: 1255

Wave count: 16



Wx: Overcast, typical summer pattern

Tide: Incoming (.79' to 3.1')

Wind: Light from the northwest

Sea Surface: Light texture

Buoy: NWS

1000: 9.2 @ 12.1 WNW

1100: 8.9 @ 10 WNW

1200: 8.2 @ 11.4 NW

1300: 7.9 @ 10 NW

Freeline 7'6" Shlong (rounded pin)

Populars: Rock reef

Waves: 4.7' @ 11.1 Storm Surf Buoy Model

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy Fourth of July?

No doubt there are a lot of people having a very happy and mellow (and for some, lubricated) holiday. For others, not so fortunate, not so blessed.

More than one wise person has told us that our nation, mightiest in the history of the world, will never fall from without, we will be taken down from within, by our own doing, our own neglectful compliance with ignorance and inattention. Never has our nation been more susceptible to falling than it is now.

Our society's most powerful and trusted political leaders have betrayed us time and again. Iraq, Plamegate, the Patriot Act, revocation of habeas corpus, politicizing the Department of Justice and the Constitution of the United States of America. Who stands up for what is right, for democracy for the freedom to protest vs. who stands with the money?

My heart today is with all Americans and especially with those serving overseas. My hope is that a change is coming, a change that will restore the democracy that has made this nation the envy of the world.