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

Friday, August 31, 2007

Hawaii - Days Nine, Ten and Eleven

August 29, 2007 - Wednesday

Snorkeled with M and G in the AM and toured the “Passages” area and out the “Back Door.” Saw a tremendous number of fish as that part of the reef is full of holes, nooks and crannies. Two large hono emerged out of one of the holes surprising me. G saw a huge Morey that he swam over. After our snork it rained on us and as we were done for the day we headed back to South Shore.

Surf was indeed up today but nothing like I was hoping for. Waves were in the two to six foot range. Surfed for three hours straight, starting out at Paradise where it was inconsistent (normal for there) but fun until a boatload of surfers showed up. I couldn’t believe that these guys paid for a boat to take them where everyone else paddles to. Anyway they made the place too crowded for conditions so I paddled over to

Threes which was a good move anyway. On my way over a guy got nicely covered on one of the ripping rights.

It was pretty crowded there too but at least there were six to eight wave sets on a consistent basis. Lot’s of weaseling going on though. I got about 20 waves at Threes and of the ten really good waves I got, five had people taking off in front of me. No big deal though, the whole vibe is still mellow…besides who’s gonna beef with a local? Not me.

Five to six wave sets were still rolling through at Publics, Pops and Threes into the evening. With the full moon folks are paddling in and out of the water and surfing in the dark, by moonlight.

Waikiki has so many tourists and people surfing who are there for only a few days that I haven’t really run into an “localism” which is rampant in Santa Cruz. It is much nicer surfing in a crowd at Waikiki than in the Cruz. It isn’t difficult to strike up a conversation and talk story with one of the local surfers. So far everyone is friendly.

The waves are supposed to stick around until we leave (two back-to-back south swells running through late Sunday) so I’ll probably maximize that as much as possible. So far the body is holding up OK. Lots of stretching goin’ on. Man, it’s going to be hard to leave.

August 30, 2007 - Thursday

M and I were both “tired” this morning so we skipped Haunama and slept in. I did qigong and some stretching before eating a light breakfast and paddling out to Paradise at 9:30A. I kept seeing nice sets with no one out. Picked up two nice waves right away. In the next hour there were two sets and I got one wave each set. And that was it. I waited 20 minutes in warm tropical water with a billion dollar view of Waikiki before paddling over to Threes. Again, (like yesterday) another good move.

Threes was a little smaller today and less crowded. It was, however, very consistent. I picked up too many waves to count and surfed for another two hours. My shoulders and neck are tired but I’m a very happy camper. Lots of good waves in warm tropical water. What a great vacation!

The swell has dropped a little today (as forecast) but waves continue to roll in to all the places. From my condo I can probably see at least a dozen different spots, with guys out at each spot. I used to think the long paddles to the surf spots were tedious but I don’t anymore. You may feel like you’re out in the middle of the ocean but the waves break on a reef that acts just like the shore. After a while you don’t feel like you’re way out there, and it’s amazing to be surrounded by so much beautiful ocean. And Waikiki isn’t like Ehukai in winter. Although not covered with sand, the exposed reefs are relatively deep. I haven’t bounced off one yet.

Got treated to a pod of spinner dolphins that put on a regular show for us. For the grand finale they swam in to within 50 yards of everyone in the line-up, cavorting and playing and acting joyous.

August 31, 2007 - Friday

I gotta admit that this swell (these last two swells I should say) aren’t that bad. In my mind I guess I was seeing “high surf advisory” six to eight foot mackers marching into Paradise offering up lazy overhead takeoffs into long, loping walls groomed by the ever present offshore trade winds. While it didn’t happen exactly that way, the waves have been consistent, well shaped, clean and most of all…fun.

Paddled out to Threes this morning for another three hour surf (is that why it’s called Threes? Hah-hah…) Surf again was three to six and somewhat inconsistent but fun with lots of rides nevertheless. Always meeting nice people in the line-up. Met a 60 year old woman today who has lived in the Isalnds for 15 years. Former champion paddler and Makaha resident who moved to town after two good friends (Rell Sunn being one) passed away from cancer. She surfed pretty well for an “old lady.” I enjoyed the fact that there were two 60-year-olds “kids” out…me and her. She said that in the Islands being 60 and still surfing isn’t unusual. Sounds good to me

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hawaii - Day Eight

August 28, 2007

Slept in until 5:30A this morning because Haunama is closed on Tuesdays. I was hoping for the south to have filled in last night as forecast but…no deal. Woke up at midnight to view the lunar eclipse…that was no big deal, the moon just looked red, like the sun looks during a big, smoky wildland fire. This morning though the moon on the ocean was beautiful. That was my view during my qigong practice.

Took a walk with the Missus down to the aquarium and natatorium…soft, warm morning, light offshores…perfect. Small background swell, the south hasn’t arrived. Rented “The Door” for an hour and enjoyed paddling and getting better at SUPing. Didn’t fall once but jumped off to cool down, weather perfect.

We all spent a couple hours at the aquarium which was well worth it. Thought we would be there an hour and spent two and a half. Great displays.

The boyz and M went for sushi, I went to Shorebird for salad bar. M joined me and we had a couple beers and took a nice walk down to the Hilton after…reminisced a bit about our previous stay there.

Honolulu NOAA wx calling for a high surf advisory tomorrow…very positive report.

Hawaii - Days Six and Seven

August 26, 2007

As per the forecast the surf was much smaller this morning. Interestingly, there seems to be less people in the water than the weekdays early in the AM. Ten out at Kaisers, 12 at Pops, four at Three’s and the usual 20 or more at Canoe’s. We’re off to snorkel at Haunama with Gabe who arrived yesterday.

Took a different route to and from Haunama around Diamond Head. Lot’s of people surfing overhead waves in pretty crowded conditions. Access to the beach was down a steep switchback trail from a nice parking/overlook area. Plenty of parking on Diamond Head Drive too. Didn’t get the names of any of the spots but they could be Wenches, Suicides and Cliffs. Wind was up early, around 0930 making the waves crumbly. Lot’s of whitecaps outside and near shore.

Took a “truckers day” today. Eat ‘til I’m sleepy, sleep ‘til I’m hungry.

August 27, 2007

Waves were by far the smallest today of any day so far. So instead of surfing first thing, I went to Haunama with M. We snorked the far end of the bay, a place we hadn’t been so far. On her way out to the reef a four foot moray swam right in front of M…I missed it as I was ahead of her. We found two very good caves full of fish we hadn’t seen yet.

D took the boys for a helicopter ride (he had two spaces available) and they dug it…who wouldn’t? Meanwhile I surfed for an hour but it was pretty windy. Got eight waves in bumpy conditions. But it is such a pleasure just being out there I have zero, nada, zip zilch, no complaints.

The lunar eclipse is tonight about 11P. This morning the moon was full and bright, casting a carpet of light across the ocean from Makaha.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Hawaii - Day Five

August 25, 2007

M was up for snorkeling so we motored to Haunama arriving at 0655 (barely made the freebie). No wind, calm clear waters. Spotted another moray eel and numerous trumpet fish, coronet fish, wrasses, tangs, etc. etc. One Christmas wrasse practically swam into my mask and then hovered around all around me. Beautiful fish.

Had to do some food shopping so didn’t get back until late. South wind blowing side shore when I paddled out at 1030A. Got seven waves at Three’s before paddling over to Paradise for another five or six. Surfed for an hour before it got too bumpy. Saw the first eight wave set of the vacation. Wave forecasters are calling for a swell next Tuesday into the weekend. Waves are consistently waist to head high. Haven’t seen it smaller than that yet. There can be long, long lulls to complete stoppage. Then it will start up again for an hour, etc. etc. Waves are gentle and fun to ride. A real swell will pack more of a punch.

Here’s Caldwell’s forecast for the weekend and into next week.

DETAILED...Mid Friday on southern shores has small to moderate breakers from 175-195 degrees. The kilo nalu and Lanai wave sensors show an increase over the past day. The source is most likely angular spreading from a swell train mostly missing Hawaii to the east, as judged by comparisons of the long period energy among the southern buoys, with 51004 being highest. Based on persistence, this episode should hold into Saturday with a slow downward trend, back to summer background small levels on Sunday.

The first storm had a favorable track relative to Hawaii, with a captured fetch of 40-45 knot winds setting up this past Monday into Wednesday as the system tracked from S to E of New Zealand to about 3800 nm away from Hawaii. Long period forerunners from this episode are expected on Monday, making for infrequent moderate breakers from 190-200 degrees. The episode should slowly build to near advisory levels on Tuesday, with the episode peaking on Wednesday in the low-end high surf category from 180-200 degrees.

Hawaii - Days Three and Four

August 23, 2007

Up at 4:30A a lot less sore than yesterday. Qigong routine then off to Haunama with Mariposa for our morning snorkel. Surf was still small with the dawn patrol heading out or already in the water. Hot Tip: Arrive at Haunama Bay before 7AM and get in for free. You also don’t pay for parking and don’t have to see the video. Saw a moray eel which are usually hard to find unless you know which hole to look in. We lucked out. Saw the usual array of wrasses, tangs, triggerfish…even a coronet fish (like a barracuda without teeth).

Got back to the condo 9A and the surf had jumped up to three to four feet. Ate breakfast, diddled around, went surfing. Got into the water around noon and surfed for two and a half hours at Paradise and Three’s. Surf had dropped and become inconsistent. Caught about 12 waves in total. Hard not to have a good time in warm water and fun waves. Pops and Kaisers had good waves and big crowds.

August 24, 2007

Up at 4:40 and did qigong waiting for M to snorkel which she decided that she didn’t want to do in favor of sleeping in. Cool, did my yoga routine. I’ve noticed that the waves seem to pick up between 8 and 9A. Paddled out at 0930 and surfed for an hour an a half in the best waves at Paradise yet. Caught over 20 waves.

I love the tropics ‘cause you never know what it’s going to do. Wind came up when I was paddling out…blowing sideshore. Drag. Then it started raining and the surf got consistent and really fun. Caught five waves in about eight minutes…three guys out. No secrets in Waikiki though. The most crowded it got was about ten people which was empty compared to Queens, Canoes and Pops. All friendly, all having fun. Out of the water at 11:30A, looking forward to tomorrow, tired and surfed out for the day.

Hokulea made an appearance for the Oceanfest fundraiser. Contest and festivities are scheduled to finish up on Saturday and Sunday.

Got a hot tip on a free internet connection. Will try it tomorrow.

Hawaii - Day Two

August 22, 2007

Woke up at 4AM (7PDT). Did my qigong routine and checked it when it got light enough…a dawn patrol in the water. Surf much smaller this morning (I was hoping for a swell…oh well, I’ll have to wait.) So instead the consolation prize is to go snorkeling with Mariposa and Joel to Haunama. Gotta get there early (before 9AM) or you can’t get a parking space or snorkel in uncrowded water. Arrived 7:15A (a little late actually, had a little trouble getting the number two son up and at ‘em). Snorked until 9:30 and did a humongous shopping spree at Foodland in Hawaii Kai.

Surf still small in the afternoon so I rented a SUP at the beach shack in front of the condos. The guy said it was a little small, ten foot, but wide. Cool…wide is good. The paddle was too tall for me but, whatever…I wasn’t expecting to be on my feet very much anyway as everything I’ve read and researched says that it’s hard to get the hang of it right away. I put it in the water, placed the paddle in the center of the board parallel with the rails, hopped on and knee paddled to get up some speed. I popped up to my feet grabbing the paddle as I got up and off I went. To my unfettered surprise it wasn’t that hard to keep my balance. Harder to get used to paddling in a straight line, that wasn’t happening.

A tip I picked up from a Todd Bradley news story was to keep my eye on the horizon, not on my feet. Unbelievably, that works! I was on my feet and paddling for a long time before I finally fell off, and that was due to a following sea that I didn’t see coming. The sudden surge forward made me fall of backward.

Later one of the beach shacks workers told me they call the SUP I rented “The Door.” This boards real dimensions are 8’10” X 30” X 3 ¾”. The nose is as square as the tail. I learned to SUP on a shortboard! Paddling a ten footer will seem like paddling an aircraft carrier at this rate.

I’ve always heard that SUP’s work your core muscles pretty good and I can confirm that. You know you’re in for some pain when your muscles are sore twenty minutes after your workout. Wow! Shoulders, neck, forearms, hands, buttocks, hamstrings, quads, upper-mid-lower back…all sore. I did a good stretch routine, ate dinner and lost consciousness shortly thereafter. All in all, very cool. When the surf is small I’ll SUP.


August 21, 2007

Touched down right on time after a quiet and uneventful flight. The usual inconveniences with baggage claim and the rental car but nothing out of the ordinary. My rental board was delivered right on time, great service. My board locker was ready; the condo is delivering great service…had our room ready two hours early and we checked in.

Pretty much unpacked and checked the surf. At first it looked flat so I diddled around for about a half-hour and looked again. Three guys out and some lines showing. Had to get wet. Paddled out to Paradise and got five nice rides in an hour. Getting reacquainted with the offshores and a new longboard. Surf is in the two to three foot range with right and lefts. Took about a half hour to get the line-up and the take-off. Nose down, take off late and let the wind do the rest.

About 4PM the place started to fill up with after-work locals. It got too crowded for conditions and I paddled in (long paddle), satisfied and stoked to be surfing in Hawaii on a rental board that worked well and in warm water that felt good. Looking forward to tomorrow.

No in-room isp. Will have to make other arrangements.

Monday, August 20, 2007


Checked the beaches this morning. It looks like my post from the 18th. There is a decent size south in the water but because of shadowing or angle it's not showing anywhere that I can see. I suppose there's some secret spot somewhere in NorCal that is just going off se. Wind swell forecast to pick up this week. Right now there's a big low pressure area drifting in from the southwest deserts. Temps are up, will be hot today.

Forecast calls for some consistent small to moderate south swell on Oahu's south shore during my entire stay. YeeHaaw! It won't be huge but it could be just right!

Malama pono.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Very Near Shore Wind Swell

Even though the north-south gradient is weakening today, it blew enough yesterday to create some very near shore wind swell. About 9A the west-east gradient steepened and now we're getting a light but steady drumbeat of fairly chilly onshore wind under clear skies and a bright sun.

Lots of soft-tops and sprawlers in the water this morning all up and down the beach, stretched out like a dog lying in the morning sun. Couple good waves here and there. Especially like the shot of the SUP-er groveling, bareback and all in the 57 degree sea water. I thought he might be kind of warm until I saw him hop off, get wet, paddle back out and stand there in the not at all warm onshore breeze.

Here's the thing, I'd like to try a SUP, but in the warm know, like Hawaii. I can't find a SUP rental or teacher in Waikiki, but there is one in Santa Cruz. Go figure.

The land of aloha beckons like a mirage in the desert.

Gotta Go To Hawaii

Without a moment's hesitation I have selflessly agreed to chaperon my family on a trip to Waikiki, on the island paradise of Oahu. My main purpose (one to which I am uniquely suited) is to ensure that my aging mother-in-law does not trip over any errantly placed mai-tai umbrellas, and does not encounter a random tropical breeze that could displace her from her tender balance. Someone had to do it, it might as well be me! (And...there is even a small swell forecast to arrive the day after I deplane...Yowzahhh!)

So, beginning next week journaling will be from my island paradise, where by picture and mesmerizing wordsmithery I will recreate my sessions and mental aberrations from Publics, Queens, Threes and Fours and who knows, maybe even Makaha. And to top it off, concurrently with our trip are several events including Duke's Oceanfest, The World Tandem Surfing Championship and the first ever ASP sanctioned Roxy Jam Women's Longboard Championship. All this will inevitably ensure that being surrounded by a gaggle of world class wahines, I will be without doubt, the biggest kook in the water...well maybe not, there's all those tourists from Iowa after all.

Meanwhile surf here has been abysmally least in my neck of the woods. (Weather's been kill though with crisp, clean and clear mornings and warm, breezy afternoons that seamlessly fade into mellow evenings on the veranda.) Posted image here is of town surf at about about 6:30AM on the 15th, 16th, 17th and today. Just paste that same picture into each day for the last week and into the foreseeable future. Windswell is supposed to pick up tomorrow into next week. I think the main problem here is lack of sandbars. The beaches are the only game in town and for some reason this summer there just aren't very many sandbars producing decent walls. SoCal's been looking at least doable with zippers breaking off the jetties in Newport and an assortment of fun looking waves at Huntington and environs. Pray for surf, pray for peace.

Aloha, mahalo, respect and shaka bro!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Great Summer for Beginners

While the rest of us have been bummed, , depressed, frustrated, pissed, starved, skating, running, and participating in all sorts of alternative behaviors, I've got to admit this has been a great summer for neophytes. The surf has been so small, and so gentle that just about anyone can buy some lessons and venture out into the void for a fun packed frolic, filled with socializing and the mandatory hooting that is a hallmark of all surf schools. Cowell's, the default surf school line-up cum parking lot has been so flat that even the surf schools can't meet there. Consequently they are ubiquitous at the beach breaks. Whatever happened to learning how to surf on your own...with maybe one other buddy? Not happening I guess, it's always a case of bring your own crowd.

Well, so be it...another change that modern times and the incorporation/commercialization of surfing has wrought. Yeah, yeah I know...if it wasn't for the masses we wouldn't have tri-fins and super-flex wetsuits. Single fins and two piece suits weren't really all that bad though!

I need to save up for a SUP...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Temps Warm, Surf Chills

Sponsler's forecast pretty much says it all for the next little while.

Over the South Pacific, the southern branch of the jetstream is expected to continues flowing flat over the Ross Ice Shelf, eliminating potential for storm development at the oceans surface. The models suggest only one small hint of a break in that pattern perhaps next weekend possibly allowing low pressure to form in the Southeast Pacific generating 45 kts winds and 27 ft seas aimed indirectly towards California, but odds low. In the North Pacific high pressure to remain north of Hawaii and too far west of California to have any real windswell generation potential until late in the workweek, possibly setting up small windswell for the weekend. Until then northerly fetch to be limited to the Pt Conception area, but no further north. And theoretically low pressure to form in the Gulf of Alaska next weekend too, but odds are very low. In short, a very quiet pattern to remain in effect for at least the next week.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Late, Cold, Winter's Comin'

I've been trying to post this August 9, 2007 report since, well, August 9th. Better late than never I guess.

We got some weak pulse off the south swell that was in the water. Surfed the 9' Harbour in small beach break that wasn't much but at least it was wet, good exercise and surfing is always fun...the funnest form of exercise there is I think. There were four out at two peaks when I suited up and by the time I got down to the beach all four were walking up the trail. So I got my pick of the peaks. I surfed the one further down and got 20 waves in an hour fifteen. Some surprising walls off some surprising A-frame glassy peaks. One other shorter came out later and surfed the other peak. Life was good...he got many waves too.

A large low pressure trough has parked itself over Central and Northern Cali for about the last week or so, lowering temps and making the inversion layer the king of the mountain. Last night it was 47 degrees. This morning when I woke up it was 48 degrees. To compare, in San Diego at the same time this morning it was 68 degrees. Every year in August that I can remember we've gotten this "winter preview." Just mother nature letting us know that winter is really on it's way.

Many are complaining that this has been the worst summer and maybe even year for surf in NorCal in years. That might be true. I've looked through my journal and gleaned the data for the last few years. Some surprising results...but that's for another post.
August 9, 2007 (Th)
In: 1000
1st Wave: 1005
Out: 1115
Wave count: 20
Wx: Marine layer overcast
Tide: Falling (4' to 3.8')
Wind: None to light onshore
Sea Surface: Glassy to light texture
Buoy: NWS
0900: 3 @ 14.3 S
1000: 3 @ 14.3 S
1100: 3.3 @ 13.8 S
1200: 3.3 @ 13.8 SSW
9' Harbour Wingpin with 9" HP fin
Beaches: Sand bars
Waves: 2' @ 16.3 Storm Surf Buoy Model