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

Thursday, January 31, 2008

El Viento Del Diablo

It probably wasn't wind dispatched by the REAL devil, it just seemed that way.

Paddled out at 0750 onto a moderately bumpy sea, but manageable. Swell was registering 12 feet at 16 seconds from the NW at 4AM...a good sign, if only conditions would hold, and the incoming storm would back off just a bit. Well they didn't, and it didn't either.

If the east wind hadn't come up so early there would have been some classic head high sets. Even with the wind there were some good rides to be had, but it was a workout. Usually I get my water shots standing on my board, paddle resting against my chest and hands free. It was so bumpy after just a few minutes that my paddle wouldn't stay still. It just wanted to wash off my board. I got a couple nice long rides on head high waves, and a couple nice late, late takeoffs that I stuck, and a couple I didn't stick. C'est la never know unless you try.

Surfed it for two hours. Mikey B and Mash beat me out but went in early. Joe paddled out after an hour or so and kept me in the water another hour, where I got my best waves. Thanks Joe!

Leg strengthening exercises on the Bowflex are paying off. Today was a real leg workout, it never got easy and I couldn't relax, constant adjusting. Paddling to catch waves was a challenge there were so many troughs. The side chop would turn you 40 degrees in a single stroke if it caught you just right, causing the board to broach in the wave. There were also double troughs on the wave faces on take off, causing the board to nose into the "second" wave crest. You had to paddle through that without pearling to drop in again.

Wind never let up and grew steadily worse leading to the overhead rain clouds forecast by the NWS. There was so much bump in the water that the shoulders would white cap in the wave crest. Dodging storms.
January 31, 2008 (Th)
In: 0750
Out: 0945
AT= 44 - 50 degrees
WT= 53 degrees at the farshore buoy
Wx: Another storm moving in
Tide: 3.3 Falling to 1.82
Wind: N at 2 mph, to E and SE at 4-6 mph
Sea Surface: Bumpy with white caps in the wave crests
Buoy: NWS
0700: 12.5 feet @ 16 Seconds NW
0800: 13.8 feet @ 14.8 Seconds NW
0900: 12.8 feet @ 16 Seconds NW
1000: 11.8 feet @ 16 Seconds WNW
10'4" Angulo SUP with Infinity paddle
Rock reefs
Waves: 6 feet at 14 seconds (Nearshore buoy approx. ave.) Storm Surf Buoy Model

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Quickie Between Storms

There isn't a guy in the history of mankind that will turn down a it is with me. My dawn patrol paddle out this morning paid off with some fun waves and a good paddle, but it didn't last long.

I arrived in the line-up at Sarges at about 0750, the only guy out. Tide was a bit fat but I snagged a set wave right off the bat. I knew the waits would be too long so I headed to Gdubs and picked off a few there. In the offshore wind chill I watched the cold front plow it's way into the bay. If anything, the weather hallmark for this month has been cold and wet. Today was no different. I surfed Gdubs until the tide lowered enough to where I didn't want to ride into the rock pile. So I headed back to Sarges. So far, no one wanted to surf with me...I was alone.

It was good to be back n the water. I couldn't wipe the smile off my face. I was babbling and laughing to myself as I paddled back out to the line-up. Two flat belly paddlers joined me after a while. Do you think they thought it strange that the demented stand up guy couldn't keep at straight face? Of course not...they're surfers too.

Brother Joe paddled over after a bit on his Nui; another longboarder paddled out, and then Mashie hit the water on Mahi 1. He looks good on green. There were plenty of waist high peelers to go around, and everyone was getting their fair share. Good thing too, because ceilings were lowering.

The wind shifted from offshore to east and southeast about 0900, and things progressively deteriorated. Still, a good surf in between storms. Rain started up again about 3PM. We'll be dodging storms all this week and maybe into next.

La Mission Exaltacion already has twice as much rain this year to date as last year, some locations have three times last years total. Drought over?
January 29, 2008 (Tu)
In: 0750
1st Wave: n/a
Out: 0945
Wave count: n/a
AT= 38 - 44 degrees
WT= 53 degrees at the farshore buoy
Wx: Cold front moving in
Tide: 2.2 Falling to 1.5
Wind: NNW at 2 mph, to E at 1 mph
Sea Surface: Light bump with slight wind mottling
Buoy: NWS
0700: 11.8 feet @ 12.9 Seconds NW
0800: 11.5 feet @ 11.4 Seconds NW
0900: 10.5 feet @ 12.9 Seconds NW
1000: 10.5 feet @ 12.9 Seconds NW
10'4" Angulo SUP with Infinity paddle
Rock reefs
Waves: 5 feet at 12 seconds (Nearshore buoy approx. ave.) Storm Surf Buoy Model

Monday, January 28, 2008


Skies began to clear early this morning as the rains and heavy winds from yesterday began receding. Seas were still confused and nearshore wind waves were breaking very close together. But conditions are slowly improving as the day ages, even as occasional showers drift through. Some wave-horny souls are snagging whatever comes their way...the surfing world's equivalent of closing time.

One after-rain, water runoff concern is water quality which at the most suspect spots is off the fecal coliform count charts. If the wind dies later this afternoon, I paddle surf...if not, dawn patrol (unless of course the next scheduled low pressure storm arrives early).

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Severe Wx Diminishing

The severe winds and rains that have been pummeling NorCal for the last week are starting to wane. Conditions will be drier and less windy starting this afternoon and heading into the new week. But we are still in the prevailing storm track for at least another week.

Our friends in CenCal (Ventura and Santa Barbara area) and SoCal are about to experience the high winds and rain today. NWS has issued all manner of high wind, rain, surf, rip current, etc. advisories for SoCal. Hopefully the burn areas will not see any radical earth movement based upon the recent fires and the over saturated ground.

If the winds pull back a lot today and tonight, perhaps some waves in the morning? The nearshore buoy is registering 16 feet at 9 seconds as a result of the strong S/SE winds. That will surely go away when the winds die down. But there might be enough residual swell left to produce some fun ones. There is also NW wind blowing down the coast from the Gulf to CA...that might send some waves.

Will keep checking swell and conditions. Waiting...wave starved...waiting...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Storm Conditions Prevail

No surfing today. The second stationary low dropping down from Canada continues to spin just offshore, entrapping a huge plume of moisture and dragging it onshore. NWS has posted a flood watch for the next 24 hours. Winds at the Harbor are 27 - 35 mph out of the SE. Everything's a mess.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Rain, Rain, Rain

Rain started in earnest early this morning. The forecast calls for heavy rain starting tonight and lasting through Saturday when it will begin to diminish. Everything is still unsettled into next week though which means a good chance of more rain, snow and even thunderstorms.

The 4mm infrared satellite image loop shows the open ocean precip (circled) starting to blow-up as it heads our way. Suffice it to say that if this rain was over land we'd be flipping through the yellow pages, looking for Noah's Ark Services and Transport.

The anomalous south swell has been replaced by a W to WNW swell which started putting up decent numbers (5 feet at 19 seconds) just in time to run head on into "victory at sea" conditions. At the harbor, wind is up and out of the southeast at 23 to 28 mph. Suffice it to say that no one is surfing least this morning, and chances of it calming enough by later in the day to catch a few this evening, look bleak.

The sunset photo at right was taken yesterday evening. "Red sky at night, sailors delight"...yeah, right.

Who took my tickets to Maui?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Rain and Snow Showers

Stationary low pressure made up of cold air gifted from Canada has set up camp just offshore of NorCal. This very slowly moving low is slated to stick around for the rest of the week, exiting the area Thursday or Friday. It's farewell will give way to yet another low, forecasted to bring even more rain and snow to our area.

As of this writing there is no swell. The WNW and NW buoy numbers are in the neighborhood of five or six feet at 10 or 11 seconds. Wind is steady out of the south/southeast. A new, weak southwest swell has forerunners showing at 4.6 feet at 17.4 seconds. I'm not holding my breath for this out of season pulse to turn into much of anything except a winter-time anomaly.

Conditions are poor. There might be a possibility of sneaking in a session in between the exiting and entrancing low pressure areas as they trade places later this week, maybe Thursday morning. Will have to pay attention to get something this week.

Good thing we got some good ones Sunday afternoon eh bro's?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

New Swell Showing

Fore runners from a new swell registering predominantly WNW on the farshore buoy started up Saturday night around 7PM. Even during Sunday morning's high tide, waves were showing at the biggest spots.

I waited until the low tide to surf some peelers at the reefs. I paddled out from the vill beach break and into a moderately stiff NW wind which never let up, even after dark when I got out.

Nobody was sitting on the section of reef I wanted to surf, probably because the low tide was closing out the usually makeable inside section. But the tide was rising so I thought things would get better. I got a couple by myself and then MikeyB and Mash paddled over from the reefs in between Sarges and me. Mash was on his brother John's Mahi One (Stamps built) SUP and proceeded to rip the place apart. He was a one man wave magnet, getting the longest rides of the afternoon, on the best waves that came through. He was just there and in the right spot every time. The way he was riding, I would say that Mash and his new board have a beautiful relationship going.

Firefighter Brother Joe paddled over about forty-five minutes later and we had a great time. He was on his 11'9" Angulo Nui, just chasing down everything he bent his paddle to. It was great being out in the water with him again. We hadn't surfed together since our Maldives trip several years ago. He got an outrageously long ride in the dimming light near the end of our session, just soul arching his big Nui across a 150-yard section, locked in perfect and me screaming in the bleachers. Soul surfing!

Joe sent me an email last summer that captures, in part, the heart of the SUP experience. He wrote, "I went for a paddle out past the buoy, outside of Sarges and well off shore. It was one of those days we had where the surf was small, the wind was still and the water like glass all day. I saw whales just a little further out from where I was and I just enjoyed the peace and solitude of paddling off shore." Joe knows a little about offshore solitude as he is a blue water free diver, who once held the world record for largest tuna taken with a spear gun.

MikeyB was picking off waves in his trademark laid back and casual style of SUPing..."What, me worry?"

As for my surfing, I paddled into a lot of close-outs but my wave of the day was a long ride from Yellow House to past Dicks...about 200 yards, sweet! The real session today though was surfing with good friends in the awesome beauty that is our heritage and our responsibility.

The sky turned gray near dusk as the storm from Canada started to makes it's presence known. The wind was bitter cold and blowing steadily. I could feel the icy bite on my bare fingers. Periodic light rain accompanied the lowering ceilings and I was beginning to believe the NWS forecast of snow at the lower elevations. What a great time to be alive.

The down wind paddle back to the vill was quick and easy. The lights on the pier and in the vill's promenade were guiding me home. Did I say life is good? Thank you Jesus!
January 20, 2008 (Su)
In: 1552
1st Wave: n/a
Out: 1740
Wave count: n/a
AT= 53 - 47 degrees
WT= 53 degrees at the farshore buoy
Wx: Partly cloudy to storm clouds moving in
Tide: -1.3 Rising to .37
Wind: WNW at 5 mph, to NNW at 3 mph
Sea Surface: Light rolling sea with wind mottling
Buoy: NWS
1400: 6.2 feet @ 16 Seconds W
1500: 6.6 feet @ 14.8 Seconds WNW
1600: 5.6 feet @ 16 Seconds WNW
1700: 6.6 feet @ 16 Seconds W
1800: 6.2 feet @ 14.8 Seconds WNW
10'4" Angulo SUP with Infinity paddle
Rock reefs
Waves: 3.5-4.5 feet at 14.8 seconds (Nearshore buoy approx. ave.) Storm Surf Buoy Model

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Doldruminous; Ho-Huminous - Let's Cross Train!

Unless your forte is a vehicular coastal search or your special knowledge has you dialed into that secret uber-high tide mysto wave, downtime is the current name of the game. Since I surf almost exclusively in town with excursions to the local beachies nearby, this current lull gives me opportunity to live my "other" life that is not usurped by the Mr. Hyde like neurotic obsession with wave riding.

Time now to pay the bills, expand my consciousness with productive reading (currently Reinhold Niebuhr, "The Essential Reinhold Niebuhr"), actually become a member of my family again, and of course never falling too far from the tree, cross-train.

Current regimen: Qi Gong in the morning (an excellent dynamic stretch and overall physical health inducer), afternoon walks on the beach with M, and evening Bowflex strength training. As my SUPS (Stand Up Paddle Surfing) skills improve, I've begun pushing the physical envelope a bit more, stressing and thus necessitating the strengthening of those muscles most used in SUPS. A big change over prone surfing is the leg strength component that is essential for more performance oriented SUPS. This has added an additional dimension to my fitness training and, once realized and addressed, has been a pleasant change in that all change is not necessarily pleasant.

For overall physical fitness, SUPS has it over prone surfing two to one. I'm currently looking for a poster size pic of the posted image here that I can frame and hang on the wall in my home gym, directly opposite my Bowflex. When I am straining to pump out that last set of leg extensions, and the burn is on, I can think..." why I am doing this."

Postscript - Not that I'd ever SUPS Chopes (Heaven forbid)'s just always good to aim high!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

No Real Swell of Interest

Waves dropped off dramatically today as no real swell of interest is in play. Talked with Paul and his wife Libby at the grocery store and he said he's been getting some fun breakers at a local beachie on his SUP.

There's really nothing significant on the satellite animations but the Storm Surf NPAC Surface Pressure and Wind animation is showing an event forming now, with a smaller storm event following.

Nothing on the farshore buoys that would indicate anything going on within the next 24 hours or so. The NPAC water vapor loop isn't showing any swell producing winds. Time to start checking the beach breaks, but not to take my eye off the nearshore buoy just in case.

Had breakfast with MikeyB at Zelda's. He's about to get a Haut performance SUP so that's exciting. He meets with Doug next week.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Small Surf in Choppy Wind Waves

There was a decent nearshore wind swell in the water that was rendered challenging by incessant "offshore" winds. Just standing up on the ocean surface was a good workout today.

High pressure situated at 135W/45N and over the Great Basin in combination with the low pressure along the California coast has conspired to create offshore winds that are gusting up to 50 mph in the inland hills. What this does for us is to put a very nearshore easterly wind swell on the water that ends up putting one to three troughs on the faces of whatever decent farshore wind swell waves that are making landfall. Thus we have waves, in difficult conditions.

I surfed for two hours this morning, paddling out at the pier in hopes of some low tides waves at the reefs. That didn't happen, so I paddled up to Sarges, and then to Gdubs. I chose to pass by the two folks who were out at Sarges and rode a couple waves at Gdubs. But the best shaped waves were pushing right into the primary kelp bed. One wave there was enough to make me head back to Sarges. By the time I got there the two folks who were out had left so I surfed it for the next hour and a half by myself. I got a ton of small waves with late off-balance take-offs, and some fun fast sections inside. Junky waves, but I was having fun.

There is something so peaceful about standing on the water, waiting for the next wave; and then spotting it coming, maneuvering for the take-off, chasing it down, feeling the tail lift and push you forward into the first drop and following sections, ending with a kick out and fast turn to paddle back out. It doesn't seem like it should be this satisfying...but it is.
January 16, 2008 (W)
In: 0955
1st Wave: n/a
Out: 1200
Wave count: n/a
AT= 51 - 59 degrees
WT= 54 degrees at the farshore buoy
Wx: A few high clouds
Tide: .99 Falling to 0.68, Rising to .79
Wind: East at 3 mph, to NNE at 5 mph
Sea Surface: Incessant pre-white cap rolling sea
Buoy: NWS
0900: 11.2 feet @ 10.8 Seconds NW
1000: 9.5 feet @ 11.4 Seconds NW
1100: 8.5 feet @ 12.1 Seconds NW
1200: 9.8 feet @ 11.4 Seconds NW
1300: 10.2 feet @ 10.8 Seconds NW
10'4" Angulo SUP with Infinity paddle
Rock reefs
Waves: 3-4 feet at 11.4 seconds (Nearshore buoy approx. ave.) Storm Surf Buoy Model

Monday, January 14, 2008

Swell Drops; Still Some Fun Ones

The most significant winter swell of the last couple years is finally working it's ways off the planet and into the history books. It was memorable, classic, if not epic. I will long remember those long, long rides on steep faces through fast winter wind fortified sections.

Although size was much diminished today, there were still plenty of fun waves. I paddled out and into an all encompassing sunrise just a little before 7AM. It was cold and the offshores made it colder. Full rubber was the order of the day.

All the places were going good at waist to shoulder high. Gdubs was packed at dawn with seven surfers. I stayed at Sarges and surfed by myself for the first half hour. Then I was joined by Steve and a few others. I surfed for three hours and finished up at In Betweens.

The next swell is working it's way through the faraway buoys with a 20 second pulse, size smaller than the last swell. It may be here at first light.
January 14, 2008 (M)
In: 0655
1st Wave: n/a
Out: 1005
Wave count: n/a
AT= 40 - 57 degrees
WT= 54 degrees at the farshore buoy
Wx: A few high clouds
Tide: 2.3 Falling to 1.9, Rising to 2.1
Wind: Calm to NE at 3 mph, light south wind at 1015AM
Sea Surface: Moderately rolling sea to calm and glassy
Buoy: NWS
0600: 8 feet @ 13 Seconds WNW
0700: 9 feet @ 13 Seconds WNW
0800: 8.5 feet @ 12 Seconds WNW
0900: 8.5 feet @ 12 Seconds WNW
1000: 8 feet @ 12 Seconds WNW
10'4" Angulo SUP with Infinity paddle
Rock reefs
Waves: 5-7 feet at 13 seconds (Nearshore buoy approx. ave.) Storm Surf Buoy Model

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Day of Rest

It was another big day in NorCal and I was just too tired from SUP surfing hard the last three days to paddle out. The spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak. So the only good waves I got this morning were digital. Lot's of people got plenty of good rides. Priscilla, her son and the Doc paddled out at daylight. I saw them after they got out a few hours later, and they were stoked!

Overall though, conditions didn't seem quite as good as yesterday morning, but things smoothed out a lot by mid-morning. There was an east wind blowing at 15 to 20 mph thirty miles out to sea at the farshore buoy. This put a warble in the waves and bumps on the ocean surface that the light offshores couldn't groom out. But size was no problem. After backing down a bit last night, the swell jumped up to 12-14 feet at 16 seconds by sunrise. Big sets were mega-humongous and moving so much water that very few were able to catch the biggest waves. They were just too hard to paddle into. You needed a Waimea/Mavericks big wave gun to shoot these monsters. It was almost comical watching a couple guys trying to catch waves on their six foot something squash tail thrusters at Self Destructions. Even when they did manage to paddle in, they would just skip down the face after the late, late drop.

The SUP rider in the sequence took down a 200 yard ride before the inside section took him down. He had just enough time to paddle hard out the back and over some bombs that bore down on him faster than a speeding bullet.

Forecasters are calling for things to settle down after today.
January 13, 2008 (Su)
0600: 11 feet @ 16 Seconds WNW
0700: 12.5 feet @ 16 Seconds WNW
0800: 12.5 feet @ 16 Seconds WNW
0900: 13.5 feet @ 16 Seconds WNW
1000: 14.4 feet @ 16 Seconds WNW

Saturday, January 12, 2008

More Good Waves and Long Rides

As forecast, the swell jumped up in size overnight yielding many overhead, consistent sets full of good waves. I paddled out at sunrise and a medium tide. Even with the tide, the easterly wind waves and cliff driven backwash combined with the surf producing swell from the WNW, made for lot's of bumps, backwash and sideways action. I paddled down to Sarges from the Pier put-in, and directly into my first of two, 200+ yard bombs. Wave faces were smooth and the inside reefs were jacking up and crankin'. On my long paddle back out to the lineup I watched Jamie take a double overhead drop and go screaming by, heading for another long ride.

Surftech John was out on his Laird 10 footer shaped by Ron House. John is the best SUP surfer I've ever seen in person. It's always a treat to watch him SUP surf. At 27" wide John can make the 10' Laird do tricks I can only dream about. Also at 27" the board is pretty unstable. John has such good balance he can wobble around in the rolling sea and still make it look easy. Interestingly, John said he really doesn't see the added value at 27" over 28 or 29 inches. Hmmm, we'll have to talk more about this.

Greg's wife was out on her twinzer, absolutely dominating Middles, and putting on a surfing clinic for the rest of us.

Again today I experienced the longest rides ever at Sarges. Yesterday was the longest rides at the Reefs, today it was Sarges to Yellow House. My legs are killin' me.
January 12, 2008 (Sa)
In: 0713
1st Wave: n/a
Out: 0905
Wave count: n/a
AT= 43 - 50 degrees
WT= 54 degrees at the farshore buoy
Wx: Partly cloudy
Tide: 2.7 Rising to 3.5
Wind: N at 1 mph to NNW at 2 mph
Sea Surface: Rolling and bumpy sea
Buoy: NWS
0600: 13 feet @ 16 Seconds WNW
0700: 14 feet @ 17 Seconds WNW
0800: 14 feet @ 17 Seconds WNW
0900: 13 feet @ 17 Seconds WNW
1000: 13 feet @ 17 Seconds WNW
10'4" Angulo SUP with Infinity paddle
Rock reefs
Waves: 12-15 feet at 16 seconds (Nearshore buoy approx. ave.) Storm Surf Buoy Model

Friday, January 11, 2008

Best Ever SUPing

Me and the Angulo partnered up today for the best rides I have ever experienced at the reefs. I ripped down no less than five 375 yard (1/5th of a mile) waves from Yellow House to past Herbies. Like my son Neal used to say when he was a toddler..."I love you way up on top of God's House." That's how good it was today.

The forerunners hit the farshore buoy at 8AM, well ahead of schedule with 21 second period energy. It got better from there. By night fall the buoy was registering 10' at 19 seconds WNW. Size should increase all night long and peak sometime tomorrow. Once again I was too distracted by riding good waves to get any good water shots.

The reefs are on at lower tides, so tomorrow morning shouldn't be anything great there. But down towards the point could be goodus maximus (Latin for "most bitchin'".) I'll be out with the dawn patrol. Or...perhaps this is the year when it all comes together at a higher tide. Maybe even a mile ride from Sarges to the Pier? Oh My God!

It rarely gets this good, this lined up, this rich in congruent forces. Give thanks with a grateful heart.
January 11, 2008 (F)
In: 1545
1st Wave: n/a
Out: 1715
Wave count: n/a
AT= 58 - 55 degrees
WT= 54 degrees at the farshore buoy
Wx: Partly cloudy
Tide: 1.8 Falling to -0.22
Wind: WSW at 1 mph to calm
Sea Surface: Rolling and bumpy sea to calm and semi-glassy
Buoy: NWS
1500: 8 @ 21 WNW
1600: 9 @ 19 W
1700: 9.5 @ 19 W
1800: 10.2 @ 19 WNW
10'4" Angulo SUP with Infinity paddle
Rock reefs
Waves: 6-8 feet at 20 seconds (Nearshore buoy approx. ave.) Storm Surf Buoy Model