Friday, September 28, 2007
I found out that I could buy a rubberized paddle grip from Evan's most excellent SUP website. I ordered the grip from the C4 website after working with Kellie at C4 who helped me cut shipping costs in half. (Mahalo Kellie!) The grip arrived via USPS a couple days later.
Both Evan and the C4 website provided good info on the grip and how to install it. C4's website has a very good video of Todd installing and talking his way through the application. I watched Todd's video a couple times just to make sure I had it down. I didn't want to screw up the install which would be easy to do with something sticky like the adhesive on the back of the grip. Everything went smooth which is a testament to the instructions not the installer (yours truly).
RECOMMENDATION: I have one important thing to recommend re location of the grip on your paddle. Prior to installing the grip I made sure that it would be located in the right place on the paddle shaft by measuring five or six times while I was out in the water paddling. I measured by counting the black horizontal pattern lines in the fiberglass cloth that are on the shaft from handle to blade. I found that my hand placement is almost always (90% of the time) approximately 40 lines down from the paddle handle on the shaft. When measured with a tape measure this is 22 inches.
On the video I understood Todd to say that the top of the grip should be placed about 24 inches from the handle. I think that is a good "rule of thumb" and a general statement which doesn't necessarily take into account the individual paddler.
I wanted to make sure that the grip would be located so that I would always have a good amount of grip above and below my hand when placed on the paddle grip. This would take into account the 10% of the time my hand wasn't at 22 inches from the handle. I ended up installing the grip 18 1/2 inches from the paddle handle. The adhesive paddle grip itself is 12 inches long, so my grip covers from 18 1/2 to 30 1/2 inches of paddle shaft. This is just right for my hand grip which again, is at about 22 inches 90% of the time.
Finally, Todd's instructions for cutting and finishing the grip are spot on. I paid special attention to the cut as I wanted the cut end to overlap like a bevel cut over the bitter end of my starting point. Following Todd's instructions will make this happen. In order to ensure that the grip would go on evenly I marked the grip with a light pencil mark at each end uniformly above the C4 logos, and also marked the paddle shaft with a light "dot" of "Wite Out" correction fluid so I would have mutual landmarks to line up. The Wite Out is easily scraped off with the edge of your fingernail.
I finished the rough edge overlap by sanding lightly with 60 grit sandpaper as per Todd's instructions. It's important that the seam lay down tight to the paddle shaft so it won't catch an edge in the future and begin to peel back or delaminate. I installed the grip yesterday and SUPed this morning. The placement is perfect and the grip is fantastic.
The difference between having and not having the grip is substantial. No more slippery paddle shaft; instant orientation to hand placement on the shaft; a comfortable sure feel to the paddle shaft and a nice bright yellow color which will be easier to spot when I lose my paddle one day (I hope that never happens though!).
As the NWS forecasters are so fond of saying, "what a difference a day makes!" Just looking at the pics tells the story.
I SUP paddled out in the inky gray pre-dawn. I even lingered on the beach, adding a few extra stretches, as I waited for more light to illuminate my way. I pulled into GW's about 0655 and hooked up with a small line. The kelp was ferocious, ending my first three rides in full body dunkings. The fourth wave was bigger so I escaped the grasping stalks by taking the high line, ending up well inside for a nice long ride. Surfed by myself for half an hour before a lay down paddler joined me.
The south is pretty much gone, replaced by a westerly pulse of some sort. Although the numbers look good on the buoy, there were really no sets of waves, no wave trains. Just loners. In just under an hour I managed to snag ten waves so I was happy. Just being out on the SUP is good exercise, good training and good fun. Catching waves is the icing on the cake.
September 28, 2007 (F)
1st Wave: 0655
Wave count: 10
Wx: High overcast, complete cloud cover with some light mist.
Tide: Rising (1.7' to 2.8')
Wind: Light onshore
Sea Surface: Glassy
0600: 3.6 @ 16 WNW
0700: 3.6 @ 16 WNW
0800: 3.9 @ 16 WNW
0900: 3.9 @ 16 WNW
10'4" Angulo SUP
Reefs: Rock and sand
Waves: 3' @ 14.9 (approx. ave.) Storm Surf Buoy Model
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Both the weather and the wave action cooled today as a low pressure trough drifted across Norcal and the south swell continued to decline. Although the early morning paddle out was almost a carbon copy of the last three days, by afternoon temps had dropped precipitously. The end to a short but nice run of "Indian Summer."
Surf was fun though, with light offshores and fun low tide peelers. I was in the water pre-sunrise and paddled into my first wave at 0700. I had the place to myself for 40 minutes, bagging 12 waves before anyone joined me. I caught eight more before calling it a morning and paddling back to the pier where I launched.
The marine layer is back and tomorrow promises to be overcast and chilly. So long gorgeous sunrises and gentle warm offshore breezes.
September 27, 2007 (Th)
1st Wave: 0700
Wave count: 20
Wx: Clear and cloudless
Tide: Rising (1.7' to 3.8')
Wind: Light offshore
Sea Surface: Glassy to light texture
0600: 4.3 @ 14.8 SSW
0700: 3.9 @ 11.4 WNW
0800: 3.9 @ 11.4 WNW
0900: 3.9 @ 11.4 NW
10'4" Angulo SUP
Reefs: Rock and sand
Waves: 3' @ 12.5 (approx. ave.) Storm Surf Buoy Model
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
I stretched and warmed up in the barely light pre-dawn. Paddled out with enough light to dodge the kelp beds which were in relief due to the lower tide. Pulled over to GW's when it was almost bright enough to see and stroked into my first of twelve for the morning. Kelp forest did it's best to knock me off, succeeding several times. A couple nice sets came through. Three footers at most but with enough room to take the high line and stay out of the kelp stalks. (They try to rip the paddle out of your hands too.) I got a couple nice zippers, very fast with steep sections. The Angulo found the track and took off at high speed. Sweet! Andy and a fellow Angulonian went out as I was coming in. Pics of them. Warm offshore winds and temps today. Wx just about as good as it gets.
September 26, 2007 (W)
1st Wave: 0637
Wave count: 12
Wx: Clear and cloudless
Tide: Rising (1.5' to 3.2')
Wind: Light to slightly moderate offshore
Sea Surface: Glassy to light texture
0600: 5.6 @ 14.8 S
0700: 5.2 @ 14.8 S
0800: 5.2 @ 8.3 NW
0900: 4.9 @ 14.8 S
10'4" Angulo SUP
Reefs: Rock and sand
Waves: 3' @ 14.6 (approx. ave.) Storm Surf Buoy Model
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Monday and Tuesday September 24 and 25
Monday was tiny. Still, it was good SUP practice and I caught a number of insiders. It was a fun session. Tuesday was a different story.
The south picked up in size and period. Combined with the early morning low tide OMO produced some fun sets, long walls and fast pockets. I'm learning how to set the rail on the Angulo for speed and trim. It fires through fast, steep sections and stays right in the pocket. If the section collapses, paddle! Talk about having a built in outboard motor! Picked up 18 waves in a hour, got caught inside once (good practice) and completely lost my balance and fell off while making a quick turn on take off. (Missed two really good waves.) FYI, it's really hard to swim fast while holding an 81" long SUP paddle.
What me worry, I'm having a blast!
September 25, 2007 (Tu)
1st Wave: 0647
Wave count: 18
Wx: Clear and cloudless
Tide: Rising (2.1' to 3.8')
Wind: None to light offshore
Sea Surface: Glassy to light texture
0600: 5.6 @ 10 NW
0700: 5.9 @ 16 S
0800: 6.2 @ 10 WNW
0900: 5.6 @ 16 S
10'4" Angulo SUP
Reefs: Rock and sand
Waves: 3' @ 15.5 (approx. ave.) Storm Surf Buoy Model
Sunday, September 23, 2007
As much as I hate to admit it, I can no longer live in denial. Winter's comin'. Not that I mind completely, it's just been such a great summer I don't want to let it go.
While we haven't had many (any really) epic swells, we've had a couple good ones. I've gotten my fair share of fun ones. I got to spend two weeks on Oahu's South Shore during the Duke Fest, surfing every day in 80 degree water. I got my first introduction to stand up paddleboards and now I'm into it big time. I'm healthier because SUPing seems to be so good for strengthening the core muscles and supporting my spine which the arthritis and the injuries have so relentlessly been chipping away at. I'm progressing in the practice of Qi Gong and looking forward to evolving into practicing T'ai Ch'i. Almost all my friends and family are doing well and healthy...they are more than surviving, they are living life. God has blessed me and my family abundantly.
So Mother Nature bring it on. We await your coming (and that first tasty winter northern hemi swell) in Glory! Hallelujah!
Friday, September 21, 2007
I set my alarm clock 15 minutes earlier so I can get in for the sunrises earlier. It's worth it! Weather is changing a bit with showers slated to fall over the next couple days. Another south is forecast to come ashore today while the wind swell slackens. The waves have been disappointing here in town. While the buoy is putting up good numbers it's just not translating into good waves. Surf is small and inconsistent. Therefore the swell is not angled efficiently for our little niche on the continent.
No matter...SUP to the rescue. SUP surfers always have focus, are always engaged and always have something to do, even if it's just to stand there and balance! Once again I paddled over from the pier...ten minutes to Sarge's, and another five to GW's. Surfed there for an hour and a half and caught quite a few really, really small, really small and small waves. I caught waves I never would have bothered with on a longboard because they would have been too small. But on a SUP they're really fun! Met Richard who was on a 10'8" Angulo and like me just learning how to surf the board.
The pelicans and cormorants were massing again this morning and I was able to get a pic of them for posting that still does not do justice to the total amount of birds present. Between the two species there were two to four hundred birds in the water today.
Paddling back to the pier the tide was higher and I was getting some interesting backwash off 3 Palm Point and Apartment Point. Makes paddling all the more interesting.
I bought a C4 paddle grip online which they agreed to ship USPS for about half the price their website quoted. Thanks to Kellie at C4Waterman for working with me on this. I figure the grip will be good for two functions. 1) Visibility should I lose my paddle which I know will happen one of these days...especially in bigger surf. 2) The Kialoa carbon fiber paddle shaft can get pretty slippery when it and my hands are wet. The grip pad should allow me to get and keep my grip where I want it without slipping off and losing a stroke or two. This can be fairly critical when catching waves, or when trying to get back outside fast before being caught inside.
Today was my third day in a row on the SUP and I'm feeling stronger and less sore. If I were to do this on a lie down surfboard my back and neck would be hurting big time. So far SUPing is an incredible core workout that is actually good for my back. I hope it stays that way.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Yesterday and today's sunrises were opposite. Wednesday morning was cloudy. The sky looked black and blue, bruised as low pressure moved across Norcal bringing light showers north of the Bay area. Today was clear, crisp and cold. Images depict today's look, before and after SUP session/surf/workout.
Met Mike out in the water. His brother John has a stand up paddleboard blog called Stand Up Paddle Surfing. We surfed Sarge's and GW's in the clean morning air. Not much in the way of waves but we both got some good ones before we paddled in. He and John do a SUP Baja trip that sounds pretty cool. Me and the wife might join them next summer.
Walking on water...hiking on the sea. Today's venture felt like my backpacking trips into the Sierras. It was sunny and cold with a steady offshore breeze keeping the flag on the end of the Cap Pier pointing out to sea. Paddling back to the pier I saw a large group of birds huddled together on the beach at Yellow House Cove. They suddenly broke into flight and I realized it was all pelicans. They circled overhead before setting down in the sea nearby. They joined another flock already floating and my guess is that there were 250 to 300 birds massed about 30 feet from me. Why they didn't all take off as I paddled by I don't know. Are they massing in preparation for the migratory flight down to Mexico? It's just another SUP perspective that you wouldn't get any other way but on a SUP.
Thank you GOD...life is so GOOD!
Monday, September 17, 2007
A nice south swell filled in over the weekend and continues to show well, if somewhat inconsistently today. Storm Surf has forecasted it to stick around for a few days this week. The weekend was pretty crowded so I stayed out and rested my back. I hit the water early with my SUP and paddled and surfed for a couple hours before trading my 10'4" paddler in for my 7'6" Freeline Shlong. I got a lot of waves and a great workout.
Learning to surf the SUP is a challenge to say the least...especially when I get tired. I've got a lot of things to work on, namely: SUP placement for catching waves; paddling speed to catch the wave; kickout or wave exit technique; surfing the extra thick board in small, small waves and turning the SUP around in a hurry (that ain't happenin' yet...). It can be frustrating to say the least. Fortunately conditions have been very good for learning. I'm staying way off to the side or surfing a break that isn't nearly as good where there is hardly anyone out except other people like me...learning how to surf or SUP. But as frustrating as it may be I am getting better.
One particularly aggravating item is that I tend to stand too far forward when I am paddling for a wave. This almost guarantees either pearling the board or having to weight back so vigorously that I lose momentum (paddling speed) and lose the wave. After about four pearls/wave loses I finally found a spot that seems to work well. Now if I can only remember to stand there, or shift back when I paddle for a wave. (Some of us just aren't that sharp!)
After SUPing I surfed Scimitar's for an hour. Waves were good but inconsistent. The background swell was providing a pretty steady dose of knee to waist high peelers and about every 50 minutes or so an eight to ten wave set of southies would roll through providing head high relief to those in the right places.
As the tide came in most of the spots tended to swamp a little; sets were somewhat warbly. Pics are leftovers at not the best spots.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Brother Firefighter Joe and my Maldives trip buddy contacted me yesterday with the news that he got a 12 foot Angulo SUP a couple weeks ago. He's using it primarily as a free diving platform (Joe is a world class free diver) from which he bags his catches of white sea bass from his "secret" locations offshore. He hasn't surfed it a lot yet but when the waves come he'll be on it.
After a busy morning yesterday I SUPed for about an hour and a half in the late afternoon, launching at Capitola Pier and heading into the wind which was blowing briskly out of the NW. There was only a light chop on the water surface so that wasn't bad but the body as sail was a new challenge. After I made my way to a spot where something like waves were breaking, I found that if I didn't constantly stay paddling into the wind then the wind would just blow me backwards...an interesting feeling. The good news was that I just absolutely hauled ass heading back...downwind.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
When Beach Boy surfing, there are Kool things and things that make you a huge KOOK! This section is dedicated to Kook & Kool!
1. You paddle out floundering to a lineup with surfers. You can barely stay standing but proceed right into or outside of the lineup. You paddle for waves while people scramble out of your way only to fall off before you can even get on the wave.... Your big board becomes an extremely dangerous projectile.... Kook alert!! KOOK!! KOOK!! KOOK!! KOOK!!
2. You can barely stay standing so you practice in an area where no one is around that you could endanger or bum out. You care about the world wide effects of SUP surfing so you paddle and surf with Aloha. Very Kool!!
3. You start to get the hang of it and want to surf better waves so you decide to surf a more popular spot. You paddle out and stand outside everyone. The sets come and you paddle in like a locomotive right thru the pack. You get waves in every set... KOOK!!
4. You start to get the hang of it and want to surf better waves so you decide to surf a more popular spot. You paddle out and check out the situation. You see waves off to the side that a lot less people go for. You catch a few of those... Since you don't want to wear out your welcome, you decide to catch only a few set waves at most. You surf with Aloha.... Kool!
5. You paddle out on an in-consistent day to a crowded spot. You stand outside everyone the whole duration of the lulls. You never sit down so you tower over others the whole time... You make sure you catch a wave from every set. KOOK!
6. You paddle out on an in-consistent day to a crowded spot. You feel like you're on stage so you stand off to the side or sit down between sets because you don't like blocking everyone's view of the beautiful ocean. You catch a couple waves then move to the inside or on to another spot or just paddle around because you figured out how to surf with Aloha... KOOL!!
7. You're pretty good and can get in and around the surf well... You surf crowded spots and catch all the waves you can. Small ones, set waves etc. Because you can surf good you get plenty waves. You're always calling people off your waves. You just can't help yourself to sit sets out so you basically take over the spot for the duration of your surf. HUGE SELFISH KOOK! HUGE SELFISH KOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!
8. You're pretty good and can get in and around the surf well... You go to a crowded spot and check out what's going on. You see some of the lesser quality waves going un-ridden and surf those. You catch a ton of waves but ones that no one really wants. You paddle out and get a few set waves but you make sure others get waves by quietly cluing them in to incoming sets. You become a quiet spotter of sorts for others to score good waves.... You always sit out a few sets. You use your high vantage point to stoke others out. KOOL!!
9. You see how cool SUP surfing is because you can paddle fast and want to get back at those greedy longboarders. You decide to get into it to take over and be the dominent surfer at any spot at any time. Do the entire surfing world a favor and don't get into it. You are the biggest KOOK!!!!!!
10. You see how cool SUP surfing is because you can do something that is a challenge, get great exercise, paddle far up the coast at will, have a blast riding waves you never thought would be fun, discover new spots, like to enjoy the comraderie of the SUP surfers around the world. KOOL!!
Note: If there are more than one of you SUP surfing, everything becomes doubled, tripled, quadrupled, etc. Avoid heavy rotations with other SUP surfers when surfing with others. Be aware of your actions and the actions of others. Be KOOL!
After spending Monday and Tuesday's sessions on long paddles getting my "sea legs," I spent two physically intense hours Wednesday learning to catch, surf and kick-out of, or exit small waves. I haven't had this much challenging physical surfing fun in a while. It is a blast!
So far, the easiest thing about SUP's is standing on one. I thought it would be harder, but it isn't. In a calm sea anyone with decent surfing and paddling skills can learn quickly how to stand and paddle on a SUP. It gets trickier when there is a swell, wind chop, wind, kelp or whitewater to manage. But learning how to balance and navigate those challenges is just a matter of practice...well, isn't it all!
Surfing is a whole 'nother thing though. First there is the view. On a conventional surfboard you are generally looking up at the wave, no matter what the size. On a SUP unless it is literally overhead you are looking down on the wave. It looks different, it's harder to judge how steep the wave is and when to stop paddling. (Rule of thumb: When in doubt, don't stop paddling. You'll only go faster.) Once you've caught the wave, surfing the SUP is really just learning how to ride another surfboard in your quiver...only one that's probably a lot longer and thicker than what you're used to riding. Important Point: The place you stand to paddle your SUP, and the place you stand to surf your SUP are way different!
Finally, kicking out or exiting the wave on your SUP is not all that easy if your goal is to stay on your feet and paddle like mad to avoid being caught inside, which it is, or should be. Because you have shifted your stance into a surfing stance (one foot in front of the other on the rear 1/3 of the board) once your ride is over you must very quickly jump back into paddling stance which is usually feet parallel slightly to the rear of SUP midpoint. This while negotiating unforeseen sea surface angles and bumps, white water and, oh yeah, the paddle.
Which brings me to paddle management. All I can say right now is that I'm no where near the point where I can use the paddle for anything that would add to my surfing ability. Once I'm riding the wave the only thing I'm concerned about paddle-wise is not getting hit by it, and not losing it (think $300 bucks or so).
Yesterday my barber told me that one of his good friends who has taken up SUP's told him to never get started. Because once he did he would never go back. That feels like it could be true.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Monday, September 10 and Tuesday, September 11
Put in at Platty's on Monday and Capitola Village on Tuesday. Conditions were perfect for a beginner. Platty's was more or less flat with a very small shore break. I knee paddled out 20 feet, hopped to my feet and paddled 7/10's of a mile to Rio Flats, then back again. Working on my "sea legs." Then I worked near shore to get the feel of rising and dropping over the waves as they broke near shore. I was in the water for about an hour and a half, and did about two miles worth of paddling.
On Tuesday I put in at the Village and paddled down to GW's, about a mile. No one was out surfing and I caught a number of very small waves that most surfers would have not even bothered with. I was practicing pulling myself into the wave with the paddle, and riding the shallow, fast breaking shoulders to get the feel of the thick 10'4" Angulo.
An additional challenge was the low tide kelp beds that would snarl the fin and paddle, making balancing more difficult...good practice. I caught five or six waves and got dunked on about four of them. The buoyant 4.25" EPS thickness wants to roll over to the outside if inside rail pressure is not maintained. Tricky, and I can't say that I did very well with it...but I'll try again tomorrow. The cool thing is...if the surf is small, SUP. There are still mini-waves to be ridden that most lay-down surfers would ignore.
My plan is to work on my flat water paddling first, getting comfortable in the zone outside the surf line. Then I move into the surf zone and catch a few. I'm getting better at transitioning from paddling into and catching the wave, to "kicking out" or exiting the wave without falling off. I'm also thinking through where to "stand" and wait for waves. It's harder to pick a place and then move quickly to the take-off zone. I'm not yet able to maneuver the SUP quickly and efficiently for the take-off.
Paddling across the flats feels like Qigong Standing Meditation. All is quiet. Sounds are natural: water falling off the paddle; sea birds working for food; seals splashing away from perceived danger; wind blowing across the ear.
What an incredible find is this SUP.
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Angulo Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) Dimensions: 10'4" X 29" X 4.25"
Kialoa Kola Stand Up Surf Paddle - 80" (My height: 5'9")
I again tested the 10'4" Angulo (An-goo-low) SUP Saturday morning at Sargent's with a crew of guys who ride Angulo's in the area. Thanks to Andy and Dave for making it possible. Conditions were nearly perfect for a SUP kook like me, i.e. good beginner's conditions. The sea surface was calm, wind very light, and there was a small and steady wind swell driving some easy rideable lines into GW's.
I split off from the group for awhile and paddled down to Redwood's to "get my sea legs" as Andy would say, and to develop some sort of comfort level with the board and paddle before rejoining the rest of the Angulonians at GW's for a go at the surf. SUP can be a solitary pleasure...standing there in the kelp beds, two hundred yards offshore, gently and quietly stroking through the ocean heading nowhere in particular. It's amazing how different the view is...one can see much further, it is a more encompassing and yet still intimate blending with the sea.
Soon enough I turned around and realized how far I had paddled. It didn't seem to me like I was moving very fast and yet I was already a good half mile from the group. So I paddled back and headed to GW's to try ("try" being the operative word) and catch a few waves.
The surf this morning was not quite as large or consistent as the waves yesterday afternoon/evening, and there were more surfers in the water but it was still relatively uncrowded for a Saturday morning. I can only imagine what the longboarders at GW's must have thought as five guys on SUPs paddled into their line-up. But all the Angulonians were very well behaved, chasing down only the waves the longboarders couldn't get to. I managed (incredibly enough) to actually paddle myself into two different little rides and that sealed the deal. I was/am hooked. As I paddled back out after my second wave I told Andy, "I'm in, send the board over to John's." Andy is the local distributor for Angulo and John Mel (Freeline Design Surf Shop) is my long time (since 1973) shaper and surf shop retailer of choice.
I paddled for about two hours, getting out of the water at 9:30 still under gray, overcast skies. I picked up my new SUP at three o'clock that afternoon. Andy had installed the deck pad at Ski Shop Santa Cruz before John stopped by to pick it up on his way to Freeline. Andy also had the Kialoa Kole paddle that I settled on and they cut it to size and glued the handle on. John warned me not to use the paddle for at least 24 hours to let the glue set. That worked for me as Sunday mornings are time intensive getting ready and prepped for church.
In addition to that my shoulders, back, legs, feet, hands and forearms were mighty sore from two days in a row of SUPing. Sunday was a recovery day for sure. But tomorrow, I'm hittin' it early for a SUP workout on my new board! Stoke...more later!
Saturday, September 8, 2007
I surfed the circuit paddling up to the Point and back down to Sergeants where I met up with Dave to try out the 10'4" Angulo SUP. I longboarded all the spots on the way up and back and got a ton of small (2'-3') waves with nice shape. After I SUPed I was passing through GW's on my way out of the water when I caught a nice one there. I ended up staying for another hour and getting some great noserider longboard waves, long makeable sections (most of them anyway) peeling well inside. The Harbour 19 was the perfect call for today.
I stubbed my toe on a piece of lifted cement at the showers and tore a nice chunk of flesh off the end of it. By the time I did wound management, bleeding control and cleaned it up it was too late to take any pics.
September 7, 2007 (F)
1st Wave: 1415
Wave count: 20+
Wx: High thin clouds, hazy sunshine
Tide: Falling/Rising (3' to 2.8' to 4.4')
Wind: Moderately steady from the NW
Sea Surface: Light wind chop
1500: 5.6 @ 10.8 NW
1600: 5.9 @ 12.9 NW
1700: 6.2 @ 12.1 NW
1800: 5.9 @ 12.9 WNW
9'10" Harbour Nineteen with 9.5" Harbour fin
Waves: 2.5' @ 13.1 (rough average) Storm Surf Buoy Model
Friday, September 7, 2007
While I was in the Islands a longtime surfer named Todd Endris became part of the food chain while surfing at a beach a few miles from where I regularly surf. Marina beach is just like my more northerly surf ground, in fact for all intents and purposes they are identical.
Fortunately for Todd he wasn't eaten, but he was badly bitten and is hospitalized while recovering. There aren't a lot of shark attacks in my area and of the eight or so that have occurred within the last fifty something years, only two have been fatals (one swimmer and one knee boarder/surfer, both in Pacific Grove). Given the extreme rarity of shark attacks it is obvious that the odds of being attacked by a Great White are astronomical but...we all think about it don't we?
I don't think there is anyone on the planet who fancies that being eaten by a wild animal would be a good way to go. And eating Todd was definitely what that shark was trying to do. Todd was hit twice. And as most shark experts will tell us the first bite was exploratory..."hmmm, is this food?" The second bite was..."yeah baby, lunch!"
While it is widely believed that August and September are the high probability months for a large shark population in this area, due primarily to the fact that the elephant seal birthing grounds are at Ano Nuevo (part of the so-called Red Triangle"), the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation doesn't set up shop in earnest until October. They do the bulk of their yearly research from October through early February. (Interestingly the two fatal shark attacks on humans both occurred in December.)
As for me I know they are out there, I don't ever really expect to see one but I am often wary or even paranoid that there could be one coming at me right now! Part of my defense mechanism for keeping myself calm and in the water are to create myths about sharks that just aren't true. Some of them are as follows:
- Myth: It's too shallow for a big shark. Fact: Most shark attacks occur in 3 to 6 feet of water.
- Myth: There are dolphins in the water, they drive off sharks. Fact: There was a large pod of dolphins right next to Todd when he was attacked.
- Myth: It's the wrong season for sharks. Fact: Great Whites inhabit the entire coastal shore of California and in water temps from 50-80 degrees. While there may be more in August-September because of Ano Nuevo and while scientists think GW's have a migratory pattern, they can be anywhere, anytime off the California coastline.
- Myth: My board is too big (too small, too wide, etc.) for a shark to mistake it for food and attack me. Fact: While sharks may not eat everything, they will bite anything (remember that first "exploratory" bite).
- Here are some more...
In that vein you can read a lot of do's and dont's about how to avoid shark attack...but if we followed those rules we would never surf again. We all have our own individual tolerance for risk. The most important thing is to be knowledgeable and know your self.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Hit the water late and paid for my tardiness with windy and bumpy conditions. Surfed the Tim Stamps shaped Harbour Wingpin and got eight waves in about an hour. Strong side current dragged the few of us who were in the water toward Moss. The small Gulf swell is putting up three to six footers. Town has waves (and people) so I hit the beaches. I will try again tomorrow.
No pics of todays waves but a very cool video of Dukes Oceanfest. Do I miss Hawaii...